How To Choose A Luxury Watchband

Whilst choosing a replacement watchstrap will change the look of your wristwatch selecting the right one can be a challenge.

Here are some of the factors you should consider when shopping for a new band.

Carefully examine the band you’re replacing: You may well be looking for the same or a similar strap to the one you wore previously but you could also enhance the appearance of your watch by getting a new watchband in a different color or material. It’s important to make sure that you measure the length and width of your old band so you can be certain that your new band will fit correctly. Another important measurement is the height of the padding in the band. A chunky watch such as a Rolex will look better with 5mm padding whereas an ultra thin Piaget is better paired with a flat strap with no padding at all.

Check how your current strap attaches: You’ll need to search for a new watchband that attaches in the same way as your existing strap and that fits flush with the lugs. You may well need a special tool to change the strap, or you may prefer to take it to a jeweler to get the job done for you.

Set your price point: Dependent upon how much you may wish to spend, watch band replacements can be inexpensive or highly priced. If you are seeking a truly luxurious option there is no substitute for Louisiana alligator leather as used by such prestigious watch brands such as Patek Phillippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet. If alligator is your material of choice there are no better straps than those made by the master craftsmen of France. The best French watchbands such as those made by luxury goods brand Bianca Mosca are made from the finest square scale alligator skin and are entirely handmade and hand sewn. You can choose from a multitude of colors, matte or shiny finishes and even select the color of the stitching.

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Examine your lifestyle: If you are planning on taking your watch near to water, consider getting a durable backing for your strap made from rubber. For something to complement a dress watch alligator bands are usually your best option. Buying watchbands made from quality materials will make any watch look more luxurious and draw admiring glances.

New Men’s Knits From Inis Meáin

Inis Meáin is one of the Aran Islands that are strewn across the mouth of Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland.

For centuries, the fishermen’s garments have been knitted by the women of the island. Knitting was just one of a number of skills that islanders had to learn and to master, to create a way of living in a very inhospitable place.

From this island, the Inis Meáin range is exported all over the world. All of their clothes bear the symbol of the upturned currach. The currach is the islanders’ fishing boat or canoe, made from tarred canvas stretched across a wooden frame. There is no natural protection from the Atlantic, so the fishermen must carry their craft up from the shore after every voyage.

Structured cardigans are proving to be a growing trend and Inis Meáin’s hand knits are excellent examples of the genre.

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Their new styles are knitted in the finest yarns – Wool, Cashmere, Baby Alpaca, Linen, Silk etc. sourced from the finest mills in Europe and South America. Subtle colours, inspired by land and sea, which reflect the landscape and seasons.

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The Atelier Approach

Paraffection S.A. is the subsidiary of Chanel that was established in 1997 to preserve the heritage, craft and manufacturing skills of a group of highly skilled fashion artisans working in specialist ateliers located mainly in the Paris region.

By 2015, Paraffection had acquired twelve “Atelier d’Art” or workshops capable of providing the parent company Chanel with the specialized skills required to decorate and embellish its haute couture creations.

“The driving force behind our decision to take over these companies was affection,” insists Paraffection director Dominique Barbiery. Cleverly, the Paraffection investments have been marketed as a labor of love.

‘Paraffection’ loosely translates to mean ‘for the love of”. Mr Barbiery states that Chanel’s relationship with its satellite firms is to “protect, advise and assist” the firms, not gobble them up, merge them or take over their work.

This year Chanel will celebrate its 13th Métiers d’Art show an annual event to honor the fine craftsmanship that its artisan partners in the Paraffection group bring to the house’s collections. With a runway show that takes place outside the traditional fashion schedule, each year, Chanel turns to a different location to pay tribute to the workshops that provide the house with everything from lace to silver buttons and fine embroidery work. After Salzburg last year, Dallas in 2013, Edinburgh in 2012 and previous shows in Mumbai and New York, Chanel headed to Rome for last season’s Métiers d’Art 2015, in the city’s Cinecittà film complex.

Chanel is not the only institution safeguarding French fashion. When, in 2012, the French lingerie manufacturer Lejaby announced plans to outsource production to Tunisia, then president Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to seek a solution. Lejaby was bought out by a French leather goods manufacturer that supplies Louis Vuitton, in a move overseen by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and close friend of Sarkozy, who called the takeover part of “the battle for employment in France”.

Within the leather goods industry companies such as Hermès continue the tradition of artisan production at their atelier in Pantin near Paris where the prevailing sentiment is that of everlasting love: each bag is affectionately crafted by a single artisan from start to finish, which would explain why they only turn out two pieces a week. No leather-worker is allowed to intervene in another colleague’s bag and each individual has their own set of tools, which they eventually take home with them when they retire.

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Similarly Bianca Mosca, known for it’s ultra luxury exotic and precious leather bags and accessories, is a close adherent of the atelier approach.

Visiting their fragrant workshops in Italy and France is a real sensory experience. Your eyes, your nose, you ears; they’re all part of a luxurious journey. First, it’s the tap-tap-tapping sound that rhythmically follows your every step, a sign of industrious hands at work. Then it’s the smell of the leather, from the simplest and supplest Taurillon leather to rare finds like Louisiana alligator in a rainbow of colors, all sourced by Bianca Mosca’s experienced leather-hunters.

What is clear is that making luxurious objects in the ancient traditions espoused by the true ateliers of France and Italy takes time-a lot of time.

“The end result is worth it” says Tim de Rosen of Bianca Mosca.

