01 TEE TIME
Of all the apps available to Connected Modular 45 owners, we find the Hole19 golf app particularly handy, given its range-finding, Gps-distancing and digital scorecard capabilities. And it looks a lot more chic on the fairway than resorting to your smartphone. Again. TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 from £1950
a stylishly engineered ‘swap-out’ system, meaning the Connected smart module ( Android Wear-interfaced, but with bespoke Intel innards) pops out of the case and a mechanical watch module clicks in for cocktail hour. A bit like a horological Transformer, then.
Meanwhile, Montblanc’s own take on this tech-luxe idea, the Summit, was unveiled earlier this spring. Despite gliding in below the £ 1000 mark, it’s styled even more deliberately in the classical fashion. In fact, from Michael Kors to Armani, and even entry-level US brand Fossil, the smartwatch has become “smarter” in the elegant sense – a move that, ironically, could end up forcing Apple to readdress the Watch’s utilitarian design.
“I’d say that smartwatches have earned their place in the luxury watch market, though it’s still a fairly small place,” says Mark Toulson, head buyer at Watches of Switzerland. “I don’t think Patek Philippe will ever produce one, for instance. Personally, I think that smartwatches still come into their own in the area of fitness or wellness. Monitoring your sleep, the number of steps you’ve taken or your heart rate are all useful functions, but trying to read a text on something as small as a watch seems like a waste of time to me.”
Despite Toulson’s scepticism, it’s worth noting that the Connected remains TAG’S biggest seller. So, whether as an accomplished all-rounder or simply as a complementary model to the more traditional, mechanical pieces in your collection, the luxury smartwatch is here to stay. These are the cleverest of the bunch, along with our recommendations of the best apps for each.
MH: You’re about to down tools and head outside. Tell us more. I was originally planning to walk across Britain at its narrowest point. The official distance is 84 miles, starting in South Shields and roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, but we’ve just changed the plans to something closer to home. Instead, we’ll be doing the Capital Ring Walk, right around London in 24 hours. It’s about 78 miles. MH: This is not your archetypal fashion designer activity. What was the thinking behind it? CR: The idea was threefold, really. First, I wanted to do something with my friends for my birthday that wouldn’t just be a party. I also wanted to raise money for Cancer Research because my father passed away when I was 18. The third thing comes back to my teenage years, when I was part of the Air Training Corps. We would do various walks and training exercises, and I’m convinced this gave me a sense of discipline that has helped me through my adult and creative life. It’s also very good fun, of course. MH: Is this the first time you’ve taken on a physical challenge like this? CR: No. I took on my first challenge around my 30th birthday, coming up to five years ago. We started things relatively simply by doing the Three Peaks Challenge, where you climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours. Since then we’ve done another one called the Welsh 3000, which is the highest 15 mountains in Wales in 24 hours, and most recently we travelled from London to Brighton on foot, with no real route planned. I have to say the Welsh 3000 is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s definitely the closest I’ve been to coming a cropper. MH: Care to elaborate? CR: Well, my friend Lee broke his ankle on the way down, so we had to have him airlifted out. We’d been doing all the right things but this setback meant we lost a lot of the day. Consequently, we ended up at the top of the highest and most dangerous peak at exactly the wrong time. Fog came in, which meant going a little off track, which in turn led to some fairly serious climbing – all of which you don’t really want to be doing at 2am. MH: Where do you think this need to explore the nation comes from? CR: I grew up in the countryside – it was four miles to the nearest shop – so you had to make your own fun. I spent my childhood doing this sort of thing on a smaller scale. It’s a case of realising there are so many places on this island that most Brits haven’t been to, despite being able to get to them within six or so hours. That’s why I think it’s important to do this in the UK, in a short timeframe. MH: Your collections often draw on stories of adventure. Do your own trips inspire them? CR: While we’re always careful to say that the garments we make at CR aren’t ‘high performance’ per se, it’s good to bridge the gap between adventure and fashion. Having come from the Air Cadets and always being active, I enjoy bringing that into the clothes. The latest collection was influenced by the story of Polish soldier Sławomir Rawicz. During the ’40s he escaped from a Siberian gulag and walked 4000 miles to India via the Gobi desert and Himalayas. It’s those extreme elements that fascinate me. MH: So, do figures like that influence your personal ambitions, as well as your collections? CR: Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to compare myself to him! But I find the fact that you can go from the comfort of your car to a very raw state in as little as 45 minutes really interesting. We spend the vast majority of our lives in a relatively comfortable state. The more you test yourself, the more it shows in your creative output. MH: Do you do much training in preparation? CR: It’s just an unfortunate reality that I don’t get as much time as I’d like for training, but for this one I’ll have to. It makes a big difference to your chances and it means you enjoy it more. More important, though, is to be prepared for any likelihood. When Lee was airlifted out, we were praised for having been well equipped to deal with the situation. MH: What do you think will be the hardest part of this challenge? CR: Normally it comes down to proper planning and pacing. Then there’s the inevitability of getting older and knowing you aren’t as fit as you were at 21. But I find there’s an excitement that comes with these things. That said, it’s very easy to overlook the importance of planning your route out as well. Once we’d finally finished the Welsh 3000 and found ourselves at the top of one of the highest peaks, the exhilaration faded somewhat when we realised it was still another five miles back to the car. That was a new challenge in itself.