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Deakin & Fran­cis cuff­links; and Vacheron Con­stantin’s Mid­dle East-ex­clu­sive watch

O f the many anec­dotes that the broth­ers Deakin like to share, the case of the lion cuff­links is an old favourite. The story goes that a young ex­ec­u­tive bought 12 pairs of the cuff­links, featuring a lion fit­ted with me­chan­ics that open and close its mouth, for his col­leagues. The men then used these as a se­cret sig­nal when they were with a po­ten­tial client, to in­di­cate whether or not they wanted in on a deal. Per­haps it is this play­ful­ness that keeps the sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion jew­ellery com­pany Deakin & Fran­cis, from Birm­ing­ham, rel­e­vant a er more than two cen­turies.

When Ben­jamin Woolfield, later joined by Charles Deakin and John Fran­cis, founded the lux­ury cuff­links com­pany in 1786, lit­tle did he know that 230 years later, cur­rent di­rec­tors James and Henry Deakin would seek de­sign in­spi­ra­tion for a pair of cuff­links from a ro­botic drone. But, as ev­i­denced by its dancing mon­key, hairy Vik­ing and funky skull pairs, here is a com­pany that’s not afraid to take creative risks, de­spite its sto­ried lin­eage.

“There are no rules when it comes to cuff­links. Sim­ply choose a pair that ex­presses who you are and makes you feel good. Cuff­links can be a sub­tle ad­di­tion to an out­fit, or an ex­trav­a­gant cen­tre piece – they can look just as good with sneak­ers as they can with a Sav­ile Row suit. They are the per­fect fin­ish­ing touch,” says Henry Deakin. He adds that cre­ativ­ity aside, pro­por­tions and per­spec­tive o en form the great­est de­sign chal­lenges, es­pe­cially if the cuff­links move. “So in terms of the fu­ture, it is es­sen­tial to us to pro­duce qual­ity pieces,” he says.

The drone cuff­links (pic­tured), from the brand’s Fun­da­men­tals col­lec­tion, are part of that nod to the fu­ture. “With the drones, we re­ally wanted to push the bound­aries. Ex­plor­ing new ma­te­ri­als, these pieces are cra ed from a mix of steel, brass and alu­minium, and each fu­tur­is­tic cuff­link fea­tures six stain­less steel spi­der-like legs. As with most ro­botic cre­ations, if you gen­tly push the cen­tral but­ton, the legs slowly move up and down. But each leg also has its own in­di­vid­ual sus­pen­sion, which guar­an­tees that the drone will al­ways be per­fectly placed on the cuff,” says Henry.

Priced at about Dh1,800, the drone cuff­links are by no means the first Deakin & Fran­cis cre­ations to make good on mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. The mag­netic owls pair, for in­stance, is made of 38 parts and when squeezed, the eyes roll and the wings li up. Like­wise the mov­ing sharks and the jaw-drop­ping, eye-pop­ping skulls. The com­pany also of­fers per­son­al­i­sa­tion ser­vices, and can en­grave cuff­links with spe­cial dates or ini­tials, or cre­ate a one-off piece based on your ex­act spec­i­fi­ca­tions. “My wife gave me a stun­ning pair of cuff­links for my birth­day, which are han­de­namelled with pic­tures of my clas­sic cars and trac­tor – they are truly spe­cial,” says Henry.

In­di­vid­ual ex­pres­sion, then, is key to the cuff­link cult. The tie may be on the brink of ex­tinc­tion, while the tra­di­tional suit is no longer re­quired of­fice wear. But, thanks to the clas­sic and creative pairs cra ed by com­pa­nies such as Deakin & Fran­cis, cuff­links – ar­guably, the only style of jew­ellery that sits firmly in the do­main of men – are here to stay.

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