The 91st annual Academy Awards may have no host, but what it lacks in good judgement from a show standpoint, it makes up for in its choices for Best Picture. This year’s pool of Oscar-nominated films is the finest and most diverse group the Academy has selected in years, in my opinion. From a superhero smash hit with a predominantly black cast, to a Netflix original about life in the early seventies in Mexico City, to the number of biographical films addressing sexual identities, the Academy – while not perfect – is slowly recognizing the beauty in our differences, and thankfully, the watch world is starting to do the same.
To celebrate this year’s Academy Award Best Picture nominees, I decided to associate each of them with a new release from watch brands that exhibited at the 2019 edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva this past January. And while you might be sarcastically thinking, “Great, another article about the SIHH”, just know I’m thinking “Great, another a**hole who wants to judge a piece of writing without reading it” in response. So, if you care to read a post about this year’s novelties that’s slightly different than what you’ve read already, carry on. If not, there are a butt-ton of other watch blogs out there to which you can geek out. Cheers!
BlacKkKlansman: Okay, I’m going to go ahead and write about this movie first because it was the most difficult to associate with a watch and feel like I did so respectfully. I’m Caucasian, so there really isn’t a way for me to think like someone who isn’t, which, I feel is part of society’s problem. As a person who grew up on the border of “white and black” West Philly in the seventies and eighties, and then who moved to the projects of South Philly for the rest of my teenage life, I’m probably more aware of racism than many of my white friends, so when I see a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the yards of white people, I often think to myself, “Is this really what black people want to see? Advertising by whites that we support them? Or would they rather we, as a race, just shut up and listen to what they have to say so that we can learn and change?” The reality is, we, as white people, will never understand what it’s like to be pre-judged or to be labeled because of what we look like, and honestly, we shouldn’t act like we do.
BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story of a black officer by the name of Ron Stallworth who infiltrated the KKK and aided in arresting racist members of the police in Colorado the 1970s. Think about that for a moment. He was a black man in the seventies, and without knowing anything about him, people judged him because of what he looked like. As far as picking a watch that I could be associated with that feeling, I struggled. I first thought about the color – black. I could go with any number of PVD coated releases, but to simply pick a watch that was black seemed lazy on my part. Then after speaking to a good friend who is also a watch writer, I thought maybe I’d go the route of an independent watch brand; a brand that released a watch that was unexpected, which, I thought was a good idea at first, but when I looked at the makers, I felt like I couldn’t find a good fit. That’s when it hit me. Which brand came into the SIHH with a release that was already hated ahead of it even being seen? There was only one answer: Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet.
I’ll admit that I, too, was a bit surprised when I first laid eyes on the design in pictures. And even after seeing it – albeit briefly – in Geneva at the SIHH, I was still unsure of how exactly I felt about it. But then in Miami, at this year’s Watches & Wonders, I got to spend some solid time with the watches, and after learning more about the process with which it was made through people like Michael Friedman and Paul Lerner, I found myself feeling guilty that I hadn’t given it the chance it deserved. The selection pictured contains the self-winding AP caliber 4302 which has a minimum 70-hour power reserve, contains 32 jewels, is water-resistant to 30 meters, has a black lacquered dial with 18K pink gold hands and hour markers, a hand-stitched alligator strap, and is 41mm in diameter with a glare proof sapphire crystal case back. You may not like the outward design, but you cannot argue that what’s inside many of the editions of the new Code 11.59 doesn’t get the job done. And for those who haven’t seen it up close, I recommend waiting to voice your negative – or any – opinions until you do.
Vice: While this politically-charged flick starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams is based on the rise of former Vice President Dick Cheney (emphasis on Dick – yeah, I went there), the word “vice” can also have a different meaning, as many of us know. While “vice” as a noun can be defined as “immoral or wicked behavior” it can also mean something which constitutes as a bad habit, like smoking, or drinking, or even, eating things that aren’t good for you. You know… things like candy.
The Richard Mille “Fraise” from their recently released and much discussed Bonbon collection is a watch that could be seen as having many vices. For one, its dial is made up of a cornucopia of sweet treats which were meticulously crafted and placed on the dial by hand. If there is another vice that has to do with Richard Mille watches, however, it could be seen in the sheer ownership of them, or at least, to the spouses or partners of those who may collect them. While the Fraise version has a roughly 55-hour power reserve, automatic winding RM 16-01 caliber movement, and is water resistant to 30 meters, it does indeed come with a $132,500.00 price tag, which may not be as sweet to some as others (but let’s face it, that price is still probably much sweeter than Dick Cheney could ever be).
