Revolution is a quarterly publication about luxury mechanical watches. First published in 2005, it is now one of the leading magazines in its sector, with a readership that consists of both watch connoisseurs and industry insiders, from designers to chief executive officers. The magazine blends watch reviews and articles with cutting-edge styling and photography. We caught up with editor-in-chief Tracey Llewellyn to find out what makes her tick (pun intended).
When did your fascination with watches begin and how did it develop?Like most things in my life, watches are something I stumbled across. I originally intended to be an engineer and it was only after completing my MSc and starting to work in the field that I realised it wasn’t for me. With a need to pay the rent, I started working in the publishing industry, eventually moving into editorial and only then seeing that it was what I really wanted to do. In the past 20 years, I have covered many different subjects, from architecture to women’s lifestyle, fashion and travel. About 10 years ago, I found myself wanting to move jobs. Through industry events, I knew the publisher of QP magazine and heard that he was looking for a deputy editor, so I applied for the role and got it. To be honest, I thought I would only stay for a few months but as soon as I started to learn more about the world of watches I was hooked and now I can’t imagine doing anything else – it also represented a happy return to my original training and qualifications, so maybe I didn’t totally waste those five years!
Which watches are on your Christmas list?
Well sadly it will have to be an imaginary Christmas list! My dream watch is actually as much a piece of jewellery as it is a timepiece – a 1960s Bulgari Serpenti in gold with gemstones and enamelling. These pieces are steeped in history, incredibly rare and highly sought after so my gift-giver will need deep pockets. They were powered by Vacheron Constantin, Piaget or Jaeger-LeCoultre calibres and co-branded on the dials – but to make life easier, I won’t specify a movement maker. From this year I would love the Singer Reimagined Track1, created by founder of Singer Vehicle Design Rob Dickinson, former Panerai designer Marco Borraccino and watchmaker extraordinaire Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The watch is a completely new take on the chronograph and combines practicality with ultimate coolness. If I was being more frugal I would look at something like the new Omega Speedmaster 38mm Cappuccino or the stunning Rado Captain Cook reissue.
What watch brands do you most admire and why?
Perhaps, controversially, I am not a huge of material developments in watch movements. Whereas I admire anyone who wants to push boundaries, I can’t help but think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it –stainless steel, nickel, brass and gold have been used as watch components for 400 years and these pieces are still being fixed and restored today. So, unsurprisingly, the brands I most admire are the ones that, while developing in line with the age, are the ones that still have respect for the past.
Rolex recently proved that it wears the crown for a reason when Paul Newman’s actual Paul Newman Daytona was sold at auction for a record-breaking $17.8 million and its sister brand Tudor has gone stratospheric in the past three years. I have already mentioned Bulgari, which has been producing world-class watches in terms of design and mechanics for the past five years – although its watchmaking history actually goes back decades before that. Models such as Lucea and, of course, Octo are true hero pieces, plus there are technical limited-editions and one-offs, and stunning jewellery timepieces. And then there is Omega, which has been a leader in watch production for decades and in the past three years has recognised the importance of storytelling and its heritage, translating this pride into the most covetable watches.
What is your most treasured horological possession?
I love things that money can’t buy so I’d have to pick things such as my copy of George Daniels’ book Watchmaking, with a personal dedication from George, as well as the notes that he wrote to me. I didn’t know George for long but from our very first meeting I adored him. One of George’s best friends also became a good friend of mine and gave me the most beautiful gold Breguet key, which I wear on a chain as a pendant.
In terms of watches, one of my best friends gave me a 1950s Tudor Oyster when I started in the watch industry. It was the beginning of a love affair with the brand and I now own four of them (with imminent plans for a fifth) but that original model will always be the special one. And more recently I visited the workshops of the amazing watchmaking power couple Craig and Rebecca Struthers. Among their drawers of treasures was a tiny clip watch covered in red shagreen. I loved it and when I was leaving, Craig and Rebecca gave the watch to me. I rarely wear it – I’m too afraid of losing it – but it sits on my dressing table and I see it every day.
What do you enjoy most about being editor-in-chief at Revolution?
Everything! It is seriously hard work but I can’t imagine doing anything else or working in any other industry. Revolution has given me the chance to show what I can do in terms of putting a magazine together and has taught me more than any other job I have done. I get to work with fabulous, talented people, travel the world to attend the most intriguing events and spend every day talking about, and looking at, watches. What’s not to like?
Is there an industry secret you can let us in on?
I did think of one great secret to tell you but I got cold feet when I thought about the people involved knowing that I’d told…
Where are your favourite places to shop in London?
I hate shopping with a passion – life is just too short. The exceptions to this are watches and jewellery and, unfortunately, most of that is just window shopping. I am lucky to know a lot of the people in the Bond Street stores so they don’t mind when I loiter and drool over brands such as Graff, Moussaieff, Piaget, Cartier, Chopard and Van Cleef. But I also love visiting second-hand stores including Grays Antique Market, and all of London’s amazing auction houses.
What do you like most about the city?
London has changed so much in the past 20 years and today it is more like New York, in that it is a city that never sleeps. Whatever you want to do, see or eat, no matter what time, you can find it – and, most importantly, get it delivered.
Who, in your opinion, is the most esteemed watch collector of all time?
Watch collectors often like to stay below the radar. Of course, there is the famous rivalry between the American industrialists Packard and Graves and there are celebrities such as Eric Clapton whose pieces achieve super-high prices at auction thanks to their famous owners. In Revolution, we have featured the collections of Bernhard Bulang, Eric Ku and Claude Sfeir, and these would be incredibly hard to beat. Head of LVMH Watches Jean-Claude Biver has told me about some of the pieces in his collection and it sounds phenomenal. There is also the Patek Philippe museum collection, belonging to the Stern family, and the truly stunning Aladdin’s cave that belongs to Marcus Margulies.
What advice would you give to first-time watch buyers?
It is not rocket science but the number one rule is never to try and buy for investment. The watch market is a fickle one but if you only buy what you genuinely love then you won’t be disappointed. There are no right and wrong answers. My second piece of advice would be to read the article on protecting a watch in the September 2017 issue of Revolution. Written by detectives from New Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad, it is packed with useful tips that will ensure your timepiece is as safe as possible and will be returned to you if the worst happens.