Like it or not, one cannot dispute the fact that we as a country continue to make history through our willingness to adapt, our desire to make change, and the tolerance and acceptance once thought to be impossible. We are no longer just the sons and daughters of our forefathers because let’s face it, complacency isn’t what has ever made this country great. We have taken their ideas of freedom and prosperity and over long and hard-fought decades (not to mention a Civil War), added our own humane idea of equality. Equality for all races, all religious backgrounds, all sexual preferences, and yes, even all genders.
This summer we collectively watched – as a nation – one more historical milestone be reached. For the first time in the two-hundred-and-forty-year history of this extraordinary patch of Earth we call “home,” a woman was named by a major political party as their nominee for President of the United States, and I believe I speak for many women in this country when I say now with all puns intended…
It’s. About. TIME.
Over the last few years, the American history lover as well as the watch lover in me has on occasion researched which presidents wore what watches. The most famous watch (or rather, infamous) likely being the adoringly inscribed gold Rolex Day-Date supposedly given to Jack Kennedy by Marilyn Monroe on his 45th birthday, shortly after her sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” (which, as legend goes, he quickly gave to an aide with instructions to “get rid of it”… ah, gotta love men.) Abe Lincoln used a Waltham William Ellery pocket watch, FDR wore a Tiffany & Co. wristwatch containing a movement by Movado (though it was not his only watch), Reagan wore a stainless steel Rolex Datejust, and our current president wears a Jorg Gray gifted to him on his birthday by his Secret Service team. The list of pocket watch-carrying and wristwatch-wearing presidents goes back to our first – George Washington – and can be found on most highly respected watch blogs like the piece written here on WatchTime.com. But with the times a-changin’ both in horology and politics, I’ve been thinking a lot about which types, brands, and styles of watches a female president would wear, how often she would wear them, and of course, when those watches would be appropriate. Here is what I came up with should the history books, once again, need an update and maybe some new drapes.
Inauguration Day (January 20th, 2017)
A watch worn on Election Day becomes a historic watch for any president, but for the first female President of the United States, the timepiece would have to have an even deeper meaning. On this, I contacted a friend who I know to be a bit of a watch historian and we went back and forth about watches that might potentially work from both a significance angle as well as from a style standpoint. Two watches that stood out were the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso owned by Amelia Earhart that was engraved with the itinerary of her first flight (to New York [where Clinton was a Senator] from Mexico [where there will now be no wall built]), as well as the yellow gold Omega wristwatch worn by President John F. Kennedy (a fellow Democrat) at his inauguration. Both watches signify change and greatness. Both graced the wrists of rule breakers and risk-takers, but yet it is the associated histories of each of those pieces that I was having trouble with as my choice for this possible president. If Hillary Rodham Clinton is to take the oath of office, then her watch will need to be something that represents her history alone, so with that in mind, I chose a 1928 white gold “Piping Rock” wristwatch by then-American made watch company, Hamilton.
Why? Well, first, the watch was made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at the time of its production. Pennsylvania was a crucial swing state that went blue (hypothetically) for this election so selecting this watch is a nod to PA voters. Also, in 1947 – the year Hillary Clinton was born – Hamilton Watch Company produced a nifty twenty-minute video called, “What Makes a Fine Watch Fine?” which shows (several times throughout the video) American women not just working in the watch factory but also holding more highly-paid positions such as inspectors. The name of this watch, Piping Rock, was an homage to a resort built in New York state in 1911 (also the same year California gave women the right to vote) and the watch itself was released in 1928, which was the same year that the Representation of the People Act was passed in the United Kingdom, giving British women electoral equality with men.
Now, let’s break it down a little more by connecting the name “Hamilton.”
