They Wear It Well: Londoners

Four resident Londoners share their stories, and discuss their top wristwatch choices.

Edward Sexton

Bespoke tailor

“After beginning my apprenticeship in London’s East End, I started on Savile Row at Kilgour & French. A few years later, I joined a company in Burlington Arcade called Donaldson, Williams & Ward and it was here that I met a young chap called Tommy Nutter, one of my co-workers.

One evening Tommy and I went for a beer. He told me some people that wanted to invest in a new tailoring company had approached him. Tommy had good ideas on style himself and we were able to combine our respective tastes to make a great look, something that really worked. On 14 February 1969, we started Nutters of Savile Row.

We were the first new company on the Row for over 100 years and, even though we were doing these highly stylised garments, we stayed true to the street – the handwork, the beautiful detailing and so on. Nutters was also the first on the Row to have an open window display. Traditionally Savile Row was a very dowdy street with heavy oak doors and curtains across the windows, but we built bizarre and eye-catching sets to display our clothes – things like dustbins with rats crawling out. People would see our window and die of shock, but it made them look at our clothing. Gradually, Savile Row started to change and take on a new lease of life. Tommy and I parted company in 1976 and I began working under my own name, moving to my current Beauchamp Place premises in 1990.

I’ve had some tremendously interesting clients over the years and, like a lot of things in my life, it all just happened. The Beatles wore our clothes on the album cover of Abbey Road, Mick and Bianca Jagger wore our suits at their wedding and, more recently, people like Harry Styles have come to see me after looking at old pictures of the clothes we made.

In how I dress, I’m very nonchalant – I’d say there’s a touch of English eccentricity about me. I don’t take clothing too seriously. I wear a lot of shirts and ties and do favour either a tab or a pin collar. It’s not practical to wear a tight collar all the time though, so for daytime I’ll normally be in a roll-neck sweater with perhaps flannel trousers, a waistcoat and a sports coat.

My Corum was a gift from a client about 50 years ago now, a man called John Valentine. It means a huge amount to me, he just took it off his wrist during a fitting and said: ‘Here, that’s a present for you.’ I also have an antique Cartier watch. Sir Anthony Blunt’s batman came in for a cashmere overcoat one day but couldn’t quite afford it, so he offered me the Cartier as well.”

Sameer Lilani

Director of UK, Middle East and Europe for Amrapali

“I studied engineering at King’s College but, after three years, I realised it wasn’t for me and I dropped out. After some coaxing from my father, I started studying gemology at GIA’s London campus and realised it was my calling.

The girl who sat next to me on the course was from Cartier in Paris. She’d been sent by the brand because it needed more gemologists and she suggested I apply for a job with Cartier in London. I thought: ‘Why not?’ I applied and was accepted and started as a gemologist in London. I later attended Richemont’s Creative Academy in Milan to study for a Masters and from there I became a Creative Manager at Cartier, subsequently working in marketing and moving to Paris and New York before eventually coming back to London.

I left Cartier in 2010. I really enjoyed my time there but it was time for something new. A good friend from my time at GIA was the son of a jeweller who owned a company called Amrapali. He and I decided to start our own brand and do something completely new, so we registered a company and started prototyping. When his father found out about it, he summoned us to Jaipur, called us idiots and asked why we wanted to start from fresh when there was a brand that had been going for 30-odd years, with a London office that had no real direction. We came to an agreement that I would take over Amrapali London with creative freedom to position it in the way that I wanted. I haven’t looked back since.

When it comes to what clothes I choose to wear I’ll either dress very formally or very casually. I like traditional English style and tailoring, and go to the likes of Oscar Udeshi for this. Or, alternatively, contemporary designers like Dries van Noten, Loewe and Rick Owens.

I’d say it’s difficult for a man to wear a huge amount of jewellery and that a watch is his main personal signifier – what is worn, how it’s worn and how it’s personalised with interesting straps and so on. I have a few Cartiers from my time there – a Tank Basculante, a Pasha 42mm, and a more classic Tank – as well as an IWC GST and a Bamford Patek Philippe Aquanaut.

My Aquanaut was actually a gift. We recently did a jewellery show in Doha and the sheik that hosted us kindly gave it to me. It’s really awakened my passion for Patek and I’m currently on the waiting list for a steel ref. 5712 and, as the World Time has no Indian cities on the dial, I have put in a special request for a World Time to include Jaipur.”

