How French King Louis XVIII Changed What You Wear

| June 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

Louis XVIII had an interesting life. He was the King of France during the time Napoleon wanted to be its emperor, which meant he spent time in palaces and time in exile too. He died a pretty disgusting death; obesity, gout and gangrene no less. But he had one habit which still influences us today.

Louis XVIII liked horse-racing

Much like the Queen of England and the Windsor family, Louis liked horse racing and was an avid racegoer.

He liked to watch his own horses and of course he needed to be able to measure their times. He asked the “watchmaker to the king” to create something to help, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Enter the Chronograph

man adjusting watch

A chronograph is a watch with a timer added and is incredibly popular. But why? Today you can strap something on your wrist that can track your pulse and heart rate, it can show you when the phone is ringing, or it can vibrate when an email arrives and it can remind you to stand up and move about once an hour if you really want it to.

At the end of the day, it can tell how many steps you took, and get this, you could leave your phone at home but link your watch and still get the alerts. (Call us crazy, but aren’t you leaving your phone at home so you don’t get alerts?)

Nowadays there are so many other ways in which we can find out what the time is that we really don’t need a watch anymore. Yet the watch has not gone the way of the dodo. As a Chronoexpert can tell you, about 1.2 billion watches are sold every year and show no possibility of slowing down.

With all of this available, why would anyone want a chronograph?

Have you ever wondered what your wristwatch has to say about you? It is a subtle yet definite barometer of the inner man. It speaks to your sense of style and about what you think is important. It suggests your outlook and the pace at which you live life.

Watches are more than a timepiece. They are an article of expression. Not sure how? Think of the watch a rapper might wear. This is the watch as bling. A diamond encrusted watch is going to cost you, but what does it say about you?

Telling the time is almost not the point

Think back to the scene in Doctor Strange when he opens the drawer and chooses his watch. He is dressed in evening wear, and for the record, that is one nicely cut DJ. His tie is not a clip on (real men can tie a bow tie) and the shirt is bespoke.

The final piece of the outfit is his watch. He then takes a drive which changes his life forever. Throughout the movie, we return to the watch as a representation of his moral barometer. At the very end, he wraps the beautiful but flawed watch onto his wrist as a reminder. It is there to remind him to stay in touch with reality and understand the difference between right and wrong.

Another famous watch aficionado

Not surprisingly, James Bond has never been faithful to one type of watch, flipping effortlessly between preferred brands according to the film and the Bond too. But each watch (with the possible exceptions of the digital ones) reflects Bond’s suave sophistication. He might be a killer, but it’s unavoidable in his fight against the bad guy.

His watches are often chronographs, sometimes with a little extra functionality added in for good measure, but the basic is the chronograph.

Why is a chronograph so popular?

It’s just a watch with a stopwatch, so why all the fuss? Actually, that is kind of the point.

(Sidebar – in watch speak anything added to a watch beyond the basic time-telling function is known as a complication. Having a date window is a complication.)

The chronograph remains an uncomplicated watch, but it does usually have two modules; the time telling one and the stopwatch. It seems to be the myriad of ways and number of options in the way these two can be combined that appeals to gentlemen.

The two modules give the watch a rugged feel about it. It has to be on the chunky side to get them both in. There is a nice satisfying weight about it, you know you’re wearing it.

It suggests you’re a man of action

black watch on display

Just having a stopwatch means you’re a man of action. You’re not going down to the stud to check out your racehorses, but you are doing something requiring split-second timing and accuracy. Exactly, it’s your Bond tough guy mixed with your Dr. Strange good guy side coming together.

A gentleman loves a thing of beauty

A chronograph is a thing of beauty. Let’s face it, gentlemen get to wear elegant things. They get to wear refined things. They get to show their sophistication in fine brandy or whisky. But they never get to be beautiful and that, my friends, is where the chronograph comes in.

Wrapped around your wrist is something that is beautiful. Its mechanisms and timekeeping are, yes, a thing of engineering beauty. Its look is obviously gorgeous. A chronograph says you are not a nerd or a flash-bastard, you’re just being you.

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