The Story Behind the Favorite Watches of Designers and Executives

Alessandro Sartori, creative director, Zegna

Alessandro Sartori Zegna
Alessandro Sartori

Favorite watch: “My green Rolex Submariner, which is known as the Hulk. All three of my watches are Rolex. The first one I bought when I was 20, and it took all my savings to buy it.”

Rolex Submariner
A green Rolex Submariner

Backstory: “I got it during a special, emotional birthday, and it was the present that made that birthday so special. I remember the birthday, the age and the watch, and this was when I turned 50.”

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The appeal of watches: “I really have a lot of feelings with the things I wear: my ring, my watch, my bracelet. They are part of my outfit. I don’t feel fully complete and myself if I don’t have my timepiece. It’s part of my style and part of my personality. Also, I have never in my life decided what I’m going to wear the day before. I like to put together pieces depending on my feeling. When I travel, I need my watches. I need two or three photos, and I need my music. Then it feels like home.”

Benoit Pagotto, cofounder, RTFKT Studios

Benoit Pagotto, co-founder, RTFKT Studios
Benoit Pagotto’s avatar.

Favorite watch: “My grail time piece is my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, Ceramic Black.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked, Ceramic Black
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Wheel Openworked in Ceramic Black.

Backstory: “The Openworked to me has always been a dream to get, as it shows all the inner work and wizardry the Audemars Piguet craftsmen put into the watches. When you look at your wrist for time on this watch, you truly are taken into their world and have the real impression to have a ‘time machine’ on your wrist. When you look at the dial, you really feel you are diving into years of expertise and engineering, almost like it’s a magical artifact. The black ceramic on the case and bracelet is also mesmerizing, with the polishing and hand-cut ceramic. It’s truly a material that makes you feel like you have a kind of majestic piece of master work with you.”

The appeal of watches: “I’ve always been fascinated by Audemars Piguet, and how they managed to keep incredible tradition and craftsmanship, while being such an influential force in the culture.”

Ryan Goldston, co-chief executive officer and cofounder of APL — Athletic Propulsion Labs

Ryan Goldston of APL -Athletic Propulsion Labs.
Ryan Goldston of APL — Athletic Propulsion Labs.

Favorite watch: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième

Reverso Tribute Nonantieme
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Nonantième.

Backstory: “I’ve always loved Art Deco design, and this one celebrated the watch’s 90th anniversary. I actually received the watch the day my brother Adam and I launched our ‘Inspires Greatness’ campaign with Rolls-Royce so it takes on a special significance for me.”

The appeal of watches: “I already take so much time to create and it’s such artisans that create the movements, the components design and, again, like the way that we thought about designing shoes, there’s only so much headspace on the forefront of this watch. You had to be so creative and innovative with a small amount of space and I think with watching the same thing give us such a small amount of space to show your creativity and it’s just really cool to see something that is technical in nature, but yet so beautiful.

Samuel Ross, founder and creative director, A-Cold-Wall

Samuel Ross Hublot
Samuel Ross wearing the limited-edition timepiece he developed with Hublot.

Favorite watch: “The one I developed with Hublot. It follows a lineage of luxury sporting watches that I’ve been quite obsessed with for some time. The Rolex rose gold Yacht-Master with an Oysterflex bracelet, which was released in 2018, was one of my first luxury watch purchases. And it was this idea of producing a watch with the language of an industrial designer and artists. It wasn’t about copious amounts of gold, it was about how materials can work together to produce a solution.”

Big Bang Tourbillon Samuel Ross
The Big Bang Tourbillon that Samuel Ross designed for Hublot.

The appeal of watches: “I appreciate most the craftsmanship and the idea of a functional tool. The idea of carrying a tool. For me, the wristwatch carries the same importance as the handbag. It offers that same level of signaling and security as a Birkin. I have around seven luxury watches at the moment. I’m looking at a new one at the moment, as well as vintage watches. I’m looking at a Cartier Tank on a leather strap. There’s just something quite discerning about having a watch for all scenarios.”

Ian Rogers, chief experience officer, Ledger

Ian Rogers
Ian Rogers

Favorite watch: “I bought my first Tag Heuer Connected watch in the Madison Avenue Tag Heuer store the week it was released, seven years ago, just after I’d joined LVMH as chief digital officer. I’ve been updating the watch when the Tag Heuer team updates the product, which is often. The most recent update, announced last summer, comes with the ability to add NFTs you own to the watch face.”

Tag Heuer
NFTs are now available on Tag Heuer watches.

Backstory: “Back in the summer of 2021, I told Bernard Arnault, ‘You have a limited-edition watch. I am going to have a limited-edition watch face.’ This year we did it. Tag Heuer added the ability to add an NFT from your digital wallet. Since then I have been matching the face of my watch with an NFT that fits my mood, my day, and my outfit. I love it. Most of what I put on the watch face is a one of one, so it is not just a limited-edition watch, it’s a one-of-a-kind, the only one like it on the planet.”

