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The Fashion Memo

The watch icons you need to know now

‘Ballon Bleu’ watch, Cartier; earrings, Pippa Small; top, Jacquemus

Let us introduce 2021’s most coveted timepieces, as CHARLIE BOYD decodes their prestigious pedigree and explains their irresistible allure

Fashion

Cartier ‘Ballon Bleu’

Icons are not always ancient. First designed in 2007, Cartier’s ‘Ballon Bleu’ was met with rapturous applause by both the watch world and the fashion set alike – it was impossible not to be enchanted by its seductive volume, thanks to its domed dial and case back. Nestled in the palm of your hand, it sits like an objet d’art – you have to feel it to believe it. At 40mm, the newest addition to the ‘Ballon Bleu’ family is a serious and sizable timepiece that flaunts its voluminous curves. Crafted in 18-karat rose gold, this new iteration is adorned with scintillating diamonds and the watch’s signature cabochon sapphire crown. That flash of opulent blue has become the timepiece’s iconic calling card – instantly recognizable and often spotted on the wrist of the Duchess of Cambridge. If you, too, have a sapphire engagement ring, this is the timepiece that will marry perfectly with your wedding jewelry, or perhaps serve as a self-gifted symbol of success.

Jaeger-LeCoultre ‘Reverso’

Originally conceived for the polo field, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ‘Reverso’ could have been an unlikely icon for women’s watch design, but it is perhaps the most iconic of all. The flippable case, first designed for sportsmen to pop out and whizz over in order to protect their watch dial during play, soon revealed its incredible versatility and scope for imaginative design. Before long, it was reinterpreted with dustings of diamonds, secret inscriptions and, with two dials within the one timepiece, dual-time potential. The ‘Reverso’ has been interpreted in innumerable models since it was first conceived in 1931, and this latest creation is a testament to its enduring appeal, 90 years later. Featuring both a white and a black face, and presented on a coffee-hued leather strap, this latest model is a timeless incarnation that will lend itself to easy-going casual wear just as easily as smarter styling.

‘Reverso’ watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre; earrings, Octavia Elizabeth; dress, Proenza Schouler
From left: Cartier, Hermès Timepieces, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin ‘Historiques American 1921’

Celebrating its 100th year, the ‘Historiques American 1921’ is a striking timepiece with quirky charisma and trailblazing charm. Harnessing the unbridled creativity of the Roaring Twenties, the ‘Historiques American 1921’ was a groundbreaking moment for wrist watches – Vacheron Constantin took a classic watch face and twisted it by 45 degrees to enable diagonal reading of time. While dance halls were filled with Charleston dance music and surrealists dominated the art scene, pocket watches were being abandoned in favor of imaginative wristwatches with miniaturized movements, including the ‘Historiques American 1921’. Although first adored by driving enthusiasts, who could more easily read the time while at the wheel, another notable patron was American writer and clergymen Samuel Parkes-Cadman, famed for his fight for racial equality and anti-Semitic campaigning, who would discreetly discern the time at a glance during his motivational sermons. While most of us will be employing it for more humble enterprises, the rich history of the timepiece lives on in this newest white-gold model, emboldened by a luxurious burgundy leather strap.

‘Historiques American 1921’ watch, Vacheron Constantin; earrings, Anita Ko; top, The Row; skirt, Paco Rabanne