In the international status game the watch is the biggest bling. Discover what glam tick tocks are favoured by the rich and famous…
It was two o’clock on a hot day in Monte Carlo, and I was invited to lunch on a yacht owned by a Prince, who held court each day from one to four, when he was in the country. Dress was elegant casual, with men in Ralph Lauren polo shirts and shorts, and the women in Pucci bikinis and Roberto Cavalli kaftans.
Three backgammon games were in progress, with rather more money involved than I could handle. But there was also a side gamble for lower stakes. It was lucky dip called The Watch Game. For $10 we dipped into a red velvet bag for a piece of paper, which had one name on it. The name of a watch.
The winner was the holder of the paper with the name of the watch most worn by the guests that day. The winner left with $300, the runner-up with $150, and the third place with $50.
Just before I left, the Prince came up and gave me $50. I had won third prize, with Jaeger-Le-Coultre. I asked him what won.
“The first two were the same as yesterday: Cartier and Rolex. You were just ahead of Breitling and Ebel.”
“Do Cartier and Rolex often win?” I asked.
“More than any others,” he said, with a huge grin. “But we’ve had days when Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Piaget and Dunhill have won.”
“At dinners, with smaller numbers, it’s often Patek Philippe and Blancpain.”
“Sometimes with just my yachting friends, Ulysee Nardin, Breitling and Corum win. When the Princesss is entertaining her friends, she’s had Bvlgari, Chaumet, Franck Muller, Chopard and Tiffany as winners.”
As I left, I thanked the Prince, and mentioned my good luck in winning. “Why watches?” I asked him.
“Because watches are so beautiful. They are the best jewellery a woman – or a man – can wear. They combine the miracle of modern technology with the art of a craftsman.” Then, he added, “And, they tell you a lot about the person wearing them!”
Before I could ask exactly what they told, he smiled, and waved me on to the quay, and turned to the next departing guest.
I still don’t know what your watch does say about you, but I did decide to find out who made up the Cartier Clique, Rolex Rangers, TAG Heuer Circuit, Ebel Elite and the Omega Factor.
THE CARTIER CLIQUE
Natasha Richardson, Naomi Campbell and Uma Thurman are some of the VIPs who wear Cartier’s Tank Francaise watch – the squarer, squatter version of the Original Classic Tank, launched in 1919.
Cartier’s Panthere Ruban, in 18 carat white gold, is also a mega hit with Hollywood movers and shakers, and adorns more wrists in Hello! than you or I have had glasses of Perrier.
Jemina Khan, Nicole Kidman, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Sarah, Duchess of York and Julia Roberts are keen Panthere fans. Prince Albert of Monaco prefers the Santos model; as do actors Kurt Russell and Liam Neeson.
Polo playing actress Stephanie Powers always wears Cartier. So do Joely Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise.
Fashion designers Donna Karan, Stella McCartney, Carolina Herrera, Sonia Rykiel, Caroline Charles and Anouska Hempel all sketch wearing Cartier watches.
Rock stars Kylie Minogue, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart fancy Panthere and Tank Francaise models.
Actors Robin Williams and Tom Selleck wear Pasha models; while former 007, Timothy Dalton, sticks to the timeless elegance of Cartier’s Santos.
THE ROLEX RANGERS
Opera divas Cecilia Bartoli and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sing the praises of their gold and diamond Rolex Oyster Datejusts; and Placido Domingo conducts and sings wearing his Oyster Day-Date gold watch. Jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, rock guitarist Eric Clapton, and legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma always wear Oyster Datejusts on stage.
Tennis dymano Andy Roddick serves wearing his Rolex; top golfers Seve Ballesteros, Justin Rose and Jack Nicklaus are devoted Rolex wearers. Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Chris Bonnington never go exploring without wearing a Rolex. Film stars Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Michael Caine read scripts and get to the set on time while wearing Rolex.
Power brokers who prefer the weight of a Rolex include Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.
