Under The Cuff: Serge Gainsbourg

When describing how her affair with Serge Gainsbourg began (whilst filming 1969’s Slogan together), Jane Birkin abridged it as: “He took me to a club called Rasputin… Then we went to a transvestite club… [Then] he took me to the Hilton, where my virtue was saved… he collapsed in a drunken stupor and was out cold for the night.” Quite the first date.

Gainsbourg has gone on to become a folk hero in popular culture, widely regarded as one of the most influential and significant figures in contemporary music. Remembered almost as much for his antics as for his music, his life, like his first date with Birkin, was a scandalous, hedonistic circus. From his excessive alcohol consumption and smoking – after suffering his first heart attack aged 45, Gainsbourg insisted on taking two cartons of Gitanes cigarettes to the hospital (as well as a Hermés blanket, believing the hospital’s would be unsatisfactory) – to releasing an album with his then 12-year old daughter, Charlotte, called Lemon Incest, illegally burning a 500 franc note on live TV in protest of France’s high taxes and telling Whitney Houston (again on live TV) that he wanted to “fuck her”.

But we at Revolution like to remember him for his taste in watches too. Apparently favouring sporty stainless-steel chronographs, he has been photographed wearing a 6263 Rolex Daytona and an Omega Speedmaster. He was, however, most commonly seen wearing a Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute – generally wearing it on a unique platinum rally-style bracelet with a UTC module attached, made especially for him by Breitling. Interestingly, a contemporary version of this bracelet is now available as a part of Breitling’s standard catalogue: called the Air Racer it can be found in steel on particular Navitmier, Montbrillant and Transocean models.

Throughout his earlier years Gainsbourg also extensively wore a discreet round dress watch with Roman indices. Upon close inspection of image number 11 below, one can see that the watch’s crystal is badly cracked, perhaps prompting the acquisition of the chronographs he went on to wear so much. Unfortunately, so far we’ve been unable to identify the piece. Any ideas as to what it is, and we’re all ears…

Jane Birkin with Gainsbourg wearing his unidentified dress watch
Gainsbourg wearing his unidentified dress watch
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