The company was incorporated in 1892 (the same year Olympia Brown founded the Federal Suffrage Association) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While it would be fitting for this blog post that the name come from Founding Father, first Secretary of the Treasury, and star of his own award-winning musical (which, by the way, raised millions for Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year), Alexander Hamilton, the company was actually named for a lawyer by the name of Andrew Hamilton (no relation) who once owned the piece of property in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that the Hamilton watch factory was built upon. Since I’m having fun researching connections, however, I’ll add a couple more fun facts just to come full circle: Andrew Hamilton was Attorney General for the colony of Pennsylvania from 1717 until 1724, which is when he travelled to London to formally oversee the will of Pennsylvania founder William Penn. For his legal work, Hamilton was awarded land in Philadelphia by Penn’s family which, when combined with additional land he purchased, became a 153-acre estate known as Bush Hill (oh, the irony). BUSH AND HILL, PEOPLE! But wait! There’s more! Years later, Bush Hill became a temporary home for the vice president of the United States (who happened to be John Adams at the time) when the federal capital was moved to Philadelphia during George Washington’s presidency. And one last association between this watch and its potential inauguration day wearer: the year before the Piping Rock model was produced, Hamilton Watch Company purchased the Illinois Watch Company (keep in mind that Hillary’s home state is Illinois), which was co-founded in 1870 by a man also by the name of John Adams. I can’t make this stuff up, gang. All signs point to this being the perfect watch to wind up in her presidential library one day.
In my mind, Potential President Clinton (I may refer to her as “PPC” from here on in, so, take note) would have purchased the watch for herself at some point, maybe from an online auction or from a private dealer. She’d wear it on her left wrist underneath her wool coat, which will be the same hand she places on the bible (assumably), while raising her right to take her oath of office as the first female president of these United States.
Inauguration Night & Inaugural Balls (January 20th, 2017)
Hillary Clinton knows that she’s no Michelle Obama when it comes to fashion, nor does she try to be. But it is my hope that if she does win the election, she will be comfortable selecting a gown for her Inaugural Balls that she won’t be scrutinized in (highly doubtful), or criticized in (ain’t happenin’), or, at the very least, one that will reflect the type of leader she might be. In other words: all business. If I were she, I’d go with a basic black number simply because color choices are the easiest thing for society to pick apart, so why not go with black at that point? I mean, technically every U.S. President before her has, right? This is her “tuxedo” so to speak, so black with a dash of white in the form of loaner diamonds could speak volumes. I’m thinking something classic with three-quarter sleeves accented with a muted design like a lace applique on the bodice would be the perfect style of gown to go with that stunning Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Secret watch in white gold and diamonds that she borrowed from longtime Washington, D.C. jeweler, Tiny Jewel Box. Will she get roasted for not wearing an American-made watch? Probably, but at this point what won’t she get roasted for? This is a watch that was born to be worn to events such as these and being that she would now be president of the United States, staying on schedule will be of the utmost importance. The rhodium-plated floral appliques on the mother-of-pearl dial would not only match the gown’s bodice, but her daughter Chelsea gave birth this past June to Hillary’s grandson, Aiden, and June’s birthstone is pearl, making Chelsea a “mother of pearl”… okay, that connection might be a stretch, but I’m on a roll here. Don’t kill my vibe.
First Speech Given to the Joint Sessions of Congress (February, 2017)
There will likely be no State of the Union address shortly after the next president is inaugurated, simply because newly elected presidents in recent decades have opted out of official SotU’s, instead addressing a joint session of Congress during their first few months in office. Giving a speech to a body that large, that powerful, and that important to what she’ll be able to accomplish in her presidency won’t come easily, nor do I believe she will take it lightly. As mentioned previously, PPC (aka HRC) is pretty much all business and the House chamber is no place to be flashy, but just because the president doesn’t want to look “showy” doesn’t mean she has to go for something as inexpensive as a Boccia, (à la Angela Merkel) or a Timex (à la Dubya). I’m thinking the Longines Agassiz 23mm in 18K yellow gold will do the trick as it’s the quintessential “I’ve got bills to sign and pantsuits to wear” women’s watch. Time only and with a quartz movement, the Agassiz is also water resistant up to 100 meters just in case Hill wants to go for a dip in the White House North Lawn fountain immediately following the Congressional brouhaha.