The Favourite: We all have our favourites (or, in America, our “favorites”), do we not? In this early 18th century period piece about Queen Anne, her somewhat sinister lesbian lover, and that lover’s somewhat sinister cousin Abigail, we are treated to a black comedy (sprinkled with a touch of drama) that not only pleases the vixen in all of us, but also somewhat tugs at our heartstrings. We each have an angel and a devil on our shoulders. We’re all prone to seek out the thrill of the occasional evil while knowing full well it’s the good in us that will prevail in the end. Our hearts can sometimes be split in two; whether that be because of our decisions about right and wrong, or – as in the case with this film – because of our feelings of desire for more than one person, or even, one gender.
It was these reasons that made my decision to associate the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat with this Academy Award nominated film. Well, these reasons as well as the fact that this watch was, hands down, my favorite (or, “favourite”) of all of this year’s releases at the SIHH. What can I say about the Twin Beat that hasn’t already been said by the multitude of ROWPs (that’s, “Reputable Online Watch Publications” for those of you who didn’t attend my panel at last year’s Horology Forum in London) who’ve reviewed the watch already? For a person like me (meaning, a “watch enthusiast-in-training”), the Twin Beat gave me something to be excited about (particularly its 65 days of power reserve on standby mode). It ignited my senses in a way no other watch has done thus far in 2019 because – bells and whistles aside – it is a watch so unlike anything Vacheron Constantin has produced up to this point, and that, alone, makes it the winning duck. #ifyouknowyouknow
Green Book: 2019 was certainly the year for biographical movies and Green Book is no exception. Based on African-American classical and jazz musician Don Shirley’s trip through the Deep South with an Italian night club bouncer as his bodyguard, the film has received rave reviews with regard to the lead performances by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen (or as I know them best, Boggs from The Hunger Games and Aragorn from the greatest trilogy ever made). Don Shirley was a musician unlike most Americans had seen in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a black man playing classical music, who experimented with jazz, composed and wrote symphonies, and even created a one-act opera. He was highly respected for his talents but the color of his skin – along with his sexual preferences – made him a bit of a disruption once he stepped foot off the stage. Yet even with the threats he received, often by people in power, Shirley continued to do what he knew he did best: play his music.
For this movie’s associated watch, I’ve chosen the Endeavour Tourbillon Concept Cosmic Green by H. Moser & Cie for a handful of reasons. One, its name. An endeavour is defined (in its form as a noun) as an attempt at achieving a goal, which Don Shirley set out to do when he toured the Midwest and the South. But the color of this watch – the Cosmic Green – also reflects the color of the travel guide written for black motorists after which the film is named. To not also state I selected a watch by a brand that tends to make enemies for themselves and is occasionally accused of being disruptive would be misleading, so, there’s that, too. But I also chose it because – full disclosure – I just really like the watch. It has a beautiful sunburst-patterned dial, is a perfect size at 42mm in diameter, contains the automatic caliber HMC 804 movement with bi-directional pawl winding system and a minimum 3-day power reserve, and is accompanied by a gorgeous hand-stitched tan leather strap. I dig it. And I bet the boys in the car headed South would have dug it, too.
Bohemian Rhapsody: As stated previously, this was the year for films based on real people with real struggles, and this flick about Queen front man and music icon Freddie Mercury is no exception. The film follows his career from its beginning to his memorable performance at Live Aid in 1985 (and yes, I’m old enough to remember that performance [insert crying emoji here]) as well as his sometimes controversial path to finding his identity through his desires and relationships both sexually and otherwise.
The art of Milo Manara has, at times, also caused controversy. His erotic works have sometimes been seen as sexualizing women, and I can’t totally argue with that. But while, in certain circumstances, like his drawing of Spider-Woman climbing a roof in a clearly sexual way, in the case of this year’s Ulysse Nardin Erotic timepieces, I found his work to be quite beautiful, and even, a bit bohemian.
The limited-edition watches tell the story of a woman, the sea, its creatures, and a mermaid lover. In them, Manara is able to show off his ability to draw women in the throes of passion, yet with these watches, it is the mermaid who is the one pleasuring another woman orally. Oh, and this watch tells time, too. Just in case you stopped sweating enough to care. The end.
