Aliens, watches and The Lost Explorer with David de Rothschild

What do you do if you’re supposedly the devil incarnate and heir to an estimated £10 billion fortune? Create an adventure brand, as done by David de Rothschild. I recently had the chance to quiz the explorer, entrepreneur and member of the richest family of all time as he showcased his adventure-focused outerwear brand ‘The Lost Explorer’ at esteemed saddle manufacturer Brooks London’s Covent Garden store.

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So what links thoroughly modern, adventure-proof outerwear and an old-school saddle manufacturer? “Style and function”, says David. “They perform and you pay for it, but you feel comfortable paying for it because you are getting what you want from it. That’s the case with Brooks, and I hope it’s the same with The Lost Explorer.”

When it comes to cycling, David fits into the pannier-and-sightseeing brand of rider – with a bottle of his own-brand tequila lodged in a bottle cage, no doubt. “There’s something about being on a bike – finding your flow, with your mates, chatting, everything’s moving, everything’s changing on the road.I’m a bit more of an oh, I’ll go down this street, I’ll cut through here, I’ll explore more type of rider.”

It’s this active, outdoors lifestyle that has led David to take a keen interest in the current and future state of the environment. In 2010 he sailed Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran made out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and other recycled waste products, across the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution.

With the election of Trump and other right-leaning parties, does he think environmental policy is going to be put on the back burner?

“Yeah, I mean, It’s a really very poignant question. I think it comes much more around our ability to take the path of least resistance is far greater than one of struggle, right?

“We need to make the right choices, to live on a planet in a more sustainable, harmonious way with nature you need to make some really tough calls. And to do things that we are not going to feel comfortable about, myself included.

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“Humanity is Evil Knievel. We got all dressed up, went on our motorbike and hit the ramp – which was the industrial revolution – and off we flew. It’s great, look we’re in the air and now we’re at that point where we’re like shit, maybe that was too good a takeoff, maybe we’re consuming too much, maybe we aren’t actually going to hit the landing ground as we first anticipated. It’s not all smooth sailing, so the question is: are we going to break a neck or are we going to break a leg? We’re in mid-air. We’ve got to adjust.

While tough decisions need to be made in the future, no self-respecting billionaire heir would ever be seen without a watch fit for royalty – impending doom or not. Aboard Plastiki, David wore a special edition IWC Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth Edition Chronograph.

As with Brooks, it was the skill, precision and passion of the Swiss watchmaker that convinced him they were the right partner. “The thing that I really liked is the craftsmanship,” he said. “People that know IWC, they love it, they live it, they know all the different models. I guess in a way it’s a bit like that with Brooks. You’re really into it and you collect the saddles, you love the different styles and you appreciate the craftsmanship.

“I’d rather work with brands where there’s a real niche audience, that really love the brand and are really passionate, because then, when you’re doing a collaboration, like we did around Plastiki, with the watches, you’ve got someone who’s not just wearing a watch, they’re living your message.

“They know everything, every single detail. That’s a really interesting ambassador, and some of the influence behind starting my own brand. It was that thing of trying to create a sense of real value in products, but also to appeal to people who really want to dig deep into the materials and subtleties and into the craftmanship, too.

While David may be firmly aware of his impact on Earth, his position as a Rothschild has ensured that whatever he does, he’s subject to some interesting (intergalactic) scrutiny. One of the wilder theories circulating online is that he’s actually the second coming, or an alien force. There’s an entire community dedicated to unearthing his hidden reasons for being – so, if he really is an otherworldly being, I had to ask where he’d travel in his spaceship.

“I would just go to the bottom of our ocean,” he said. “Live underneath there. There’s a nice conspiracy. I’d become a Merman. I think our oceans are incredible and under-explored – we know so little about them.”

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Make time for these 5 watches from Baselworld 2017

It’s that time of year again. When anyone who’s anyone in the world of watches heads to northwest Switzerland to launch, laud and lust over the latest timepieces at Baselworld. From Swiss classics to a future-focused South Korean throwback, I’ve taken a look at five of the most interesting items from 2017’s event.  See it all below…

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Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph

They couldn’t have planned it better. While Sebastian Vettel clinched victory for Ferrari down in Melbourne, Hublot unveiled its simply stunning Techframe Ferrari Tourbillon Chronograph, with the case being the first non-car item to ever come out of Maranello. The near-skeleton design is a technical marvel; the eyes are naturally drawn to an impressive manual-wound caliber HUB6311, a monopusher chronograph with a tourbillon escapement. Another nice touch, (well, for $127,000 (titanium) or $158,000 (gold)) is the crown at 4 o’clock, positioned to create a feeling of speed. Forza Ferrari, indeed.

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Omega 60th Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Edition

It’s been 60 years since one of the most recognisable pieces of wristwear first hit the market. I’m of course talking about the iconic Omega Speedmaster. To commemorate this milestone, the Biel-Bienne-based manufacturer has released an ode to the original ’57 model, complete with a 38mm case, straight lugs, etched tachymeter and a faux-tropicalised dial (to up the nostalgic feel). It costs $6,740 and is limited to a run of 3,557, mirroring the release structure of the recent Seamaster and Railmaster – you can even buy all three for $20,185.

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Nomos Club Campus

Now, I’m a BIG fan of this new line from Nomos (though it does scream fixie bike and Vice fanatic). The German brand’s new Club Campus collection, “tailor-made for the next generation”, is made up of three watches: a 36mm, 38 and 38.5mm, and an additional 38.5mm called the Club Campus Nacht. The latter is the standout item, with Arabic and Roman numerals for even hours, ticks for odd and a simple subdial at 6 o’clock to indicate seconds. The 43-hour power reserve from Nomos Calibre Alpha is great value for money, too. They start at a very reasonable $1,500 – ideal if you’re making your first foray into mechanical watches.

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Samsung Gear G3 Pocketwatch

Concept. That’s the key word. The cynic in me thinks this is just a whole lot of peacocking from Samsung and watch designer Yvan Arpa. Nonetheless, the Samsung Gear S3 Pocketwatch (yep, pocketwatch) has piqued the interest of the watch world and beyond. Initially, the idea was to replace the mechanical movement with G3 tech, but the electronics giant went not one, but two steps further by having traditional innards and a compass (yep, compass) in the lid. Though these aren’t going to hit the market anytime soon, or ever, it’s certainly one of the most interesting fusions of classic watchmaking and futuristic designs on show at Baselworld.

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IWC Schaffhausen Ingenieur 40mm Automatic

I love it. It’s clean, classic and is the revamped version of a racing-inspired icon from the ’50s. I have to confess, I’m getting one in September. Prices start at a shade under $5k for the three-part collection.

If you’d like to read more, head here.