Month: December 2016
This Blog’s Life: A Trip Down the (short) Memory Lane that was 2016
What can I say about the year 2016 that hasn’t already been stated? It sucked? It was the worst in many a Gen-Xers’ lifetime? It was the year all of the celebrities of my youth died? Yeah, I could probably say all of that, sure. And if you study numerology or superstitions you probably already know that if you add the numbers of the year 2016 you come up with the number “9,” which is considered both a satanic number (Satanic worshippers welcome “opposites” or “inverted numbers” and naturally the number 9, when flipped, is the number “6” making up one-third of the number of The Beast  though please don’t ask me why I know that) as well as the unluckiest number in the entire country of Japan. And for that little morsel of morbidity, you’re welcome.
Overall, I think many of us agree that 2016 was what I like to call, a shit year. BUT, I can’t deny that professionally, there were some upsides to these past 365 days, and to be fair to the companies or the people who were involved in said experiences, I’d like to highlight some of those moments below. But before I do, I would also like to give a big, wet, sloppy French kiss to those of you who supported this blog and me from the beginning through your reads, your shares, your advice, your mentoring, your introductions, your mentions, your private messages, and your feedback. Thanks for helping to push this idea up the very bearded, suited, and shirt-studded hill. And thanks for reminding me to pack the razors I needed to clear my path.
The Launch of WhatsOnHerWrist.com
After coming up with the loose idea for the blog in October of 2015, I set the wheels in motion and wrote my first official post on March 8th of this year – a mere two weeks before the start of Baselworld – and, while the website still needed some kinks ironed out (and yeah, still does… I’M ONLY ONE PERSON, YOU KNOW), I somehow managed to get the likes of HSN CEO Mindy Grossman and Emmy-Award winning actress Debra Messing to help me out. And for a blog that has no banner ads on it (or ads in general) and has only one “sponsored post” to date, I’m pretty proud to say that the average read count (not view or click count, but actual time spent) on each of my posts is well over what I ever expected, and for a blog that’s only ten months old, I’ll take it. It means I’m reaching people, and the more people I reach, the more people will be exposed to a slightly different side of the watch world. This is all part of the grand plan and I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone down thus far.
Ermagerd! Berzelwerld! Wertches and Jerlry and Dermends, ER MY! That’s right, le World du BASEL was a highlight this year because Baselworld was new to me (apparently, it’s not a highlight to some watch journos who’ve done it repeatedly, but I am not them and they are not me and we’re all probably okay with that). If you remove the four+ hour daily commute from Zurich, the fact that I didn’t bring a heavy enough coat, and the lack of food I consumed that wasn’t chocolate, champagne, or chocolate, I’d say that Baselworld, professionally, was for me a smashing success. It is where I first met many of the watch writers I luckily now call friends, and where I was able to get my hands on watches I’d only read about and daydreamed about prior. It was – as described – unlike anything I’d experienced before and I felt welcomed and wanted by the brands I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with, or, in the case of MB&F, sit under the table with. Also, nabbed me a selfie with master watchmaker Philippe DuFour, so, BONUS.
The Las Vegas Watch Shows
Had I never attended the watch shows in Las Vegas (Swiss Watch and COUTURETIME) then I’d never have written my award-winning notorious blog post on Balls. And come on, don’t we all agree that was a piece of work? (THE POST, NOT ME.) Ahhh, Sin City. Putting super high-end Swiss timepieces in the hotels of Las Vegas is like giving an Hermes Birkin bag to a Lithuanian paid escort, meaning, it really doesn’t belong there and yet somehow, it still works. It was loads of fun getting to hang out at the Chopard and Oris parties and I was grateful to have had the time to talk turkey with Tudor. Plus, I met several watch folks at Parasol Up whom I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting in Basel, and by the end of the night we were all taking our scotches with us into the cab for a ride back to nowhere. I think. As far as I can remember (and what my posts about it say), Vegas was a happiness-inducing watch industry experience.
