Pret-a-Reporter

'Compton' Star Aldis Hodge's Guide to Six-Figure Watches

11:00 AM 11/24/2015

by Degen Pener

The actor — who studied horology in college and is developing his own watch — names his top seven mechanical marvels of 2015.

Aldis Hodge, wearing his Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde watch, was photographed Oct. 24 in New Orleans.
Daymon Gardner

Aldis Hodge would like to have gone to watchmaking school; he just hasn't had time. The actor — who portrayed MC Ren in 2015's Straight Outta Compton and starred for five seasons on TNT's Leverage — studied horology as an undergrad at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, basically creating his own major. "They didn't have a watchmaking course. I consider myself a self-taught horologist," says Hodge, 29, who stars next in the upcoming WGN America series Underground about the underground railroad, due out early next year.

Additional schooling would have gotten in the way of his on-fire acting career, which includes starring in the upcoming Jack Reacher sequel with Tom Cruise. So Hodge indulges his passion for watches between takes.

"The watches I love are haute aspirational," says Hodge, a fan of such whizbang features as minute-repeater functions (which beautifully chime the hour) and mechanisms that find new ways to control force within a watch. "I'd like people to become more familiar with high-end engineering."

These days, Hodge isn't just collecting watches. He's sketching them as well. In the next few years, he plans to launch a timepiece line called Basil (his middle name) and says he's working with a strategist who's behind an established brand. Beyond that, he won't say much — "we have to protect everything" — but among his ambitions is to produce his own in-house movement. "If I wear a watch, I want it to tell a story."

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  • For a Film Premiere

    +A. Lange & Sohne, Zeitwerk Minute Repeater

    Courtesy of A. LANGE & SOHNE

    "At a premiere, all eyes should be on you, and this easy-to-read watch is one of the most well-executed designs in a superb collection. Upping the awesome factor is a decimal minute-repeater. When you engage the minute-repeater function at 7:52, as shown in this photo, the watch will chime seven low tones for the hour and five high-low tones and two high tones to indicate the minutes. Because a minute-repeater drains the barrel, a system of checks and balances disengages the repeater once the power reserve reaches 12 hours. Genius!"

    $467,700, at A. Lange & Sohne, New York, and South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa

  • For a Photo Shoot

    Jaeger-LeCoultre, Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication

    Courtesy of JAEGER- LECOULTRE

    "This breathtaking creation has me stunned. A flying tourbillon floats around the zodiac constellations every 23 hours and 56 minutes, which is known as a sidereal day, a time period that is calculated by tracking the Earth’s position relative to a fixed star that is not the sun. A rotating sun represents standard 24-hour time. This watch takes the wearer back to the early days of timetelling, the foundation of which came from astronomy. Every detail of this piece, from the rose gold case to its minute-repeater complication, is exquisite."

    Price upon request, at Jaeger-LeCoultre, Beverly Hills, and South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa

  • For a Studio Meeting

    Greubel Forsey, Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision

    Courtesy of GREUBEL FORSEY

    "This unique find shows you have a superb eye, something everyone searches for in a business partner. I’ve worn this watch, and pictures don’t do it justice. The tourbillon window on the back is domed to offer greater appreciation for the hand-polished tourbillon bridge, yet it still wears comfortably. The enameled gold dial and hand-finished indication needles are beyond exceptional in quality, and the tourbillon dances flawlessly, making a full rotation every 24 seconds. The quality of watchmaking is purity in its highest regard." 

    $325,000, at Westime, Beverly Hills, and Cellini, New York

  • For an Awards Show

    Girard-Perregaux, Minute Repeater Tourbillon Golden Bridges

    Courtesy of Gerard - Perregaux

    "The eloquence in design and functionality of this watch is a perfect fit for holding up an Oscar or a Golden Globe. I can’t say enough times how gorgeous this is. Girard-Perregaux never slacks on the details — you can acquire an honest appreciation for finishing, polishing and assembly with one look. This is a minute-repeater, but, unlike the Zeitwerk, it is a quarter-repeater, which means that it chimes the intervals of minutes according to four quarters of the hour." 

    $395,000, at Westime, Los Angeles, and Cellini, New York

  • For Signing a Deal

    Breguet, Tradition Chronograph Independent 7077

    Courtesy of BREGUET

    "This gorgeous watch from a company with staying power is a great way to celebrate. Breguet was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, who invented the tourbillon, so let’s start by saying that every true horology aficionado should have a Breguet. This ingenious piece has two balance wheels. One operates constantly, while the other, which is lighter in weight, operates when the chrono feature is engaged, which helps even out its distribution of power to maintain performance." 

    $79,700, at Breguet, New York, Beverly Hills and South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa

  • For a Fashion Show

    Arnold & Son, Constant Force Tourbillon

    Courtesy of ARNOLD & SON

    "This stylish piece would complement any sharp suit. Coming in at a whopping 46mm in diameter may intimidate some, but it’s not overbearing given its sleek design. Someone who enjoys pondering the inner workings of things could gaze at this skeletonized watch all day and get lost within its beautiful intricacies. The constant force movement means that when the energy from the first barrel depletes, the second barrel engages to continue providing consistent energy — all the while maintaining a sweeping tourbillon and a jumping seconds hand."

    $197,500, at Feldmar Watch Co., Los Angeles

  • For a Press Tour

    Montblanc, Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama

    Courtesy of MONTBLANC

    "This beast was made for managing dual time zones. From the Villeret series, it is a nod to explorer Vasco da Gama; it’s not hard to become an explorer yourself navigating through all its facets. They include hand-painted Northern and Southern hemispheres (each displays a different time zone) and the tourbillon, which whirs to life underneath the signature braided bridge. Montblanc is making great strides in earning its place among the titans of horology. When you look at this beauty, you know why."

    Price upon request, at Montblanc, Los Angeles, New York and South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa

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