The appeal of watches: “Let’s be honest, watches are jewelry for men. I love them. I love my Zenith, my Tag Heuers and my Hublot/Ledger collab watch for both the craft as well as the style. But my Tag Heuer Connected is a great combination of style and functionality. It looks great, is personalized by me, and I rely on it for notifications (so I can look at my phone less, in fact), weather, running, etc.”

Guram Gvasalia, creative director, Vetements

Guram Gvasalia wearing his <a href="https://wwd.com/tag/patek-philippe/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Patek Philippe" class="link ">Patek Philippe</a> 5970.
Guram Gvasalia wearing his Patek Philippe 5970.

The appeal of watches: “I fell in love with watches when I was 12 years old. I read an article about this guy, who was a big watch collector. I was so impressed by it, and said that one day I will become one as well. Being a refugee kid from Georgia, trying to find a way in Europe, it was a sweet dream. When I was 15, I worked the whole summer every day multiple shifts in a restaurant to buy my first vintage Rolex, an Airking model from 1972. I still have that watch. I still have every single watch I ever got, as they all define a certain period of my life. I keep and cherish them to one day pass them to my kids.”

A <a href="https://wwd.com/accessories-news/watches/crypto-crash-burst-luxury-watch-secondary-market-bubble-1235305137/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Patek Philippe" class="link ">Patek Philippe</a> with the unique reference of 5970 made for Eric Clapton.
A Patek Philippe with the unique reference of 5970 made for Eric Clapton.

Favorite watch: “At a certain stage, I got obsessed with Patek Philippe watches. There is one particular reference 5970, that is for me one of the most beautiful watches Patek has ever created. I managed to get this watch in every metal it exists, I even managed to get this reference with an extremely rare salmon dial, of which there are only four pieces in the world, but the most important watch I have is the unique reference of 5970 made for Eric Clapton. The watch collector I read about, who inspired me back when I was 12, was Eric Clapton.

“Important is to say that another watchmaker, Audemars Piguet, plays an important role in my heart. I have many beautiful pieces from them, but there are a few one-of-a-kind references I‘m waiting for that might take that first place one day.”

Heron Preston, founder

Heron Preston
Heron Preston

Favorite watch: “The Audemars Piguet Openworked ’50th Anniversary’ 16204ST in stainless steel, which is the original material and finish that AP started to release their watches in, goes back to history. My existing watches have been rose gold up to this point so it was time to give gold a break and look at the origin of the company. This model is one of the most beautiful releases from the 50th anniversary collection and I received it a few weeks ago from the AP team straight out of the boutique.”

Audemars Piguet Openworked '50th Anniversary' 16204ST in stainless steel
Audemars Piguet Openworked “50th Anniversary” 16204ST in stainless steel.

Backstory: “I’ve always been fascinated with the Openworked series AP has done; it’s unique and special to their range of watches. Ever since I’ve set eyes on it, I knew I had to get one.”

The appeal of watches: “I appreciate the craftsmanship and how long it takes to make a single watch. There is only one dedicated watchmaker per watch, it’s not really passed to anyone else. The love and care combined with the level of detail and craftsmanship in watch collecting itself is something I appreciate. It’s like wearing a piece of art.”

Casey Cadwallader, creative director, Mugler

Casey Cadwallader mugler
Mugler’s creative director Casey Cadwallader.

Favorite watch: “I’m really into more antique watches now, as in really old Audemars Piguet watches, which are gorgeous. And I really love the 1920s Patek Philippe, they’re my obsession at the moment, the really clean minimalist ones.”

Patek Philippe Early Yellow Gold Art Deco Square Tank Watch, circa 1923
A Patek Philippe early yellow gold Art Deco square tank watch from 1923.

Backstory: “It’s funny because I own one watch, but I’m very watch obsessed. I have a file on my phone of just watches because I look at a lot of auctions. I have an old Rolex because my parents bought it for me when I was graduating from college. They bought it used from the jewelry store that I used to work at when I was young and they dealt in vintage Rolexes. I like them, but I find them to be the Cadillac of watches, the stable, middle, good-quality thing.”

The appeal of watches: “I’m a psychopath for proportion and detail. So I don’t like big crazy watches that have all kinds of stuff on them. I like really pure proportions and so clean they look like a polished stone, where they’re so calm, that brings me peace to look at them. That’s what’s so cool about watches, it’s that everything is so refined and so tiny.”

Christopher Kane, founder and creative director

Christopher Kane
Christopher Kane

Favorite watch: “I love my Cartier Tank watch that was given to me recently from my partner for my 40th birthday. It’s such an iconic design classic that I have admired on many famous wrists like Muhammad Ali and Andy Warhol.”