A Visit to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Flagship boutique in Paris
While I did not write an official blog post about this visit, the truth is that I was in Paris to begin with because I was invited to attend the BIJORHCA watch and jewelry show, which I did write about in a post on the blog of my alter ego. But a few extra hotel nights under my belt allowed me the opportunity to visit Place Vendôme and to get an appointment with Jaeger-LeCoultre at their Flagship boutique. The boutique was extraordinary. The novelties on hand were ones I’d only seen on the pages of magazines. The interactive Reverso shop-in-shop allowed users (and me) to customize their own Reversos by selecting the case size, style, strap, dial color, metal choice, and more. And the historical pieces made me fall in love with the brand all over again. These things, plus the company of two wonderful women – Stephanie and Gloria –made for a visit I won’t soon forget.
WatchTime New York and My First New York Red Bar
Awwww, shit. I had not expected to be at the WatchTime New York show originally but found myself in the city at the same time the event was going on, so conveniently I was able to do a handful of watch-related tasks at once. RedBar was a blast, made better by the independent watch brands on hand for that Wednesday night’s get-together. I also got to hang out with my #newguard new friend, Sophy Rindler (Definition of “New Guard” according to Merriam-Webster [for those who’ve asked about the hashtag]: a group of persons united in an effort to change the status quo), as well as with the prettiest man in watches, Charris Yadigaroglou. The WatchTime show was an elegant event made event better by its glorious venue and noteworthy speakers, and the post-show burgers and beer at Shake Shack made the experience all the more memorable.
Receiving an Invitation to the SIHH
While this may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, for me, it was nothing short of Kong-sized. After having been told that the Swiss watch industry wouldn’t understand my style of writing and that there would likely be no way I’d get an invitation to this prestigious event, imagine my surprise when I’d received the email stating otherwise. It renewed my faith in the idea that people want to genuinely see things change and that when it comes down to it, all we really want is to be entertained and have a little fun. I’m greatly looking forward to that moment, just two weeks from today, when I board a Geneva-bound plane headed toward the next stage of my watch education.
A Conversation with an Icon at the Provident Holiday Throwdown
My last work-related trip of 2016 led me to a sunny South Florida beach town and through the doors of Provident Jewelry where I got to spend several moments hanging out with incredible people and picking the brain of one Maximilian Büsser. It was a fun-filled forty-eight hours that opened my eyes to the capabilities of a traditional retail jewelry and watch store, and opened my mind to what the future of the watch industry could be if it thinks long and hard enough. The trip and the experience was an ideal way to both cap off the year and blow off some steam, and I hope to get the opportunity do it again someday.
Here’s hoping your 2016 was filled with some of your own positive experiences and here’s wishing that your 2017 brings you prosperity, peace, love, good books, great laughs, safe travels, and a devoted and loyal group of friends. Thank you for reading WOHW and I hope you’ll join me on next year’s watch-related journeys.
“Welcome To My World”: A Conversation with Maximilian Büsser about the Watch Industry, Change, and the Life Lessons We Teach our Children
You may or may not recall that my brief one-time run-in with Max Büsser happened in Basel, Switzerland this past March. As I wrote in an earlier blog entry, this is how the initial meeting went down:
Heading toward the back of The Palace at Baselworld, I could see Max strolling in my direction. His swagger is unique and undeniably his and he walks as if he were eight feet tall (he is not). He saw me and smiled a very Max smile and I’m sure I turned six shades of chartreuse as a result, but when we reached one another it was if we’d been schoolmates for decades. “Finally!” I said, going in for a hug, to which he replied, “We see you later today, yes?” Then off we both went to our intended destinations, thankfully without my passing out from sheer fangirl glee.
This second encounter wasn’t quite so short-lived thanks to the kind and thoughtful partners at Provident Jewelry in South Florida. I wandered in to the Jupiter location after a two-hour flight and a hotel restaurant lunch to find an already magnificent store filled with caterers setting up tables, a granite bar being stocked with Dom Pérignon, florists delivering holiday arrangements, and staff members scurrying about like army ants. The energy was electric and yet through all of the chaos and excitement my eye was drawn to three calm figures deep in manly conversation: Nick Linca (one of the hilarious partners at Provident); Phil Ogle (MB&F’s Caribbean and North American president and owner of two fantastically buff biceps); and the man himself, Maxy Max.