Black Panther: OH THANK YOU, DEITY! We finally have a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards! And what a movie, it is. If you haven’t seen Black Panther, please do. I don’t care if you’re the kind of person who only watches indie flicks at vintage cinemas through your Warby Parker’s while eating kale chips and drinking amaretto sours in lieu of scarfing down popcorn and Coca-Cola (by the way, if you are that person, I kind of hate you), you will still like this movie. And Angela Bassett is in it. And she’s awesome in everything. And it’s on Netflix right now. So go, hipster person. Go now and enlighten yourself. Give yourself up to the Marvel Universe and all of its action-adventure, big box office goodness. WAKANDAAAAAAAAAAA FOREVERRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!
Oh, wait, I almost forgot I had to pick a watch for this movie. I mean, it’s a bit *on the nose*, but how could I not go with the Panthère Dentelle watch by Cartier? OBVS, right? Plus, I haven’t really selected a women’s watch for any of the choices thus far so this works perfectly for that reason alone. The Panthère Dentelle pictured here is stunning in person. It measures 36mm in diameter and comes with a beautiful glossy black alligator strap, but the signature cat on the dial is what pulls the onlooker in. The emerald eyes and 480 round brilliant cut white diamonds pop against the black lacquer spots, and the watch is water resistant to 30 meters just in case one should find themselves spilling their mineral water packaged in eco-friendly carboard at the movie theatre.
Roma: This was also a difficult movie with which to associate any watch, let alone a release from this year. Next to BlacKkKlansman, this was the hardest to depict through something material because the movie is so real, and the story, so vivid and so multi-faceted; sad and joyful in so many ways. Roma is about the life of an indigenous live-in housekeeper and her family and friends in a small neighborhood in Mexico City, but largely, it’s about the daily struggles with which she copes. They are, from the outsider’s point of view, not unlike some struggles of the poor in America, and yet they can also be seen as worlds apart because being poor in America and being poor in some of the violent parts of Mexico are clearly not the same thing.
For this movie, I’m associating the HYT H0 ‘Time is Precious’. The broken mirror-like shards of the watch’s façade remind the wearer that things don’t always look the same, and that something can be seen in a variety of ways, depending on the day, the light, the person’s feelings, or even the time, which, as HYT often reminds us, is fluid. I see this watch and I’m reminded of how quickly life and the circumstances in one’s life can change, and the ‘Time is Precious’ association is as true to that life as it is to the film with which I’ve associated this watch.
A Star is Born: Last but not least… Honestly, I loathe that cliché but hell, what else am I going to say after almost 3000 words? I mean, we’re far from the shallow now, amiright? So, this is one of the more talked about movies of the group for obvious reasons. For one, Bradley Cooper sings… like, actually sings… and he does so while looking amazingly rugged, emotionally fragile, and yet still madly in love with the woman to whom he sings. And she – as we know – represents the majority of us who feel self-conscious about our talents or how we look physically, largely because of what people have told us our entire lives. It is not the first time this story has been depicted on the big screen. This is the fourth time this film has been made with the first being in 1937 and having a script co-written by the inimitable Dorothy Parker. But this is the first time the film has been released in the age of the internet and social media, which has only added to its popularity and the adoration of its lead actors.
There were a couple of watch choices I thought might work well with this movie (and no, sorry, Bradley, none of them was an IWC) but I also had to look at how those watches were perceived by the media or public, in general, after their releases at the SIHH. The watch I decided on was certainly one that I felt found stardom this year: the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune by Hermès. In a similar way that director Bradley Cooper took this age old-story and breathed new life into it by changing how the story was perceived, Hermès takes the idea of the traditional moon phase watch and deconstructs it, using two fixed mother-of-pearl moons (against a star-like aventurine backdrop) showing the Southern and Northern hemispheres represented by the words “sud” and “nord”, while two white lacquer dials – one indicating the hours and minutes and the other the date – hover over the moons while rotating around the dial so that they cover and uncover them according to whatever the current moon phase might be. The watch also contains the Hermès caliber H1837 self-winding movement, measures 43mm in diameter, and is water resistant to 30 meters because you may cry on it when you see this movie or maybe even when you see just how beautiful this watch is.
That’s all, kids. Grab your wine, whiskey, and more wine and be sure to follow me over on the Twitter (@whatsonherwrist and @adornmentality) as I’ll be live-tweeting tonight’s Oscars’ red carpet.
Long live Awards Shows!