Watch Men: Justin Hast
They say a man’s best friend is his dog, but strike up a conversation with any chap about what’s strapped to his wrist and you might well think it’s his watch. Because despite the dominance of digital smart gadgets and the ever-encroaching metaverse – many men still have a deep-seated, emotional attachment to the analogue watch. At Turnbull & Asser, we know the merits of a well-curated wardrobe and that behind every considered look is the perfect timepiece. With that in mind, for Off the Cuff’s horology series, Watch Men, we meet some of the most stylish movers and shakers of the watch world to find out what makes them tick.
Justin Hast, 33, London, United Kingdom
Justin Hast’s childhood zeal for watches has led to a multifaceted career as a watch photographer, writer and consultant that sees his expertise sought by the likes of Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Andersen Genève and MR PORTER. Hast is also the editor of The Watch Annual, a tome celebrating the year’s most significant timepieces. Here, he explains to Off the Cuff the personal significance that can come with a timepiece and why you should always take off your fake BABY-G before hitting the pool.
Turnbull: What’s the story behind your timepiece?
Justin: This was my grandfather's 1968 Omega Constellation Day-Date until I received it for my 21st birthday. Having not met my grandfather – or any of my grandparents – it is the most important thing I have. In fact, it’s the only object I have from any of them. My grandfather was a modest man by all accounts – a one-watch guy – and he wore this one all of his life. When it was passed on to me, it originally had a gold Milanese aftermarket bracelet and I took it back to the Omega boutique in London where they serviced it and replaced the bracelet with this calf-leather strap, which has this beautiful brown cross-hatching. The watch itself is actually one of the lesser-known designs of the great Gerald Genta, who was also responsible for the Audemars Royal Oak and Patek Nautilus among others.
How did you first become interested in watches and horology?
To quote Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”. And as cliché as it sounds, I do think that there was something within me that was predetermined to work with watches, because as a young child, whenever I used to go on holiday, the first thing I'd want to do is go to the local market and buy a knock-off adidas or Nike watch – and I would absolutely treasure it, until I jumped in the pool and destroyed it two days in. I remember I did the same thing with a BABY-G given to me from a great Japanese friend of mine called Sho Shikata – and I cherished it until I jumped into a swimming pool and destroyed it. I don't think it was genuine, either. Later on, in my twenties, I remember my uncle wearing an IWC Portugieser and just thinking it was the most beautiful, elegant thing I'd ever seen – and it really captured my imagination of how a watch could be a representation of your character.
Does the watch you wear influence your style in any way?
I like dings and I like scratches on watches because they tell the story of the owner and I love my clothing to do the same. I like things that be repaired – for me, that is the true definition of luxury. So I follow that same ideal with my watches, clothing and shoes. I also like function and comfort. As a result, I often wear workwear-style pieces, which I layer up. I won’t just wear a T-shirt, for example. I’ll wear a flannel shirt or a long-sleeve polo neck or polo shirt and then add a jumper and chore jacket over the top, or in the winter, an oversized raglan jacket. With this casual canvas, a watch like my Constellation can act as a little sign of design that pops under the cuff. I’m wearing the Phillips shirt today as it ticks many of the above boxes. The sand-washed silk is butter soft and breathable but feels relaxed and the revere collar is a feature that always makes me look twice when I see one in the wild. And while my wife would dispute this, I'm not on holiday year round – but this sort of shirt makes me feel as though I am.
What would be your advice to the modern man about how they should harmonise their timepiece with their attire?
When pairing watches with my clothing, I adhere to the same approach as I do when buying watches: what does the heart say? Watches aren’t a necessity, so if the watch you pick up makes your heart beat faster, you know you've got the right watch, whatever you’re wearing. That said, summer tends to have me wearing my vintage Tudor subs on NATO straps – for comfort more than anything – and come winter, I love nothing more than a fisherman’s roll neck jumper with a wax jacket contrasted with a more delicate watch, like my Lange 1. I like the unexpected in style. The obvious choice with rugged outdoor hiking gear would be a tool watch – but I appreciate the romantic image of an English gent doing things in the woods or on a farm wearing a fine pair of shoes and a great watch. Ultimately though, I’d say go with your heart and don’t overthink it.
Is there a particular timepiece you’re coveting at the moment?
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tadao Ando edition – the first model. It’s 40mm in bead-blasted aluminium with an ultra-thin calibre and micro-rotor movement. It has dial where there's no name, just emanating circles from the sub-seconds dial at seven o'clock and is this amazing link to the creator. In watchmaking, we see a lot of partnerships that don't tend to feel right. This one absolutely does – Ando is one of the great architects of all time and his concept is ultra simplicity in singular materials. I also love the way that it has a Japanese garden effectively in these emanating rings on the dial – it gives you this incredible expression of time in a very interesting way. The case is like Renaissance architecture, it's got layers and depth and angles and it breaks the mould of what sports watches in a very modern, elegant, Italian fashion. It’s like nothing else and is a future classic in my opinion.
Bulgari Tadao Ando limited edition, bead-blasted aluminium £POR, bulgari.com
Justin wears the Turnbull & Asser silk holiday fit Phillips shirt
Edited by Shane C. Kurup
Photography and Styling by Dan Choppen