It has taken since March for me not to practically pass out when in Max’s presence, but thankfully I am able to state with all sincerity that my fangirl fainting days are behind me… mostly. Max is indeed a mortal; one who has had the rare bad hair moment and may occasionally wear a wrinkled shirt, but this is also part of the reason why people are so drawn to Max. He has been described by many in both the press and the watch industry in a single word. Words like “genius,” “brilliant,” “madman,” and “anomaly,” and while I, myself have likely used those same terms in passing to describe him, there is one word in the lexicon of my existence that sums up Max Büsser better than any adjective some fashion magazine editor could conjure:
Max, to me, is the most approachable man in the watch world. He has never balked at any of my questions (whether via email, in person, or otherwise) and has not once made me feel like what I am doing isn’t just as important as what he is (which honestly is a trait some folks in the business should try learning). Max is interested in people. He is interested in stories. He is interested in what he doesn’t know and he is neither too proud nor too afraid to admit that he doesn’t know it.
I remember having a conversation with James Thompson early on when I first started focusing on watches and his telling me about his primary encounter with Max. “Black Badger,” as James is known, is the artist who collaborated with MB&F on the HMX Black Badger “Performance Art” edition. In an email, James told me about his first ever meeting with Max, which happened at Salon QP in London in 2013.
“I wasn’t campaigning for a job or anything; I really just wanted to meet him and tell him how much I liked his stuff!” James said. “But, we had a really nice, genuine chat. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything more than that, but when he emailed me a few weeks later and we started bouncing around ideas… I mean, seriously? That’s like Sinatra asking you what you thought of his new tune.”
But James isn’t the only one who has had that type of experience. Shortly after posting my review of the new HMX Black Badger and sharing my personal tale about MB&F at Baselworld, I was contacted by Charris Yadigaroglou (or as Max reminded me this week, the man I refer to as the “prettiest man in watches”), who is Chief Communications Officer at MB&F. To make a long story short (too late!), keep an eye out for the next issue of MB&F’s Parallel Worlds, as you might recognize the author of one of the articles.
After a quick tour of the Provident Jupiter store, its brands, its Dream Factory cigar lounge (more about that in an upcoming post over on Adornmentality.com), and its bar, I finally had Max Büsser to myself, which I smartly took advantage of as I knew the moment wouldn’t last forever.
Me: “You know, this is the first time we’ve really had the chance to talk. Basel was a two-minute blip on a screen and all of our other conversations have been via email or social media, so I want to take this opportunity to really tell you what it is that I’m doing.”
Me: “This isn’t just about women, this blog. I mean, clearly I am trying to reach a customer that is largely under marketed to and vastly overlooked in the watch industry.”
Me: “But I don’t write it just for women. I know that collectors aren’t reading what I write; they’re reading Hodinkee, and Analog Shift, and A Blog to Watch, and I get that. That’s not the reader I’m trying to reach. I want the new buyer. I want the person who doesn’t normally read blogs, or read anything for that matter. I want the guy or the girl who maybe owns a watch that was given to them and nothing more. I want the novices and the newbies. I want the retailers. I want those who were like I was; the green people. And I want them turned on to watches in the same way that I was… by reading something that stuck with them. Something that was fun and funny and interesting and I don’t want them to even realize that they’re learning something in the process. I want to entertain a new breed of watch enthusiast because the industry takes itself way too seriously. It’s not fun enough, and this next generation – the millennials and hell, these generation Z kids – they don’t give a shit about celebrity endorsements. They want a story. They want to laugh. They want something with meaning and they want it to be unfiltered and honest. Mostly though, they want it to be fun. That’s what I’m trying to bring to watches. Unfiltered fun.”
Max: “Welcome to my world.”
The conversation consisted of our opinions regarding certain genres, entities, and conglomerates (off the record) but eventually delved into our childhoods and the types of parents we currently are and wish to continue to be.
Max: “My father worked a lot. I didn’t see him during the day. I was an only child and had to entertain myself. This is probably why I am who I am today.”
