Welcome to Five Minute Fix, your new weekly round-up of what’s going on in the world of watches.
This week: Chanel buys a bit of F.P. Journe, Oris does the recycling, horological art at the Tate Modern and the demise of Phillips’ Steve McQueen Submariner…
By Chris Hall
What we’re wearing: Tissot Heritage Visodate
This snappy number from Tissot is now available with a blue dial and Swatch Group’s Powermatic 80 movement (previously it was a 38-hour ETA 2836-2). I’ve been wearing it for a few days and everything that I liked about it when new in 2010 is still there – 40mm diameter is spot on, especially when the case tapers inwards like it does, and the 1950s look is well preserved. On a Milanese mesh bracelet it demands to be worn with a shirt and jacket (I tried dressing it down over the weekend – not easy), but if you work in the kind of office where a suit is expected, I can’t think of a better Monday-Friday watch for the money. Or I couldn’t, if it wasn’t for the watch’s fatal flaw: the total lack of anti-reflective coating. As my colleague James put it, “it’s not a watch, it’s a mirror you wear on your wrist”. Everything about the watch is too shiny, and while the case would dull down with time, the dial and sapphire would be a deal-breaker. Fix this and I’d buy one tomorrow.
Business news: Chanel acquires minority stake in F.P. Journe
Yes, you read that right. Luxury powerhouse Chanel has bought part of horological powerhouse F.P. Journe, in a deal that Chanel says “will enable Montres Journe SA to continue its development by ensuring its sustainability, as well as its autonomy”. So don’t panic, it sounds like the perpetual calendars and chronographs we know and love are here to stay. But – as when it acquired part of Romain Gauthier in 2011 – Chanel probably has A Plan for some of that F.P. Journe expertise to come across to its own watches, throwing up the tantalising prospect of a watch with the style of the Monsieur and pedigree from Messrs. Journe & Gauthier in tandem. Two things to take from this: Chanel is increasingly serious about high-end men’s watches, and life out there for “independent” watch brands is getting tougher.
What we’re craving: Oris’s eco-friendly strap
To mark World Clean Up Day (September 14th), Oris has announced a new type of strap for the Divers’ Sixty-Five, made from recycled PET plastic. The strap itself can be recycled when its time comes to an end, and saves roughly half the energy needed to make the equivalent plastic. It’s woven from a filament yarn that’s spun out of recycled polymers, dyed (in a manner that saves water) and certified UV-stable, so the colour won’t bleach in the sun. For every 1kg created, 3kg of CO2 is saved, apparently. Best of all, it looks absolutely cracking: we want one, badly. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to buy a Divers’ Sixty-Five to get it, as Oris isn’t selling the strap on its own. Too bad, eh?
Something to see: “The Clock”
If you are in London at any point between now and January 2019, set aside a couple of hours to visit Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” at the Tate Modern. First created in 2010 for the White Cube Gallery, it uses footage from the entire history of cinema to construct a real-time ‘clock’ that runs continuously for 24 hours, splicing together clips of clocks and watches to create a surreal, enrapturing work of art that is equal parts homage to classic films and meditation on our relationship with time and narrative. If you think you wouldn’t sit and watch the minutes tick past for hours on end, you’re wrong: it’s a blast trying to identify the clips, and the painstaking ingenuity with which they have been combined will leave you in awe.
Something to know: Phillips withdraws “Steve McQueen” Submariner from sale
One of the most hotly-debated watches in the vintage world right now has been withdrawn from Phillips’ December sale. The Rolex Submariner 5513 that the actor allegedly gave to his stuntman Loren Janes (and which is engraved “Loren, the best damn stuntman in the world. Steve”), has had both its provenance and service history called into question; it’s not clear when or under what circumstances it passed from McQueen to Janes, and following its retrieval from a house fire in 2016, there has been a considerable restoration done by Rolex, but also possibly in the interim as well. Last week, Phillips announced it was hooking the watch as the estate of Steve McQueen refuses to support its sale, citing concerns over its provenance. The full story has been covered at Forbes and Jake’s Rolex world among many other sites, and it’s well worth checking out.