It has been a long time since I have talked about timepieces on the blog, so I figured a quick chat about the subject was due. Yes, I know this is a photography blog, but the more time I spend in this profession, the more I see that the two are inseparable.
As artists we have a certain disposition that craves art in every aspect of life. Be it the cocktails we drink, the places we visit on the weekends, and the clothes we wear, each has a certain statement to the unique view we cast upon the world. It should come as no surprise that for photographers, like myself, that are also watch enthusiasts, the extension of this creative view casts itself upon our wrists.
Those that know me and my affinity towards timepieces also know that my enthusiasm of the subject lies completely in its aesthetics and not its utility. You see, I am quite dyslexic and reading the time off a watch is not an easy task for me. However, the ability to look at that very same watch and appreciate the craftsmanship and vision that went into its creation is amongst my favorite hobbies. I can spend hours looking at a second hand tick, studying the guilloche of a dial and the clarity of its crystal.
For many years, the mark that won me over was Maurice Lacroix. Their design and direction was synonymous with mine so much that I became and an ambassador for their brand. It was an opportunity that gave me the chance to meet many people in their organization. One such person that I had the opportunity of befriending was Sandro Regielli, the head designer for the brand. His portfolio of work contained every Maurice Lacroix watch that had ever resided on my wrist. The conversations we had about art and philosophy spoke to the core of why I started collecting. Unfortunately, a couple years ago, instability hit Maurice Lacroix and led to the departure of Sandro and subsequently the loss of direction in the brand.
It was hard to watch the demise of a mark that I felt was becoming the brand for photographers and artist alike. While I have always collected pieces from across the industry, having one that I felt represented a unique vision in aesthetics along with sound creation in mechanics was something I held dear. Over the past year, I have found myself in a search for another brand that screams “photographer” the way that Maurice Lacroix once did. I wanted to take a couple of moments to talk about a few I have found…
The first brand that has been catching my eye lately is Longines. It is a watch company that shows that it is willing to buck standard trends in an effort to celebrate its history (of which it has years). From watches that skew their dials to a diagonal 12 o’ clock, to classic lugs and monopushers, Longines is a brand that is willing to explore art for art’s sake. I was on set recently when I saw an older piece of theirs pop up in an image search. It was a piece exclusive for an Italian University that beautifully encompassed “retro”… I bought it. This brings me to the final aspect of that makes Longines the possible “new watch for photographers,” …. Price. Most of their timepieces live in the two to four thousand range, making them reasonable and accessible to artists that want to express themselves.
The next brand that I have taken a liking for a number of years is Bell & Ross. With the past endeavors of mine, from flying in jets to photographing them, their watches are always in back of my mind. The reason being that they celebrate aeronautics in every piece, from instrument fonts to dial layouts altogether, it is inspiring. I bought one a few years back (03-92) and have to say that every time it is on set, someone asks about it… sadly for this person, they then find out what a plane nerd I am. Priced a bit above the Longines, they are a timepiece that a watch lover can spot from a mile away.
The final brand is one that is perhaps the grandest and most beautiful expression of form and function dancing in a visual harmony. It is the lesser known brand, Arnold & Sons. Before I go any further, let me say that they live in an atmosphere few can visit for the cost of entry for one is easily in the realm of five digits. However, looking at a piece like the Pyramid of Time, you see a timepiece that could live in a gallery as easily as it could reside on one’s wrist. While the absolute beauty inspires a visual pleasure for creatives, the likelihood of ownership is probably confined to an artist that has had a very good year or accomplished a milestone they wish to truly recognize.
As artists, our eye for creating is equaled by its ability to recognize counterpoints in creation. The specular reflectivity of the polished metals, the invisibility of the distortionless glass, the color pallet… all tell me that timepieces exist within the same breath. As photographers, our jobs are to tell history, as watchmakers, their job is to measure it.