An Element of Style


Do you still wear a wristwatch? Or do you rely on your cellphone? I do both depending on the occasion.

I got my “everyday watch,” a stainless steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust like the one above, the hard way. I inherited it. My father bought it sometime in the late ’50’s or early ’60’s, probably from the PX. It was never the same after Vietnam — the humidity, rain and sweat did in the insides. Against my better judgement, I had it reconditioned. The patina is gone — much to my chagrin — but it works better than ever. And at USD$300 a throw for cleaning, etc. it seemed a wise investment. I hope my son appreciates it.

It’s a great watch, don’t get me wrong. Very comfortable to wear, the band especially, considering it is a steel link thing. I don’t wear it with a dinner jacket. And some of my better made shirt cuffs don’t accommodate its bulk very well. (I like very fitted cuffs.) Of course I could ape L’Avvocato and wear it over the cuff, but there really was only one Gianni Agnelli.

L\'Avvocato looking stylish and pensive.

I’d like something that I could wear on more formal evenings. An elegant, slim, leather banded watch adds an element of style to the severe black and white of dinner clothes.

Before my father’s watch came into my possession, I ruined my favourite watch. It wasn’t very expensive, but it made me feel very elegant. It was a copy of a 1940’s Hamilton tank watch on a pigskin band, then an alligator band, then another as I sweated through each whilst working as a dance instructor. I eventually sweated through the insides of the watch, too, hopelessly rusting the mechanism.

(Image TimelyClassics)

The tank watch may be my favourite watch shape. I’d love a Jaeger-LeCoulter Reverso, the watch created for polo players, which flips over to protect the face behind an engravable back.

The Reverso by Jaeger-LeCoulter

But given my history with perspiring through watches… having the face against my wrist may not be the smartest way to go.

Another to consider, a very elegant model, is the Hermès Cape Cod 1928.

(Image Men.Style.Com)

A Cape Cod Gent in Rose Gold (or the Moonphase edition) is an attractive alternative.

(Image Europastar Magazine)

Really, the grandfather of them all, the “original” tank watch was inspired by the modern design of the Renault tank. Louis Cartier, who designed the iconic time piece in 1917, even gave the prototype to General Pershing. So groundbreaking was the design that it remains one of the most coveted timepieces in the world. A pre-War (II) tank watch would be a very grand watch to own indeed. There is even a book dedicated to tracing the evolution of Mr. Cartier’s watch.

(Available through

Whether you opt for the original design (Louis Cartier Tank from Gemnation), or the Tank Americaine, or any of the tank line really, this is the watch to wear with your dinner jacket.

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