London’s tailors and their watches

We ask the men who make the finest suits in the capital what watches they reach for to keep them on time and looking sharp

The world of fine tailoring is (almost) as old as time itself. With some of the names on Savile Row dating back to the early 1800s, counting kings to Chaplin to Churchill amongst their former clientele, you can see why history and heritage is so important to them.

Not only that – what is just as important to cutters and tailors is timing. When you’re in the business of bespoke creation, juggling all manner of clients who don’t want to be kept waiting, being punctual is key. So we asked some of the best tailors in town what timepiece they wear to help keep things ticking along…

David Taub — Head Cutter, Gieves & Hawkes

London’s tailors and their watches

Founded in 1771 and holding at least one Royal Warrant since 1809, Gieves & Hawkes set up shop at No. 1 Savile Row in December 1912. They’re a stalwart of British style and their Head Cutter, David Taub, is the man pushing and personifying this style today.

His go-to watch is a 1960s Tudor Ranger Prince Oysterdate. “I researched for some time,” he admits. “I wanted to buy an everyday watch that would stop me wanting to search for others. My Grandfather had a Tudor, so I had that in my memory, but also the fact you get the style of the Rolex at a cheaper price point made it a no-brainer. To me, the pared-down design also seems more sophisticated.”

Evidently a watch fan, he also has a small collection of vintage watches. Fortunately, his working life keeps him in good company. “I’ve seen some very beautiful watches on customers,” he tells us, “a great many of which tend to be vintage looking. I suppose this goes well with the type of person that would choose to commission clothing from a tailor.”

Juan Carlos — Head Tailor, Oliver Brown

London’s tailors and their watches

While Oliver Brown might not be on The Row, the Chelsea outfitters’ impressive 39-year history has seen them become the only trader inside the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot. Head Tailor Juan Carlos is a third generation master tailor and in charge of all things bespoke.

His timepiece of choice is a late 1960s Omega Seamaster Deville in stainless steel, inherited from his father five years ago. “I love vintage watches and, when he heard that I was going to buy one, he gave me his first watch.”

He’s a believer in ensuring your bespoke suit can show off your fine Swiss watch perfectly. “Bespoke suits require accessories on an equal level of craftsmanship,” says Carlos. “Many of our customers have extensive watch collections, so sometimes we need to cut sleeves a bit shorter on the watch arm, just so they can show off their favourite timepieces.”

Luke Sweeney — Co-Founder, Thom Sweeney

London’s tailors and their watches

In 2006, Luke Sweeney and Thom Whiddett joined forces (and names) to create one of the most exciting young tailors in London. Aside from starting this fresh new brand, Sweeney is also a bit of a watch guy. “I have three watches: a Rolex Day/Date, a Rolex Explorer 2 (Steve McQueen orange hand) and a Rolex Submariner red writing mark IV – all from the 1970s.”

With such a great trio of vintage timepieces to choose from, how does Sweeney decide which to wear every day? Naturally, it comes down to timing. “I wear the Day/Date the most as it goes best with formal tailoring. A birthday gift from my wife, it has a brown leather strap and I tend to wear brown shoes every day. For more casual tailoring, I wear the Sub or Explorer.”

Simon Kirby — Group Creative Director, Chester Barrie

London’s tailors and their watches

Chester Barrie have been one of the mainstays of Savile Row since their founding in 1935. While they pioneered the ready-to-wear movement, their bespoke offering is truly spectacular and loved by so many around the world. We spoke with the Group Creative Director, Simon Kirby, about his watches.

“I have a couple of late-sixties vintage watches that I wear occasionally and some Simon Carter retro-styled ones, but I wear my Dunhill watch most of the time, as it goes with everything.

“If I’m wearing a shirt with a bolder colour or a retro short sleeve, I might wear one of my sixties watches. I have also been known to put on a sixties watch when driving my classic Jaguar.” If we had a collection of sixties watches and a classic Jag, we would probably do the same.

James Sleater — Managing Director, Cad & The Dandy

London’s tailors and their watches

Quickly becoming one of the biggest tailors on The Row, Cad & The Dandy are a very young and modern brand. We spoke with James Sleater, co-founder and Managing Director, about the watches that make up his collection.

“I have around eight or nine. I keep meaning to buy a proper watch box so I can rotate them more and see them better.” So without a watch box in sight, what is he wearing most often? “I have a few watches from a British brand called Farer and my favourite is called the Lander,” Sleater tells us. “Their watches blend old age elegance with a hint of adventure.”

If anyone were to know how to match a watch to a suit, it is the evidently sartorial Sleater. “I think it shows care if everything about an outfit works without looking contrived, which is something that must be avoided. The watch and strap itself are a good way of dressing an outfit up or down, so it’s nice to be able to play around with the watches in my collection as my mood suits.”

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Further Reading