What Is The Difference Between Luxury And Bespoke

“Louis Vuitton has become too ordinary,” a billionaire woman told China Market Research Group. “Everyone has it. You see it in every restaurant in Beijing. I prefer Chanel or Bottega Veneta now. They are more exclusive.”

Gucci is similarly suffering from a reputation problem, while bespoke goods and less-well-known European labels are soaring in popularity amongst affluent buyers.

Exclusivity is the eternal watchword of the luxury goods industry. But in the digital age where information is ubiquitous how can luxury purveyors maintain the aura of being exclusive when their brands are in danger of becoming over exposed?

Bespoke items remain the ultimate luxury good.

The concept of bespoke dates back to the emergence of London’s Savile Row in the eighteenth century as the premier tailoring destination for men’s clothing, including suiting, shirts and shoes, designed for and made specifically to the measurements of each customer.

Over time, the term bespoke has evolved to gain a wider currency that today encapsulates any luxury product or experience that has been specifically tailored to the exact requirements of a customer. It is entirely separate from the over-worked expressions custom or made to measure whose meaning is to make certain adjustments to an existing design or pattern.

Bespoke is the epitome of the luxury experience and therefore inherently the most expensive option available.

Whether it’s a handmade suit from Brioni, a specially commissioned cigar humidor by Elie Bleu or an alligator bag from Bianca Mosca the ultra‐high‐end and bespoke category is a no‐limit segment where all the craziest dreams (and prices) come true.

“The brands bought are actually more important than the level of money earned,” HSBC managing director Erwan Rambourg wrote in his recent book, “The Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Just Begun.”

Rambourg created a brand pyramid to show how major brands range in accessibility from everyday luxuries to ultra-high-end luxury and bespoke like Hermès and Bianca Mosca.

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What of the future? If it’s a safe bet now that tomorrow’s luxury consumer will seek brands that speak to their unique selves, further down the road, logic says it will go one step further: affluent consumers will demand solutions that can adapt on the fly to precisely the person they want to impress.

Bourbon In Your Sporran

I’m always a little suspicious of so called “travel exclusives” sold in Duty Free. Especially those being pushed by certain well known purveyors of Malt Whisky. With no age statements you’re never quite sure what’s in the bottle.

None the less I’ve been impressed by the recent offerings from Laphroaig, one of my two favourite makers from Islay where the peaty water lends a smokey flavour to a dram.

Having sampled the PX bottling with its first maturation in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks I was recently gifted a bottle of the QA. QA stands for Quercus Alba which translates into American oak. The first maturation starts with ex-bourbon barrels followed by a period spent in charred American white oak casks.

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It’s the second maturation which gives the whisky a mix of peat and  spicy vanilla notes. A lingering sweetness finishes with some interesting soft woodiness.

Whilst not as impressive as the aforementioned PX, the QA is a worthy addition to the Laphroaig line up and is certainly worth it’s $85 asking price.

 

The Quintessential Hoodie

Despite advancing age I am always seeking ways of staying in touch with my youth. One such recent search was a quest to find the perfect cashmere hoodie in a grey hue.

Sounds like a relatively simple demand but a trawl through the usual suspects (Hermès, Cucinelli et al) revealed little or nothing of interest.

About to give up in frustration my final thought was to take a peek at the offerings on the N Peal website. Much to my delight I found exactly what I was searching for. As a delightful added bonus N Peal is currently offering £60 off the original price as part of their seasonal reductions.

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The hoodie looks fabulous with a classic white T Shirt and jeans or could be used equally well after a session at the gym. Crafted from 100% Mongolian cashmere it’s soft to the touch and certainly one of the most luxurious hoodies I’m likely to own.

Oh My Darling-Gifts For Your Valentine

Is the globe spinning faster on it’s axis or is it just me? With Christmas barely over here comes Valentine’s Night galloping into view.

Facing the perennial question of what to buy for your beloved whilst avoiding the cliche- ridden options of flowers and chocolates is a real dilemma.

Here are a few (hopefully) useful ideas….

HER

Whilst not inexpensive the gorgeous alligator wallets from Bianca Mosca will win you undying love and affection for life. Their handmade creations are crafted in a small family owned atelier deep in the French countryside and not far from the Swiss border. Something similar from Hermes would be almost as costly as a small car.

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No man (or woman for that matter) has ever gone wrong by proffering the gift of a well judged fragrance. Frédéric Malle’s Une Fleur de Cassie (£170 for 100ml EDP) – it uses both mimosa and cassie for a seductive blend that starts cool and powdery and ends in suede and spice is such a delight. Although not for all tastes it will be well received by sophisticates and experienced fragrance wearers.

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Emilio Pucci fans of which there are many will fall in love with the new Janis bag in Python and Suede that sports a UK price of £1320. Try the Pucci boutique or Matches Fashion in Marylebone High Street.

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HIM

As my legion of fans will recollect from previous posts I am a huge admirer of the venerable house of Turnbull & Asser owned by the retail titan and legendary hotelier Mohammed Al-Fayed.

One of my proudest possessions is a fabulously indulgent silk dressing gown that I acquired several years ago and which I maintain in a perfect state. Arriving at breakfast wearing such a piece is certain to arouse feelings of intense jealousy and envy from fellow guests. Just the feelings I seem to want to evoke-in my dreams!

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On a slight more modest note but none the less a delightful apercu of a gift Drake’s Bird of Paradise pocket square will prove it’s worth as a sublime addition to any elegant outfit.

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What could be more appropriate than a hat named for the famed Italian Master of the Art of Love, Casanova. The Sensi Studio Casanaova Hat is £156 and available from Sensi’s website. (Other colours available).

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