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On Friday May 3 and Saturday May 4, WatchTime magazine will bring a version of its popular watch fair to Los Angeles for the first time. The event, held at Hudson Loft in Downtown L.A., will include 27 of the watch world’s most innovative and interesting brands presenting their latest timepieces. WatchTime L.A.’s brands range from big players such as Jaeger-LeCoultre (worn by directors Spike Lee and Jordan Peele to this year’s Oscars), Montblanc (a favorite of Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek) and Zenith (worn by Michael Strahan) to sought-after independent makers who may make 100 watches a year.
Attendees will get a chance to meet watchmakers including Romain Gauthier, Kari Voutilainen and RGM Watch Co.’s Roland Murphy (one of the key people bringing watchmaking back to the United States), and the event opens with a VIP cocktail party on Friday night. For more info on WatchTime L.A., go to watchtimeevents.com.
On Saturday, The Hollywood Reporter will co-present a panel discussion on “Hollywood Watch Collecting,” headlined by stylist Jeanne Yang (whose clients include Christian Bale, Jason Momoa, and Robert Downey Jr.), actor/director Fred Savage (whose watch collection includes pieces by Bell & Ross, Tudor and Rolex), collector Morgan King, and United Talent Agency partner David Park (whose favorite brands have included Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Panerai.)
The Hollywood Reporter first spoke to Yang about her love of watches in 2013, in a profile of her timepiece collection, which includes Cartiers, IWCs and Rolexes. Her first nice watch was a gift of a Rolex, at age 14, from her mother. THR caught up with her this week to talk about her latest watch obsessions, why she thinks timepieces are hotter than ever in Hollywood, and about the very Tony Stark pieces her client Downey Jr. has worn on the Avengers: Endgame circuit.
What’s on your wrist today?
I’m wearing a La Dona rose-gold Cartier. It’s based on the amazing Mexican actress Maria Felix who was a huge collector of Cartier. One day, she apparently brought in her new pet, a baby crocodile, and asked Cartier to make a jeweled replica as a necklace. The La Dona is a great watch in the sense that it looks like a piece of jewelry.
A lot of people worried the Apple Watch would make luxury timepieces less relevant. What are you seeing in Hollywood as far as interest in watches these days?
I feel like watches are becoming more and more important. When the recession happened, men were forced to finally make an effort to really care about their wardrobes. Often, the younger you are, the more dressed up you are. I cannot tell you how many middle-aged men have told me, ‘I really need to step it up. I need to take notice of my wardrobe and get things tailored and put everything together.’
Men’s fashion has become increasingly more important and the male peacock has become very out there on the red carpet. And with that the watch has become very important. It’s the accent. When you are wearing a suit or a tuxedo, what men can really flash is their watch. Wearing a watch is a nice way to elevate your look. It’s an important finishing touch.
For decades, the fashion brands have been fiendishly chasing stars to wear their designs on the red carpet. How is it the same or different with watch brands?
There are quite a few watch brands that go out of their way to say, ‘We’ll pay for somebody to wear our watches.’ I’ve seen a definite increase. It used to be jewelry. I think people are realizing, ‘Wow, putting a watch on somebody is just as significant a sales point.’ And I think absolutely people do notice. There are a million different hashtags for watches on Instagram.
How do you go about choosing a watch for an actor?
For me, it’s got to make sense. If I’m going to put a watch on someone, it’s got to be the right watch for the right person. It’s not just a matter of putting any old watch on someone. A lot of stylists have been offered financial incentives to put a watch on someone. If it doesn’t look right, though, it doesn’t make any sense. I’m not going to put the same watch on five different people. I’m really particular. Leather band or plastic band? What’s the face like? Oh, chocolate would be great with this suit. Or let’s do rose gold. For black tie for Christian Bale, let’s do a Cartier watch and make sure it matches the cufflinks.
Your client Robert Downey Jr. is famously a watch lover. It seems like he’s taking it to the next level right now with the watches he’s worn on the Avengers: Endgame press tour, from a classic Cartier on Jimmy Kimmel to an incredibly complicated Greubel Forsey to avant-garde pieces by Urwerk and De Bethune. What’s it like to work with him?
It’s really fun for me. He enjoys watches and really likes them. He wears Jaeger-LeCoultre, Rolex, Patek. For the tour though, we did some more insider brands. It was nice to wear some things that are totally different. For the L.A. premiere, he wore an Urwerk Black Cobra and he wears an Urwerk in the movie. That’s a very Tony Stark watch. He’s also worn two pieces by De Bethune. They totally match the look we are going for this tour. They have this interesting kind of pivoting head and floating face. They look super modern, kind of like the face of the Iron Man costume which is why I gravitated towards them.
What was really quite scary was he wore the Greubel Forsey double tourbillon when he put his hands into cement at the Chinese Theatre. I didn’t realize this is a $560,000 watch! Thank goodness it had a plastic band and it has a beautiful sapphire front and back casing so that way if anything happened it could be cleaned off.
What watch would you buy tomorrow if price and availability were no object?
I’ve wanted a Patek Philippe Nautilus for some time but I’ve gotta pay for college for my kids. So it’s gonna be put off for a while.
Watch companies must hate it when they pay an actor to wear a watch and then you can’t really see it on the red carpet. Is there anything you do to make sure it’s visible?
The biggest thing that you have to do is have a custom-made shirt and have your cuffs made bigger so that the watch will hang out a little bit more. That’s the trick. The other trick is to make sure you steam or press the cuff to within an inch of its life. I go to the shirtmaker Anto Beverly Hills.