THE EBEL ELITE
Yummy model mummy Claudia Schiffer adores Ebel’s Classic Wave and Beluga Tonneau models and Harrison Ford favours Ebel’s Chronogarph Sportwave model. Film stars Melanie Griffiths, Glenn Close and Isabelle Adjani wear the Beluga; as does tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
I gather from an old friend of Elvis Presley’s that the late rock n’ roller’s most treasured watch was his custom-made Ebel – a little 18ct gold number, fitted with 26 perfect diamonds, and engrossed with his name. The watch is worth about £100,000. All enquiries to Graceland, please.
THE TAG HEUER CIRCUIT
Spanish beauty Ines Sastre models, acts and plays golf wearing TAG Heuer’s new Link Diamonds model; racing driver Mika Hakkinen, and racing fans Paul Newman, Matthew Broderick and Antonio Banderas wear TAG Heuer’s Monaco Automatic Chronograph watch.
Actor Colin Farrell goes for the Kirium Formula 1 watch; Tiger Wood takes to the green wearing his Link Automatic Chronograph; Ian Coulter and Nick Doughtery also tee off wearing TAG Heuer; and stunning Maria Sharapova shines on the tennis courts wearing TAG Heurer’s 2000 Exclusive diamond model.
Uma Thurman adores her Link Diamond style; while Brad Pitt, Monica Seles and Kirstin Scott Thomas’s go for the Alter Ego.
THE OMEGA FACTOR
Pierce Brosnan played James Bond wearing Omega’s Seamaster 300m Professional Diver watch; Michael Schumacher races wearing his Speedmaster Automatic, and golfers Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia tee off wearing the De Ville or Speedmaster Automatic Omega.
Oscar winning actress Nicole Kidman’s choice is Omega; supermodels Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson show up for photo calls wearing Constellation styles; and tennis beauty Anna Kourniova always looks a winner playing and partying, in her diamond Constellation Omega.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Jack Nicholson, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey sport Philip Stein Telstar watches, that claim to help protect the body against possible negative effects of electronic pollution.
Tennis ace Boris Becker and designer darling Tom Ford are fans of IWC watches; Sophia Loren adores wearing Bvlgari; Prince Charles, Michael Douglas and Nicholas Cage prefer the elegance of Patek Philippe’s Calatrava, as does King Juan Carlos of Spain, who switches to Patek Philippe to Corum’s Admiral’s Cup watch when he goes sailing.
High flyer John Travolta pilots his own plane sporting a Breitling’s Navitimer chronograph; football star Michael Owen wears Tissot; ex Prime Minister John Major and rock legend Tina Turner share a passion for Rado watches; and Paloma Picasso breakfast’s wearing watches from Tiffany.
Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai looks staggeringly beautiful wearing Longines DolceVita; popsicle Victoria Beckham and her hubby David go for the blingest of bling watches from Franck Muller and Theo Fennell. Mega-watt Puff Daddy, mega-rich British footballers’ wives, and mega-flash rappers are also keen on Muller’s large faced ‘Conquistador King’ and ‘Long Island ‘glam strap watches. Sir Elton John wears a day watch by Franck Muller, then switches to a glam evening Chopard.
In London, Bond Street babes and Sloane Street sweeties change watches all the time. Bedat’s No. 3 diamond and stainless-steel jazzy number, Gucci’s Ladies G Retangle diamond and stainless steel beauty, Chanel’s stunning ‘Camelia’ model, and Theo Fennel’s ‘Pelham Anglo’ and ‘Galet Duo Time’ timepieces flash from their glam wrists day and night, as the darlings shop, eat and drink at London’s consumer temples of luxuries.
Back home I met a cynical American, who had also been a guest on the Prince’s yacht.
“Did you play The Watch Game?” I asked. “Yes,” she said. “Isn’t it a marvellous piece of market research!”
I looked in astonishment. “What market research?”
“Oh, didn’t you know, sweetie? The Prince has a chain of luxury watch and jewellery shops. That lucky dip gives him an international picture of what people are buying.”
I don’t believe her. I believe the Prince. Watches really are beautiful.