Cigars and watches have been sold side-by-side since the 1930s. In this three-part series, we explore the connection and interplay between two manly pursuits: collecting watches and lighting up cigars. To read Part I, click here.
Another notable tobacconist, Davidoff of Geneva — which these days stays far closer to its roots as one of the world’s preeminent cigar makers than does Alfred Dunhill — in 1985 launched a capsule collection of gold and titanium wristwatches featuring Jaeger-LeCoultre calibers that were stylistically evocative of very early Hublots and IWCs.
Edward Sahakian, owner of Davidoff London, recalls that the late Dr. Ernst Schneider, who in 1970 acquired both the Davidoff of Geneva boutique and the Davidoff cigar brand from Zino Davidoff. “He had one of those watches and used to wear it all the time,” Sahakian says. “His was a gold watch with a black leather strap.”
Schneider (and his father-in-law, who owned the Max Oettinger Co., now known as Oettinger-Davidoff) purchased Davidoff for the tidy sum of $1 million (roughly $6.25 million today). “Many people said I was crazy to pay such a price for one shop only, but I had an idea in my head,” Schneider later told Cigar Aficionado. “I said we would internationalize the Davidoff business because the base was created, and I had developed a special concept.” He would go on to turn Oettinger-Davidoff into a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise.
Since 2005, Zino Davidoff, a spinoff luxury watch-and-accessories brand created to skirt draconian European Union regulations governing tobacco promotion, has presented new house-designed timepiece collections at Baselworld. As of 2008 there were three Davidoff watch collections; today there are two, each with roughly a half-dozen models.
Along the way, there were of course many other cigar-inspired and collaboration timepieces. Among the highlights: a limited-edition tobacco-brown Hermès Cape Cod 1928 that came in its own humidor to commemorate the opening of the still-extant Hermès boutique on Wall Street; a Blancpain Quantième Perpétuel GMT with a tobacco-hue dial; and a Bell & Ross 126 XL Edición Limitada. (Both the Blancpain and the Bell & Ross came in a humidor as well.) Even Swatch made a cigar watch with an actual cigar running from one end of the strap through the dial to the other end.
Carlos “Ross” Rosillo, Bell & Ross’s co-founder and a dedicated cigar lover, muses on the two indulgences’ symbiosis. “The connection between watchmaking and cigar rolling is the passion for creating luxury, taking the time to appreciate what craftsmen have built,” he says. “The object can be related to the beauty and culture of what man can create. Each industry creates products that require a timely assembly, with a result that allows one to appreciate the craft and enjoy life to the fullest.”
More recently, the intertwined strands of watchmaking and cigar rolling have been woven together by the ongoing collaboration between Hublot and Arturo Fuente, the premium cigar maker from the Dominican Republic, which produces the highly coveted limited-production Fuente OpusX cigar. That partnership has yielded two limited-edition timepieces: the King Power Arturo Fuente and the Classic Fusion Arturo Fuente ForbiddenX. The latter features actual tobacco leaves on the dial and was even offered as a tourbillon. “The collaboration is unique; we’ve worked together to push boundaries,” says Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. “The challenge was to use the tobacco leaves [which need to stay humid] as the watch dial [which must remain dry].
“The first two [Hublot x Fuente limited] editions,” he continues, “were developed around one dedicated range of cigar” — OpusX for the King Power and ForbiddenX for the Classic Fusion. “If Arturo Fuente were to develop a third collection, we could consider having a third-edition watch.” Will the Don Carlos range of cigars, perhaps do?
Why do these watches and these cigars pair so well? “They go together because they have the same clientele,” Guadalupe says. “Cigar aficionados are most likely high-end watch lovers, as they can enjoyed the handmade craftsmanship behind both — the result of the loving care of experts in their domain.”