The enigmatic, alluring actress Greta Garbo was a Swedish import to Hollywood who survived the transition from silent movies to talkies only to retire at the height of her fame in 1941. Lured by Louis B Meyer with a contract at MGM in 1925, Garbo was cast as a mysterious, European femme fatale a full five years before her rival Marlene Dietrich arrived in Hollywood. It was Garbo and her paramour, the Sapphic poet, novelist and screenwriter Mercedes de Acosta who popularised masculine slacks, brogues and tailored jackets before Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Carole Lombard.
Christie’s Watch Department has assembled an incredible selection for their latest sale in New York this week (21 June 2017). Featuring a stellar line up of rare and special watches, the sale also features a section entitled ‘American Icons’. I’ve been through the catalogue and have selected some of my personal favourites from the beautifully presented (and handy sized!) catalogue. So here they are — Povey’s Picks…
The collars were expansive, the trouser hems vast, the sideburns dangerous near naked flames: but men’s watches, in the early 70s, veered very much towards the diminutive. In Italy, a trend even kicked off amongst metropolitan dandies for wearing watches aimed at women. Precious metals, meanwhile, were comme il faut amongst gents who wished to make any kind of statement in the vicinity of their carpel bones.
“When you come to see a picture of mine, I want you to know that I’m not going to do anything that will make you uncomfortable. I want you to know that you won’t be disappointed in me.” So said John “Duke” Wayne (1907-1979), star of 142 patriotic 20th-century “War and Western” Hollywood movies. Only Clark Gable beat Wayne at the box office. His languid, low, testosterone-fuelled drawl, rolling gait and weather-beaten face as chiselled as Mount Rushmore made Wayne America’s most iconic hero of the Wild West.
Among the names that stimulate upper-echelon watch collectors to a degree best described as “feverish”, few excite like “George Daniels”. Arguably the greatest watchmaker of the 20th century, inventor of the co-axial escapement and one of the key chroniclers of the works of Breguet, Daniels produced precious few watches himself, one of which is the star of Sotheby’s 6 July sale in London.