First G-20 Summit Meeting, Hamburg, Germany (July, 2017)
When one and a bunch of one’s allies (oh, and Russia) get together to discuss initiatives aimed at international coordination of economic policy, it’s not exactly like a meet-and-greet prior to the 2017 season premiere of SNL. If one is planning on being in a room with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the entirety of the EU, one is probably going to want to make some sort of an impression, especially while in the country of one’s fellow female badass, Angela Merkel. My suggestion for PPC here would be to go with a watch that is made where the Summit itself is taking place…. that’s right folks, we’re talking a Montblanc. The “Bohème Day & Night” in stainless steel contains the MB 24.10 caliber movement in a 34mm case as well as a guilloché dial with black floral Arabic and diamond numerals. It’s reasonably priced enough not to make the French look at her like she’s the next Marie Antoinette, however, still made nicely enough to make Putin want to (wo)manhunt her for it while perched atop a soon-to-be-mating Karabakh horse.
First State Dinner at the White House (August, 2017)
The United States, dating back to when Herbert Hoover was President (as that is the earliest Presidential State Dinner listed on Wikipedia), has not had an official State Dinner in modern times with the country of Switzerland. Why that is, I have no idea (though I will refrain from my usual jokes about the Swiss being Swiss here because, you know, #watchevents), but since this entire blog post is based on a hypothetical presidency, I figured I may as well close it out with a hypothetical State Dinner of my choosing, and because of that, I decided to choose Switzerland.
The formal invitation, printed on the finest card stock, will be sent out to President Johann Schneider-Ammann and will read, “We’re having a great party in your honor. It’s going to be great. We’re going to make it so Swiss it’ll make your clocks spin. There’s going to be Schnitzel, too. There’s going to be so much Schnitzel, your watch hands are going to spin. You’re going to get tired of eating Schnitzel there’s going to be so much Schnitzel. And it’ll be the best Schnitzel, too, because my chefs at the Trump Towers make the best Schnitzel in the world. And everyone’ll get a Trump watch as a door prize. This is going to be the best Switzerland party in my honor, ever. RSVP to my wife, Melania, by the 15th. I don’t know or even care what ‘RSVP’ means but many people tell me it’s Swiss.”
Oh. Wait. Wrong election winner. Sorry.
An event as extravagant as a State Dinner calls for adornments as extravagant as an event like a State Dinner, which is why – as an homage to Switzerland – I’m suggesting Potential President Clinton wear a watch that is made in the horological mecca that is Geneva. In this case, something from Chopard will do. The L’Heure du Diamant Oval Vertical in 18K white gold is as elegant as it gets without looking overly frilly or delicate. After all, no president wants to come off as a lover of doilies and macramé, although I often wondered about that Chester A. Arthur. As the great Robert De Niro would say… “I’ve heard things.”
Only time will tell (see what I did there?) whether or not we get to watch that sky-high and final glass ceiling get shattered, and with months left to go and twenty-four-hour news networks left to be turned off in a violent rage watched, anything can happen, which also means anyone – ANYONE – could wind up being president.
In the meantime, thank you for reading. God bless our troops. And God bless ‘merica.
The Lovechild of Art and Smart: The HMX Black Badger Brightens the MB&F Booth (and This Watch Writer’s Day)
Ever get a Facebook friend request from someone so popular, so well-loved, and so seemingly untouchable that you think to yourself, “there must be some mistake”? Well that’s what happened to me when I saw a notification stating that *the* Maximilian Büsser wanted to connect.
I had read all that I could read about Max and his “friends” up to the moment that the notification bar lit up. I had known of his connection with Jaeger LeCoultre, and Harry Winston, as well as his involvement in the Opus series, and with independent watchmakers. I skimmed pages of articles on his MB&F projects, and read about his ten-piece limited edition partnership with Hodinkee last year that produced the LM101 in stainless steel. I watched videos of his interviews, and flipped articles for future reading, but never did I think he’d be someone I’d call a friend.
That is, at least, until last week.
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.
