Photos — Maurice Haas Date — 1 April, 2010
He has promised himself that whatever happens in the future he will not be selling this watch
He remembers the day as if it were yesterday rather than two years ago. It was Monday, 15 September and he had flown back into London on an old Le Rosey friend’s jet from a party in Ibiza. He recalls, with, it has to be said, a shiver of embarrassment, how he was cross that the flight back had been forced into a holding pattern, as always, over London and he had missed the chance to bid in the Damien Hirst sale at Sotheby’s.
In retrospect of course he regards it as an immense stroke of luck, as of course 15 September was the day on which Lehman fell and his world went into freefall. Until then Diving Watch Man had been doing rather well with a smart office in Mayfair, a fast Italian car in the garage below and succession of equally fast women passing through the duplex apartment above.
He had been a sort of fixer/concierge for Eastern European oligarchs and bonus-bloated bankers: brokering real estate deals; jumping the waiting lists for certain desirable models of cars, jets and watches; renting the best villas and chalets; snapping up the best wines and getting on the best VIP lists. Back then he had high-class problems, like finding a 70-metre yacht for a client who was no longer happy with a mere 60 metres … that sort of thing.
In his way he was an artist, one of the best, doing what he loved best and doing it rather well … namely spending his summers jetting, yachting and partying his way around the Mediterranean, starting with the Cannes Film Festival in May and finishing up with the closing parties in Ibiza in September. And after a bit of pheasant shooting in England and a lot of aprés-ski in St Moritz it was time to start all over again.
And then the music stopped.
Abruptly the air bridge of private planes between Moscow and London stopped. His clients asked him to sell the cars/jets/watches/apartments/yachts that he had bought for them only months before and beneath his rich golden tan he felt as pale as his lavatory-bowl-white teeth.
The fast women were the first things he had to let go, or rather they went of their own accord when they found out that he did not have money … he still remembers the fight he had with a Ukrainian model when he told her that they would not be going to Mustique for Christmas. Next to go was the Italian sports car. Within six months he had moved out of the rented office and duplex, into a smaller apartment. Of course Netjets®* were replaced by Easyjet®*.
But what really hurt was the day he consigned his collection of watches to Christie’s. Watches had been a big part of who he was and how he saw himself. Then suddenly all he was left with was a fading tan mark on his left wrist. He doesn’t mind admitting that this was the lowest point of a cataclysmic year. However he soldiered on, “structuring deals”, “meeting with investors”, generally doing his best to keep his world turning. And his persistence paid off, just before Christmas he found a buyer for an eight-figure apartment; and in the new year his mobile, which had been silent for months, started to ring again. It was not like old times, but at least people were prepared to spend money again.
This year you will see him again at all the very best places around the Mediterranean. Of course he would not dream of venturing out around his favourite haunts around the Mediterranean without a proper wristwatch. In fact you could almost say it was a legitimate business expense, at least that is what Diving Watch Man told himself when after “structuring” a particularly lucrative deal, he walked into the IWC store in Geneva and bought himself an Aquatimer Chronograph in rose gold.
He didn’t bother to take the box, he just put it on his wrist as soon as he was shown it and it has not been off since. This watch might have been made with him in mind: rugged and handsome it will be glinting on his tanned arm from May until September, from the Cote d’Azur to the Costa Smeralda. This is the watch that shows he has survived the crash and that he is back. What is more this time, he has promised himself that whatever happens in the future he will not be selling this watch.
*These trademarks are not owned by IWC Schaffhausen.
Nicholas Foulkes is an author, historian and journalist. Over the last 15 years his writing has appeared in most of Britain’s national newspapers at one time or another. He is a columnist on Country Life and the Luxury editor of GQ. His most recent book, Gentlemen and Blackguards – Gambling Mania and the Plot to Steal the Derby of 1844, is published by Orion Publishing Group