Arthur Touchot is the Editor-in-Chief of Haute Time. In addition to writing for this publication, Touchot also discusses watches for the New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Daily Telegraph. During his career, he has had the opportunity to interview watch collectors from all over the world. He also gets the pleasure of reviewing some of the most sought after watches in the industry. A true watch enthusiast, Touchot is able to share his passion with Haute Time readers. You can keep up with Touchot’s latest pieces by following him on Twitter @ArthurTouchot and follow Haute Time at @HauteTime. Crown & Caliber had the pleasure of interviewing Touchot, where he discusses his background, favorite things from Baselworld, and the importance of the emotion behind a watch.
How and when did your fascination with watches begin?
I’ve always wanted to be a journalist, and I’ve always loved watches, but I never thought I would be writing about watches. I began my career as a war correspondent in Goma, RDC, shortly after graduating from Northwestern University. But the International New York Times gave me the opportunity to write about watches when I moved back to Paris, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My mom is definitely happy with that decision.
What was your favorite watch/watches from Baselworld this year? Did you notice any watch trends at the event that you are really excited about?
I had a lot of favorites. If Basel were a restaurant, and I a food critic, I would have gained 15 pounds from the experience. But it’s very dangerous to pick out favorites and trends at this point, and I think the brands are very aware that we tend to operate that way. So I liked that Rolex and Patek Philippe created controversy, and I liked that several brands were tackling the smartwatch market, but there was so much more to this Baselworld than that. Instead, the most important trend and I’m not sure the public is aware of it, is that brands are now presenting more and more watches under embargo to make sure we spread content throughout the year. So if you’re a niche brand, instead of presenting four or five watches at the same time as the giants, you can make sure your releases will be seen independently later in the year.
You’ve tried on and reviewed countless watches. Is there one watch that has stood out to you and that you would consider to be your favorite watch?
Of course, like many watch collectors and journalists, I have a favorite watch. But it changes almost every week. The watch industry is truly unique in how diverse it is. Despite being restricted to a few millimeters on the wrist, watchmakers have released some truly remarkable designs lately. I’ve shown watches to friends and family that need convincing they actually tell the time. I have a soft spot for these watches in particular because you’re guaranteed a good time showing them. We all need a bit of fun, and the Swiss watch industry, as surprising as it sounds, is an incredibly fun family.
What is your go-to watch for everyday wear? What do you like about it? Mechanics or style?
It used to be quite easy to pick out a solid everyday wear watch. A steel watch that could take a bruising, and go with any style, was the go to choice for decades. However, I’m not sure the category exists anymore. First of all, success dresses differently than it used to. You no longer need something that goes well with a suit and a tie. In fact, some of the biggest watch collectors I know come into watch stores in ripped jeans and a plain white t-shit. But more importantly, they come into the store to buy not one, but several watches at once. They like to alternate their watches, and brands are coming up with designs that have greater flexibility, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Just last week, I took the RM 011 Black Night to the Alps and I was surprised to find out it looked just as good on the slopes as it does in London.
What are you excited to wear next, or what timepiece is the next to add to your collection?
There’s a big auction coming up. The Geneva Watch Auction One is the first watch auction organized by Phillips and I’ve got my eye on a couple of watches in that catalog but if I say more I’m going to face a tougher fight to get them.
As the Editor-in-Chief at Haute Time, you get to talk and write about watches all day long. What is the best part of your job?
Just that. As a journalist, it’s important to understand who your readers are, and what they take away from your writing. And the best part of the job is definitely talking watches with them. There’s a certain responsibility that comes from the position too, and I’m reminded of that whenever I receive a message from someone saying they bought a watch based on one of our articles. I’m also very moved when I discover documentation of the brands throughout the 18th and 19th century, and it’s our goal now to make sure we record the current chapter in a truthful manner.
What is it about a watch that appeals to you? The history? Aesthetics? Functionality?
I’d like to think it’s a bit of all of these. But in reality, I think it all comes down to emotion. I’m lucky to be able to visit SIHH and Baselworld, and I see a lot of watches that appeal to me. But if I give myself a few weeks after these watch fairs, I remember just a few of them very well. Those are the watches I would say really had an impact. That’s often what I advise collectors to do. Go see the watches you like, and then step away for a bit. The one that’s still on the top of your head in a couple of weeks is the one you should go for.
You have interviewed some interesting people about their watches, most recently Kevin Hart. Have you conducted an interview that you would consider to be your favorite?
I’ve met some incredible people in the last couple of years. Men and women that I have been a fan of for years, from Natalie Portman to Rafael Nadal, and most recently Kevin Hart. And every time, something extraordinary happens when I sit down to talk watches with them or with any watch collector. It’s as if you’ve just discovered a long lost family member. Words such as tourbillon, balance wheel and power reserve, which most people have never heard, are like the secret handshake that connects members of the same fraternity. You feel an instant connection to someone you’ve just met based on a language that you share. And in our case, it’s the passion for watches.