Luxury Watch & Cars: Wearing An MB&F HM3 In Monterey At the Car Shows
So I travel to Monterey this year with one of the world's most exotic watches - priced as much as many brand new luxury cars. Though not quite up to the cost of a rare vintage European sports car at auction around town that weekend, the watch should be an impressive sighting for those "in the know." With millions of dollars exchanged each day of the event in car auction sales, the demographic of people who attend the events is comprised of the wealthier elite. These people are often watch lovers as well. So in cooperation with MB&F, I see how their Horological Machine Number 3 (HM3) "Sidewinder" watch (which I wrote in more detail about here) adds to my, and the experience of others during the show.
At Pebble Beach, the attention you get is often linked to what you are doing, and who you are with. Myself, toting a backpack and camera was likely taken as a photographically inclined car fan (which I am), or a member of the media (which I also am). Thus, people didn't look carefully at my wrist expecting to see something special. Among the ranks of collectors with their rare cars, it felt good having a rare watch - a bit like I was part of the "in crowd." Perhaps this crowd is something you can buy in to, but your status there is all about what you bring to the party - and I had something interesting. An avant garde Italian sports car from the 70's equivalent in watch form.
As I walk among Rolex watch owners (the majority of the people there), I realize that the HM3 on my wrist is perhaps a bit to wild for this audience. You can usually tell this by the fact that most men are wearing a white hat, blue sport coat (with gold buttons), and beige pants. The MB&F gets a lot of stares, while the bold point it out. All of the other watch journalists know (and approve) of it - garnering a great deal of respect from those who talk watches all day.
Monterey in mid August is where most rare cars don't seem rare. Ferraris are a dime a dozen, and you have to dig deep for the truly unique. I thought I was pretty safe in feeling that I was going to be the only MB&F watch wearer in the area. I was wrong. There was another, and he was also wearing a HM3 model - what a coincidence. Though this guy wasn't going to settle with the fact that most people simply didn't know the pedigree of the timepiece he was sporting. Engaging people checking out a Bugatti Veyron, he proceeds to show off his rare Swiss timepiece. Is this the typical MB&F owner? I don't think so. Rather, I believe he was in the "showing off" mood, and wanted to make sure at least a few other people noticed his less than common investment. Unlike a car, a watch is easy to walk by without noticing - unless you are looking for it. An MB&F watch is the type of luxury you need to go out of your way to discover and garner an appreciation for - like a fine wine. If you have one and aren't around fellow watch lovers, it is easy to get frustrated and utter "do you KNOW what that is!," as people stare quizzically at your timepiece.
The HM3 made a solid companion and despite its unique way of telling the time, proved legible after you get the hang of it. The linear system of hour and minute indicator does have its benefits. What I loved the most was the quality and art of the watch. Any close inspection of the HM3 (along with other MB&F watch) reveals a lovely attention to detail and high level of finishing. The case is in 18k white gold, with a titanium belly. While the partially revealed movement has a view of the smooth spinning polished 22k rose gold battle axe style automatic rotor. Just a quick look makes you pretty sure it is expensive - in fact this model retails for $77,000.
I still think that the HM3, and perhaps other MB&F watches are to wild for the conservative car crowd in Monterey. Though people who knew of, and spotted the watch were delighted. I've never met anyone who dislikes MB&F after learning what they are all about, but getting to the point of being educated can be a challenge given the degree of complexity involved in fine watch connoisseurship. At the same time, it is a real thrill to run into someone while wearing the HM3 that knows what it is, and the ensuring mark of approval that comes in the form of a smile, thumbs up, or "I really like that" remark.
Would the HM3 have been a bigger star of the show if I was standing next to a winning Delage car? Probably. I am perhaps not up to the level of where I am good enough for a watch like the HM3 - at least to Quail Lodge Motorsports show attendees (tickets to that, just to enter and see cars, is about $400 a pop). Internally, it felt like a perfect timepiece for the event. I didn't need anyone to notice it to have it elevate my mood. An item of pure passion and beauty, it mixed in perfectly with the type of place where they have kiosks that sell Martinis, and driving a really old car is pretty cool.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch reviews site aBlogtoRead.com.