Me: “I feel the same way. We only allow our kids thirty minutes per day (except weekends) on technology in any form, which they are allowed to choose. Could be fifteen minutes of television and fifteen on the computer or all thirty on a tablet. They get the choice, but no more than that.”
Max: “My wife and I do something similar. But how do you feel about peer pressure? Do you think they’ll be taunted by the kids who are always on technology?”
Me: “We look at it like this: they’re going to be inundated with technology for the rest of their lives.”
Max: “That’s true. I know. You… you’re always on social media. You post so much. You’re always in my feed.”
Me: “Yes, but part of my job is getting my name out there. You know that you can unfollow me, right?”
Max: “No! It’s great! You make me laugh. Sometimes I send your stuff to my wife and I say ‘you have to read this’… not many people make me laugh. You do.”
Me: “Well, that makes me feel good, thanks. But on that topic, see what I mean? My whole world is technology-ridden. They’re kids, and they only get one shot at that. I love seeing my kids make up games or draw or ride their bikes.”
Max: “I know. I love to play with my child. I love when they ask me to play. Our parents didn’t do that with us. That wasn’t their generation. We go outside as much as we can. I really love it and can’t wait to get back home to do it again.”
And throughout the rest of my time with Max Büsser, whether I was speaking directly to him or not, I could feel his inner child come out to play in the Florida sun. When he proudly showed off his award-winning reverse-engineered perpetual calendar – the Legacy Machine Perpetual – I imagined a spritely young Max showing his friends a creation he made of sticks, rubber bands, and plastic spoons and explaining to them how it worked. When a customer approached him to ask about Astrograph – the writing tool collaboration between MB&F and Maison Caran d’Ache – I watched Max’s face light up as he spun the tiny magnetic astronaut and explained how, as a kid, he loved switchblade knives. And there was a moment while all of this was going on when I realized that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and that despite the doubters, it was where I was going to stay.
I get why people get Maximilian Büsser. I get why stores like Provident want to be a part of the MB&F story. I relate to this man who was once a child who then turned into the man who still embraces that child, and I feel deeply connected to his story and his outlook and can relate to his reasons for being who he is. MB&F was one of the first brands I researched thoroughly when I began writing about watches. I don’t quite know why or how that came to be at the beginning, honestly. Maybe it was because Max seemed so debonair and so charming to those of us who watched his interviews via YouTube. He was a celebrity of sorts, I guess. At least, to an outsider. At least, back then.
But today, he’s less of a celebrity. Today he’s just my friend. My friend, Max Büsser. You know Max… he’s the guy who makes watches fun. He’s the handsome guy. The guy with the good hair and the great smile. You know who he is… the guy with all the “friends”…
…and man, oh man, I’m so grateful he’s that guy.
He Said/She Said: The Five Best Watch Gifts For Women at this Tuesday’s Christie’s Auction
It is no secret to watch collectors or enthusiasts that Christie’s will hold its Rare Watches and Nautilus Part IV auction this Tuesday, December 6th, at Rockefeller Center in New York City. And while vintage/auction quality watches aren’t really my thing (yet… but they’re getting there), my friend Eric Wind (who also happens to be the Vice President, Senior Specialist at Christie’s watch department) and I thought we’d have a little fun while introducing you to Eric’s top five watch picks to gift the woman in your life this holiday season. As an added bonus, however, I’m going to follow each of Eric’s picks by adding my own comments about the watch and why you should bid on it. You know… for the layman in the room. This way you can choose whether you’d like the “historically accurate and horologically savvy” description or the “what’s that thingy next to the ticky tock part?” description. ‘cause… you know… life is about options.
So without further hesitation, here are Eric’s and my take on the best watches for women from this Tuesday’s New York auction.
Rolex reference 9366 in white gold (Lot 163, estimate $8,000 to $12,000)
“This Rolex has an ornate and intricate diamond-set bracelet in a design we have not previously seen. It is set with approximately 95 single-cut diamonds weighing 0.75-0.95 carats total, and 12 rectangular cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.75-2.00 carats total. Given all the intense craftsmanship and the rarity of the watch, it is remarkable that it has an estimate of only $8,000 to $12,000. (P.S. If you are looking for a similar watch, but with more diamonds, this one is set with approximately 135 marquise, circular and baguette-cut diamonds, weighing approximately 23.00-26.00 carats overall.)”