Shaun Gordon

Menswear Designer at Turnbull & Asser

“I’ve always had an interest in how gentlemen of the 1950s and 1960s dressed – the likes of Clark Gable, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr – but I never dressed like that myself. I was a denim freak until one day I chose to wear a shirt and tie and found people treated me differently. I liked it. From there I got more and more into sartorial elegance, reading up on tailoring and searching vintage hotspots like Portobello for clothes that fit the bill.

To this day I still wear a lot of vintage clothing, alongside items from places such as Hackett, Richard James, Paul Smith and, of course, Turnbull & Asser. Fit and dressing to my body is very important to me, I had my first bespoke suit made by Steve Bell in Notting Hill and this really opened my eyes to bespoke and made-to-measure tailoring.

I’m like a kid in a candy shop with my job at Turnbull & Asser. I’ve been here for almost four years now and it’s the perfect place for me. After finishing a degree in Menswear Design at London College of Fashion, I worked for a few cowboys before going on to Henri Lloyd and Timberland, as well as setting up my own tie-making business on the side before joining T&A.

My day-to-day job is pretty varied. I work towards a brief given by Creative Director Dean Gomilsek-Cole and in any one week I might be designing pocket squares or blazers, putting together mood-boards, doing research into our archives or into materials – the list goes on. It’s a lot of fun.

I’d say my interest in watches is an extension of my interest in classic menswear and how I choose to dress. On a more practical level, I don’t like checking my phone for the time. Looking at a watch has been a matter of habit for me since I was a boy. I remember it started with the first watch I had, a Casio my mum bought me to ensure I’d be home on time – and if I wasn’t there were consequences.

For about two years now I’ve worn a 1953 Omega Seamaster as I love its clean design and it suits my small wrist. I’ve had a few vintage watches before – an old Avia and an interesting Russian watch with a 24-hour dial, amongst others – but they all broke down. I thought it was time to make more of an investment and spend some money on a watch. I’m looking at old Cartier Tanks at the moment, too. I really like the rectangular shape and I have a thing for Roman numerals. I’ve also toyed with wearing a pocket watch, but ironically the pocket watches I like would sadly leave me out of pocket.”

Wendy Meakin

Watch and Art Advisor

“I was born and raised in San Francisco, where my grandfather owned and ran a pellet mill that he took over from his father, my great-grandfather. I remember he would take me to his factory when I was a kid and one day he took off his watch – a Universal Genève chronograph – handed it to me, and showed me how to use it to time one of his factory’s machines. It really astounded me as a child, this amazing little instrument to measure time.

My first serious watch was a Rolex Bubbleback I bought when I was doing my Masters degree at SOAS University of London. I subsequently sold it, made some money, and have been trading up with my watches ever since. I’ve had a couple of great watches over the years – some I really regret selling – including a few pre-Vendôme Panerais, an early Richard Mille tourbillon, a Rolex GMT with ‘Patriot’ bezel, and a 1940s Panerai with a Rolex case and Angelus movement.

My F.P. Journe is a favourite in my current collection. It’s one of the early ones with a brass movement and I love it. The rotor is asymmetric to the edge of the case, it’s got a funky big date and all these other little quirks. There’s so much character to it. I think Journe is a genius.

Upon finishing my Masters, I worked in documentary films at a company in Camden for about a year and then started lecturing at Derby University. I went on to lecture at what is now the University of the Arts London and incorporates Central Saint Martins, London College of Communication, Camberwell and so on. I really enjoyed lecturing, it’s very performative and I was in my element. However, in 2014 I stopped and went totally freelance, consulting and working with brands. I was also involved in a TV-series called Four Rooms in my capacity as a dealer of collectable artefacts. I’m very much a gun for hire now.

I’d say my personal style is quite tailored and dandyish. I like the idea of being a flâneur, wandering around aimlessly and seeing where life takes me. Craftsmanship and supporting traditional crafts appeals to me too – I have my shirts made at Turnbull & Asser, for instance, and really like Edward Green and bespoke John Lobb shoes. I also used to buy a lot of stuff from The Library on Brompton Road and have some really beautiful leather accessories from Carol Christian Poell, some of Dries van Noten’s early clothes and several Alexander McQueen pieces from when he was still there. I also have a real passion for sunglasses and scarves.”

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