I HAVE NEVER really been a watch person. In fact, throughout the course of my life, I can remember only one watch that had any kind of special significance for me — a Coca-Cola Swatch Watch I was obsessed with and tragically lost when its plastic band snapped during a roller-coaster ride at Six Flags, sending it flying into the stratosphere somewhere over Dallas, Texas. Later in life, when it might have made sense for me to buy a proper watch, I had already developed a codependent relationship with a different kind of timekeeper: my cell phone. This of course led to the inevitable Apple Watch, which would not only tell me the time, but also keep me psychologically tethered to my work email 24 hours a day. So, in a recent effort to feel more adult and to pay attention to my mental health, I decided to invest in a grown-up, wholly analog watch — a device that would not simply tell time (though I’d soon come to find it would do that perfectly), but also transmit to the world that I am an adult man with good taste, one who doesn’t need reminders from a wrist computer to do basic human things like stand up or sleep.
As a novice watch buyer, I entered the realm of luxury watches the same way one might step into a showroom filled with Italian sports cars — with no small amount of awe and a healthy amount of intimidation. The world of luxury watches is vast. A nice watch is both a utilitarian object and an investment, a collectible piece of jewelry and a symbol of status. To shop for a luxury watch is also to fall down a rabbit hole of discussions about movements, endlessly customizable options, and a price range both exorbitant and infinite, depending on what you want.
After looking at several options, I eventually landed on the Classic Fusion Black Magic Bracelet by Hublot. The Swiss luxury watchmaker has been producing beautiful timepieces since the early 1980s, and the brand’s Fifth Avenue store is both chic and serene.
Though I felt woefully ignorant about things like the difference between a bezel and a case or what kind of crystal was used in the watch face, the staff was lovely and incredibly helpful. You can get the Black Magic with different bands, including a black rubber strap, but I opted for the Black Magic bracelet, which means it has a metal band sized appropriately for your wrist. The watch also comes in a couple of different sizes; I opted for the 42mm version, which felt substantial on my arm but not too heavy, with the added benefit of a watch face that was not so large as to make my forty-something wrist appear comically frail. The watch is matte black, with a face and case that combines polished and satin-finished black ceramic with six H-shaped titanium screws. It also boasts Hublot’s own “Art of Fusion” self-winding movement and a 42-hour power reserve. The watch bracelet itself consists of links of black ceramic with a black-plated titanium clasp. It feels futuristically cool to the touch, as if carved out of pure obsidian.
In looking at the watch on my wrist — and then walking around the Hublot showroom while wearing it to get a sense of how it felt — the only word I can use to describe the feeling it generated was one of gravitas. Weighty, but in a good way. The same way that putting on a nice suit or a perfectly chosen pair of shoes can change one’s entire demeanor, wearing the Black Magic seemed to connote a certain kind of purposeful mindset. Beautiful, expensive, perfectly engineered, but subtly attenuated. Luxe, yet somehow unfussy. Putting it on, I felt a shift in my posture. I realized that this must be why people love watches so much. Ostensibly, they simply tell time — but the right one manages to say so much more.
T. Cole Rachel Writer
T. Cole Rachel is the deputy editor of Departures. A Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, and the Creative Independent.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.