When the time came for my scheduled meeting with Max’s Chief Communications Officer, the tremendously kind Charris Yadigaroglou, I decided to show up a few minutes early to take some photos of the booth and of course, of Max’s “machines.” That was when Jason Heaton walked in.
“DUDE! What are you doing here?” Which as I think about it now, was a rather stupid question to ask one of the most recognizable watch journalists in Baselworld. But before Jason and I got to talking, this super-animated bearded guy walks in, turns to Jason and exclaims rather vibrantly, “ADVENTUREMAN! I was hoping I was going to get to meet you!”
“Beardguy,” I soon came to realize, was none other than James Thompson, the composite specialist and industrial designer responsible for this year’s MB&F “Performance Art” limited edition watch series, the HMX Black Badger, so it made all the sense in the world that he would be in Max’s booth. He got to talking to Jason about stuff I’m still learning about but since I have a decades-long background in the jewelry industry, my eyes, while he spoke, were fixated on his rings.
Me: “Hey man, can I see that ring?”
JT: “Yeah” (handing it to me) “Go for it.”
Me: (Now turning the piece and inspecting it because that’s kind of what I do.) “Hmmm. What’s the inlay made of?”
JT: “Ahhh, see? Now, that’s the secret.”
What I quickly learned, however, was that this was the exact “secret” that led to James’ and Max’s partnership. James uses alternative materials such as DuPont™ Corian®, brightly colored lume, surfboard resin, and carbon fiber. He also mentioned something about digging through the trash to get hold of a certain substance to experiment with, which is right around the time that Charris walked into the lounge and saved me from my own curiosity.
“Performance Art. Are you familiar?” Mr. Yadigaroglou said to me, and while I was familiar (both with the MB&F version as well as the “what my friends did for extra credit in college” version), I wanted to make sure I had all of my information correct, so I beckoned my host to explain. In a nutshell, MB&F “Performance Art” pieces are limited edition works (either watch or machine) that are made in collaboration with various jewelry houses, designers, artists, and manufacturers who happen to tickle Max’s and his team’s fancy. This year’s version was no different.
James Thompson (aka – “Beardguy” – aka – Black Badger) first met Max back in 2013 at London’s SalonQP exhibition. Says JT of the meeting, “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. Clearly he had better and more important things to be doing, but we had a really nice, genuine chat. To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything more of it than that, but then he emailed me a few weeks later and we started bouncing around ideas… I mean seriously? That’s like Sinatra asking what you thought of his new tune.”
The two eventually got together at the MAD Gallery in Geneva and started putting things in motion. The result (or, “lovechild” for the sake of this post) is an intricate timepiece that doubles as something that could entertain your Scout troop or chess club for hours. Made in Grade 5 titanium and stainless steel with either blue, green, or purple high-efficiency luminescent details (known as “rocker covers”), the HMX Black
Badger is, according to the MB&F website, “eye-catching by day, (but) it’s when the sun goes down that they really come out to party.”
The pieces are limited to eighteen in each of the three colors, with every one being a technological symphony of components (forty-four making up the case, two hundred and twenty-three making up the three-dimensional horological Engine). The watch has a forty-two-hour power reserve, and its functions include bi-directional jumping hours and trailing minutes, displayed by dual reflective sapphire crystal prisms with integrated magnifying lenses.
But at the end of the day what I will take away from my experience with Max, James, Charris, and the HMX Black Badger is this: I don’t remember laughing as hard as I did for the rest of the week in Baselworld, and I truly mean that. I can’t even recall what exactly it was we were talking about; all I know is that the three of us were in that darkened room using flashlights and cell phone lighting to try to get a picture of all of the watches glowing together, giggling like fools. I felt as if I were camping out with my friends from high school and trying to light a cigarette without my parents catching me. It is this feeling – this innocence of adolescence, and this joy of journeys past – that is the cornerstone of what I believe “Max Büsser and Friends” is all about.
Friends. Freunde. Copains. Amici. Vänner. No matter how any one of us at that meeting could say it or which language we could say it in, I feel we all were in agreement that “friends” is the core word in this entire project, and I thank Max, and his team, for accepting me as one of theirs.