In 1877, Vacheron Constantin chose the Maltese cross as its company symbol, in tribute to a cross-shaped
barrel component that, by limiting tension within the mainspring, reduced the number of cogs necessary for
winding. Almost a century- and-a-half later, the world’s oldest continually operating watch manufacturer has
introduced arguably the most elegant expression of this modestly dignified emblem to date.
The Fiftysix collection’s narrative, as the name suggests, begins in the mid fifties, when Vacheron Constantin
introduced their first water-resistant automatic watch. It was a bold new step for the manufacture in terms of
design language, thanks largely to the way its lugs protruded from its 40mm pink-gold case, echoing the shape of the
Maltese cross (it also had a box-type crystal topping the bezel, as was typical of post-war watches).
Then, in 2018, SIHH attendees were wowed by three new additions to the Fiftysix collection, one including complete
calendar with precision moonphase, available in gold or steel — the first time timepieces made from both materials
were available in a single Vacheron Constantin collection. A version that nodded to the watch world’s ongoing love
affair with blue dials followed last year, and now two new versions — a complete calendar model and a self-winding
model — are available in sepia brown.
The warm, organic hue of the new models’ dials — which, on examination, have opaline, sunburst and snailed finishes,
which offer mischievous interactions with light and improve legibility — juxtapose beautifully with the pink-gold
40mm case, while the new calfskin leather strap stretches the Fiftysix range’s repertoire into more casual
The self-winding movement, in that particular model’s case, is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback; in both
models, owners can gaze through the reverse side at a Côtes de Genève decoration and an openworked, 22-carat
pink-gold oscillating weight whose design offers another nod to the Maltese cross. The complete calendar version,
meanwhile, as well as day, date and month indications, has a precision moonphase that will require no adjustment for
Vacheron’s new women’s collection, the diamond-studded Égérie Moon Phase, is snatching the headlines at the moment,
but this altogether quieter duo — which offer a textbook study on how to nail vintage-contemporary watch design with
authority — is showing that a maker that was the first to convert watch movements into calibres and created the
pantographic device has also got aesthetic smarts in spades.
It’s a safe bet that, beholding this, the medieval knights who first donned the Maltese cross would consider Vacheron
to be exemplary custodians of their eight-pointed symbol.
Budd Shirtmakers pyjama shirts and face masks
It’s not surprising that most sartorial nomenclature brought back from India by colonial officer types — jodhpur,
cummerbund, cashmere — denote a gentrified lifestyle, and ‘pyjamas’ should be no exception. After all, there’s
something inherently raffish about opting for uncompromising elegance even when the togs in question will never be
seen by anyone but your householders.
Even before impromptu early morning Zoom meetings became part of our daily lives, though, stylish pyjamas have been
playing a more substantial role in stylish people’s diurnal existences. So much so, the team at Budd noticed a while
back that many of its customers were buying pyjama sets with the intention of wearing only the shirt (you might have
noticed the trend at Pitti and at various fashion weeks).
With no little commiseration extended to the neglected bottoms, Budd developed their pyjama shirt as a standalone
item. Styled to be worn alone over shorts or casual trousers, or with a blazer or jacket, they are at the pinnacle
of what Budd’s cutter and designer James MacAuslan refers to as “sartorially casual”, and “look as at home on the
beach as they do worn more elegantly in town”, as he puts it.
The pyjama shirt — available in cream silk with navy piping and navy poplin with white piping, and sized between
small and extra-large, like Budd’s existing casual and safari shirts — features an informal camp collar (notched,
soft and unstructured for a relaxed vibe) as well as an out-breast pocket, piped edges and straight bottom, all
evocative of Budd’s classic pyjamas. The yoke and collar take their cue from the house’s classic men’s shirts. The
silk is pre-shrunk and woven in England, the poplin milled in Switzerland.
Pyjama shirts such as this are available for pre-order from Budd’s website, but supply, for the time being, may
outstrip demand, and for good reason. Budd, like their Jermyn Street siblings Turnbull & Asser, have set their
workshops to the task of producing personal protective equipment (masks and scrubs) for frontline and key workers;
the masks will also, eventually, go online, with proceeds of sales going to The Passage, a homeless shelter in
Victoria, south-west London.
George Cleverley Dawson bag
George Cleverley are, to footwear,
what Aston Martin are to cars, as a vast array of customers past (Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Sir
Winston Churchill) and present (Jason Statham, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, David Beckham) would attest. Their stature
in that realm is all the more remarkable for the fact that they are one of just a handful of independently owned
bespoke shoemakers in the world.
But there’s more to that hum of masterly endeavour — sometimes audible from the ground floor of its premises in
Mayfair’s Royal Arcade — than just old-fashioned artisanal cordwaining: bags, too, are among Cleverley’s growing
repertoire. The one you see before you, whose loop handles offer a nod, perhaps, to the tote bag’s new status as an
option for stylish men, is hand-stitched by the same expert craftsman whose handiwork has graced the silver screen
in movies from Murder on the Orient Expressto the Kingsmanfranchise via Hobbs &
Shaw(which stars Statham, who, incidentally, is a close friend of George Glasgow Jr., Cleverley’s co-owner and
chief executive). The pocket inside, designed for a laptop or iPad, is padded to protect the contents during travel,
while on the opposite side is a full-length zip pocket, two large phone compartments, and two pen pockets. “The
Dawson is designed for the modern client,” says the aforementioned Glasgow Jr., a man whose authority on style goes
beyond his position at Cleverley (he was named one of just seven ‘Men of Style’ in the Los Angeles- based luxury
magazine Angelenolast year).
“We wanted to make something that was within the DNA of the George Cleverley brand but would also appeal to the
modern- day traveller who wants something unique and luxury. So we took our ‘Bond Street’, which we designed in
2010, and changed the handles to loop ones to offer a unique look with a modern feel.”
Glasgow Jr. recently described modern men as being “willing to invest in a bag in the same way as they might have
done in the past with shoes or a bespoke suit”. It’s a salient point upon this product’s launch, and, given
Cleverley’s fanatical approach to product construction and the sourcing of animal hides, you can rest assured this
investment — like Cleverley shoes — will have improved by the time you hand it down to your descendants.
Read the full story in Issue 70 of The Rake - on newsstands now.
Subscribe and buy single issues here.