“Marilyn Monroe was onto something when she stated that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. And while this watch DID NOT belong to Marilyn Monroe, the woman was able to get three pretty bright and fairly famous guys to put a ring on it, so clearly Norma Jean knew a thing or two about a thing or two. If I were to get hitched for the third time in my life, this is definitely the watch I’d want to be married in, because in my mind, nothing says ‘my childbearing days are over and it’s all about me now’ quite like a vintage diamond and white gold Rolex.”
Cartier bracelet watch in yellow gold (Lot 166, estimate $10,000 to $15,000)
“This Cartier watch dates to circa 1940 and comes in the original red leather box. The chunky gold bracelet design of this watch makes it looks like it could be from the 1980s or even today. It really is jewelry more than a watch and the simple but bold design makes it seem like something that could be worn with just about any outfit as opposed to some ladies watches (like the Rolex reference 9366 above) that appear more suited for formal evening events.”
“Reason number one to bid on this watch: gold prices have been steadily rising and are expected to soar with the impending administration coming into power. Um, have you seen how solid the gold is on this thing? It’s practically a door knocker on the Sultan of Brunei’s guest house! Buy low/sell high, people! Oh, and uh, the timepiece part of it is pretty good too, I guess. Yeah, it’s totally gift-worthy. I’ll admit it.”
Audemars Piguet concealed watch in yellow gold (Lot 165, estimate $6,000 to $8,000 with no reserve)
“Along the lines of the previous Cartier, this piece seems more jewelry than watch and has a design suited for frequent wear. The bracelet is large, but incredibly light. Despite its being yellow gold, it hardly weighs anything, which is a shock when first picking it up to examine it. The fine craftsmanship of this watch is amazing and it clearly was the result of a huge number of hours making it.”
“The new Wonder Woman movie will be out in theaters next year. Buy this watch along with the other one we just talked about and give them BOTH to your lady friend right before date night, that way she can wear one on each arm while I live out my childhood fantasies of deflecting bullets with my wrists and flying my invisible jet and marrying Aquaman. I mean… she… while she lives out her childhood fantasies of deflecting bullets and … you know… so on.”
“Hey look! Is that Elvis?!”
Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona reference 6262 (Lot 215, estimate $80,000 to $120,000)
“I know of a few guys who have purchased ‘Paul Newmans’ for their wives or girlfriends and it is an amazing look. Ellen DeGeneres has a tremendous affinity for vintage Daytonas, as well. This one comes from the original owner and includes the original box and papers, which vintage watch collectors love to have. Whether on a bracelet or a strap, seeing one of these on a lady is always a jaw-dropping sight for a vintage Rolex fan.”
“This is the smartest purchase you’ll ever make for your woman for two reasons: if she hates it, she’ll likely throw it at you and if you’re quick enough to catch it, well hey! You got a new watch! And, it’s a Paul Newman Daytona! Or, if she loves it and wears it out so much that she meets and impresses some super charming and debonair watch collector whom she leaves you for, you get it back anyway as long as you put it in the prenuptial agreement. BONUS.”
Patek Philippe reference 1518 in yellow gold (Lot 180, estimate $200,000 to $300,000)
“The reference 1518 is the first perpetual calendar chronograph ever made in a series. The 1518 placed Patek Philippe at the forefront of complicated wristwatch production and they maintain that position today. Although it was designed for a man, I am aware of at least one woman who wears a reference 1518 on occasion. To say it looks wonderful on her would be an extreme understatement!”
“Wait Eric, HOW MUCH??? Dayyyyyyyyyyum. Okay, all I can say is, any man who is willing to spend $300,000 on a watch for me is pretty much guaranteed to die happy, and that’s as vague as I’m going to keep that description out of respect for Christie’s, but feel free to use your imagination.”
The link to the full catalog is here for those interested in dying with a smile on their faces. Thanks to Eric Wind for his contribution to this piece and happy bidding, everyone!