A Cartier Tank with a black leather strap
A Cartier Tank with a black leather strap.

Backstory: “It’s so special to me because it’s from my partner, Massimiliano, and it highlights an important time in my life. Turning 40 is a milestone, and to receive something I will cherish forever and pass on to family is priceless.”

The appeal of watches: “When you think of Cartier, you instantly think of prestige. It’s a discerning and discreet item of jewelry that I love to wear.”

Giordano Calza, cofounder and chief executive officer, GCDS

Giordano Calza
Giordano Calza

Favorite watch: “My favorite watch and the one I regularly use is the 1980 Cartier Santos Galbée. It is a timeless style, one for those who don’t want to show off too much but have a watch suitable for every occasion.”

Cartier Santos Galbée
Cartier Santos Galbée

Backstory: “I bought it in a vintage shop in the Marais district in Paris. I love to negotiate and the negotiation for this watch lasted about 45 minutes, until the owner of the shop gave in smiling and telling me that my extreme interest and passion for that object was tangible and he was happy that I was the one to purchase it. I’m not very attached to objects, I don’t like the idea of ​​being a slave or dependent on them, but perhaps this watch is more of a good luck charm than just a timekeeper. Time for me is a precious asset: like a scale, it marks the weight I give to the people I share it with as well as to the projects I dedicate it to.”

The appeal of watches: “I like the idea that an object can live over decades, acquire value with time, be handed down and remain a timeless design product.”

J.J. Martin, founder, La DoubleJ

J.J. Martin
J.J. Martin

Favorite watch: “I have this wonderful piece from the 1960s that a friend of mine, shoe designer Alvaro Gonzalez, found at a vintage flea market and gave me for my 40th birthday. What I love about it is that it looks like a piece of jewelry, like this magnificent Egyptian bracelet with lapis and emerald (but, of course it’s just made of crystal, there are no actual precious stones in it). So this over-the-top band makes the watch look like this ornate, gorgeous, luxurious, decorative object.”

J.J. Martin's vintage watch.
J.J. Martin’s vintage watch.

Backstory: “I started La DoubleJ by selling my vintage collection of clothing and jewelry. I spent years going in and out of every vintage boutique, fair, church charity shop in America and Europe. In Italy, my partner in crime was Alvaro, so he knew my tastes back and forward. And of course, he gifted me with the most perfect wristwatch, it was really so sweet.”

The appeal of watches: “What’s so funny about wristwatches is that they’ve become such a rare commodity, nobody wears them anymore. So when you are wearing one it’s gotta have something special. I think banal, basic wristwatches are kind of pointless now that we all have an iPhone and a computer with a clock on it. We don’t technically need them anymore, so when I want to wear one it has to be a beautiful object in and of itself. And I love it when it has some sort of deeper connection, either to where you got it or to whomever gave it to you. It’s a very personal object, a wristwatch.”

Sarah Doukas, founder, Storm Model Management

Sarah doukas Jermaine Francis
Sarah Doukas

Favorite watch: Gold Ballon Bleu de Cartier

Ballon Bleu de Cartier
A gold Ballon Bleu de Cartier

Backstory: “I bought it at the airport in Barbados. I was on route to Mustique with my husband Timothy. My daughter Genevieve’s gorgeous friend Sophie Caulcutt, the cofounder of the Voyager Club, says that ‘often the greatest luxury is time.’ She encouraged me to buy it and my husband was initially horrified, but I love it and wear it every day.”

The appeal of watches: “The Cartier Ballon Bleu is a beautiful and timeless piece; it’s very chic.”

Zack Moscot, chief design officer, Moscot

Zach Moscot
Zack Moscot

Favorite wristwatch: My Bremont Pilot’s Watch

Bremont Pilot's Watch
The Bremont Pilot’s Watch

Backstory: “I was gifted it during a family trip to London. This watch, more than others, holds significant value to me as it represents a culmination of major milestones in my life. I’d definitely say it’s more than just a timepiece, but a piece to signify the time spent working with my dad and continuing to build the family business. My fascination with watches started from an early age and only continued to develop as I learned the importance of craftsmanship through my studies of product design.”

The appeal of watches: “I’ve spent much of my time focusing on the importance of craftsmanship, and watches are one of the other few accessories that represent timeless, quality design. I really appreciate the British heritage of my timepiece. I think the story is critical as oftentimes a watch is about what it means to you; it may be an heirloom — something that is generational. As a designer, I am quite into the timeless aesthetic of timepieces as well as their durability and reliability. I’ve always thought about time differently as the fifth generation of a 107-year family business, and looking down at my wristwatch reminds me of more than just the time of day, but also the importance of continuing a legacy that started long before me.”

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