Not con­tent with hav­ing a suc­cess­ful act­ing ca­reer, Aldis Hodge is tak­ing his pas­sion for time­pieces to the next level, by launch­ing his own watch com­pany, writes Selina Den­man

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A chat with Straight

Outta Comp­ton ac­tor­turned-watch­maker Aldis Hodge; and five fash­ion apps for men


bso­lutely. Guilty as charged,” Aldis Hodge says when I ask if a per­son’s watch is the first thing he no­tices about them.

Hodge, 32, is best known as an ac­tor, hav­ing starred in films such as Straight Outta Comp­ton, Hid­den Fig­ures, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Die Hard with a Vengeance and A Good Day to Die Hard, as well as pop­u­lar TV pro­grammes in­clud­ing Black Mir­ror, Lever­age,

Un­der­ground and Turn: Wash­ing­ton’s Spies. But the star is also an artist and avid watch-col­lec­tor, as well as a self­taught horol­o­gist.

“I came out of the womb draw­ing on ev­ery­thing; I used to draw on my mother’s white fur­ni­ture and her white walls with her red lip­stick and my pen­cils. Lit­tle did she know that would later ma­te­ri­alise into me do­ing what I do now – I’m a painter as well and a mi­crome­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer,” the ev­erquotable Hodge once said.

The first watch that Hodge ever bought for him­self, at the age of 12 or 13, was a blue steel Fos­sil with a full metal band. “It’s not the first watch I owned, which hap­pened to be a Mickey Mouse watch when I was like 5 years old, but it’s the first one I re­mem­ber get­ting for my­self,” he tells me.

His col­lec­tion has ma­tured some­what since then, and he cur­rently counts an Arnold & Son Golden Wheel and Bul­gari Daniel Roth Pa­pil­lon Voyageur as his go-tos. He is def­i­nitely not “a smart­watch guy” and has a pen­chant for pocket watches, cit­ing vin­tage pieces by Breguet, Heb­do­mas, El­gin and Ge­orge Daniels, as well as Bovet’s more mod­ern ex­am­ples, among his favourites. “Pocket watches are just so awe­somely clas­sic, yet re­fresh­ingly new at the same time. I mean, how often do you see some­one rock­ing a great pocket watch these days?” says Hodge.

His mother al­ways im­pressed upon him the im­por­tance of pre­sent­ing him­self prop­erly, with good shoes, a good suit and a good watch, and this in­struc­tion stuck. Hodge grew to ap­pre­ci­ate that the watch he wore was a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of who he was – of his cul­ture, his tastes and his aes­thetic. So what does he think his cur­rent col­lec­tion re­veals about him?

“My col­lec­tion says that I’m avant­garde. My taste is un­com­mon, rare and aes­thet­i­cally in­no­va­tive. I like to ex­pe­ri­ence art in new ways and I want to be able to share that with peo­ple. Some say I’m out­side the box. I say there was never a box to be­gin with.”

Hav­ing moved on from us­ing his mother’s walls as a can­vas, Hodge at­tended the ArtCen­ter Col­lege of De­sign in Cal­i­for­nia. At the age of 19, as part of a prod­uct study course, he “ran­domly” be­gan de­sign­ing watches. “Orig­i­nally, I wanted to be an ar­chi­tect, but wouldn’t be able to pur­sue that and my act­ing ca­reer si­mul­ta­ne­ously,” he ex­plains. “So, I chose watch­mak­ing be­cause I could teach my­self at my own pace. I fell in love with the in­tri­ca­cies of move­ments, and was quite en­am­oured with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of cre­ativ­ity in ref­er­ence to de­sign and com­po­si­tion.”

More than a decade later, Hodge (whose full name is Aldis Alexan­der Basil Hodge) is in the process of cre­at­ing his own watch com­pany, Basil Time Piece. Last month, he par­tic­i­pated in the first In­ter­na­tional Horol­ogy Fo­rum, hosted by Dubai Watch Week in part­ner­ship with Christie’s, in Lon­don. The event fea­tured a series of panel dis­cus­sions ad­dress­ing key is­sues for the watch in­dus­try. “Hon­estly, I was quite shocked and hon­oured to have been in­cluded. Es­pe­cially to join The Sooth­say­ers panel, along­side Suzanne Wong, Ham­dan Al Hu­daidi and Mo­hammed Ab­dul­magied Sed­diqi.

“Dur­ing our panel, we dis­cussed cur­rent in­ter­est in the mar­ket re­gard­ing the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion, the dig­i­tal age verses the me­chan­i­cal age, sta­bil­is­ing and main­tain­ing fu­ture in­ter­est in the me­chan­i­cal horol­ogy field, etc. I had a riv­et­ing time.

“It was as equally awe­some to share the stage with my fel­low pan­el­lists as it was to see who was in the au­di­ence. Some of the best watch­mak­ers in the world were in the room.”

Hodge’s ul­ti­mate hope is to join their ranks by “pre­sent­ing time-telling in ir­reg­u­lar ways that are palat­able and eas­ily adapt­able to the eye, but are unique in com­po­si­tion, aes­thet­i­cally and ma­te­ri­ally”, he says. “I’m build­ing up to a point with de­signs that of­fer peo­ple new ex­pe­ri­ences in time-telling – sort of like a sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I’m not sure how to de­scribe my style just yet, but the best I can do is say that I be­lieve I of­fer the tra­di­tional me­chan­i­cal foun­da­tion of Breguet or Ge­orge Daniels along with the mod­ern fab­ri­ca­tion ex­e­cu­tion of Greubel Forsey, while pro­vid­ing an in­no­va­tive horo­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion to the wearer, such as MB&F or Vian­ney Hal­ter.”

Hodge is cur­rently look­ing for fund­ing to be­gin re­search and de­vel­op­ment for Basil Time Piece’s flag­ship de­sign (ei­ther “a chronome­ter with off­set hours/min­utes with an ex­posed bal­ance” or a “jump hours in an ir­reg­u­lar case with ex­posed move­ment”). If all goes to plan, he hopes that he will be re­leas­ing his first watches by 2021.

And the most cru­cial skill he has learnt along the way? Pa­tience. “Mak­ing ‘time’ takes time,” he says.

Aldis Hodge hopes to re­lease a first col­lec­tion of watches by 2021 through his own com­pany, Basil Time Piece, and aims to cre­ate pieces that have a me­chan­i­cal heart but mod­ern fab­ri­ca­tion

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