Watch Men: Kristian Haagen
They say a man’s best friend is his dog, but strike up a conversation with any chap about what’s strapped to his wrist and you might well think it’s his watch. Because despite the dominance of smart gadgets and the ever-encroaching metaverse – many men still have a deep-seated, emotional attachment to the analogue watch. At Turnbull & Asser, we know the merits of a well-curated wardrobe and that behind every considered look is a prized timepiece. With that in mind, for Off the Cuff’s horology series, Watch Men, we meet some of the most stylish movers and shakers of the watch world and find out what makes them tick.
Kristian Haagen, 48, Copenhagen, Denmark
Kristian Haagen’s fascination with horology began at an early age and has led him to pen eight books on the subject, alongside writing for Vogue Scandinavia as the title’s watch expert. He is also a respected photojournalist, auction specialist and founder of DailyWatch, a watch consultancy agency. His taste for adventure informs not only his work, enviable timepiece collection and love of Land Rovers, but his wardrobe too, which is well stocked with waxed Barbours and rugged yet refined utility wear. But as this Danish Time Lord explains to Off the Cuff, he’s equally happy in a plush velvet jacket if the occasion calls.
Turnbull: What's the story behind your time piece?
Kristian: When I was six years old, the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700 was the first watch I noticed when flipping through the ad pages of National Geographic. As I recall, it was sitting behind a sword. Once I realised there was a watch behind the sword, I just fell in love with everything in that picture and it was the dream watch ever since. But with prices increasing dramatically every year, I never imagined I would never own one. But in winter 2016, out of the blue, an elderly gentleman called me up. He started talking about his Nautilus that he wanted to sell, as he did not want to wear it while golfing. That of course makes sense; I would not do that either. But when he started talking about me being the next owner, I told him I could not afford it (I had just bought a new house). But he just said, "We haven't even discussed the price yet.". He offered me his 1976 ref. 3700 Nautilus at a well below market value. I couldn’t say no. He said he could not imagine a better person to sell the watch to, as he knew my love for it.
How did you first become interested in watches and horology?
In the mid-1970s, the first pages of National Geographic always featured watch brands – Rolex, Omega, Seiko and the like. And of course, it’s how I first came to know the Patek Nautilus. I soon realised that many of these watches sat on the wrists of the mountaineers, divers and explorers featured in the articles, making a watch part of the uniform of the modern hero, so to speak. That sort of thing makes an impact on a young boy and it really fuelled my interest in horology and adventure, which is still going strong today.
Does your watch influence your outfit in any way?
I only really think about my attire matching the watch when we shoot pictures in the studio for our social media channels. Otherwise, I don't really consider what I’m wearing. I also make sure I wear all my watches – none are safe queens. I can't afford to leave them sitting in the vault. And not a single piece was bought as an investment – I’ve always bought a watch for its beauty and provenance. However, a watch like my ref. 3700 Patek Philippe looks good with any shirt – as it’s dressy as well as sporty. It works equally well with rolled-up sleeves or with complementing cufflinks for a more elegant look.
What would be your advice to the modern man about harmonising a watch with your wardrobe?
Some people claim you cannot wear a wristwatch with a tuxedo, but I couldn’t care less. I mean, take the Turnbull & Asser tuxedo jacket in green velvet. It deserves to be paired with a cool watch, like my ref. 3700 Nautilus. Most importantly, I think it’s important to wear what you feel comfortable in. If a 47 mm Panerai makes you feel good at a black tie event, then go for it. If a vintage 33 mm Patek Philippe dress watch makes you happy while roller skating, then that’s the watch for you to wear. But today I’m wearing the Fenston overshirt, which has that intrepid safari vibe and easy cut, which suits me to a tee. It also perfectly matches the dial colour of my Nautilus and looks great behind the steering wheel of my old Land Rover Series 2A. Versatile timepieces are always a worthy investment. I also often wear a 1968 Rolex GMT-master for this reason. It’s great looking, comfortable to wear and has a perfectly proportioned 40 mm case. Everything about this watch hits the sweet spot and it works with anything you wear.
If you want to be a bit more serious about it though, you need at least one watch you can wear with a tuxedo, one with a suit and one you can wear to the beach. If you’ve got those three in your collection, then you’re covered.
Is there a particular watch you’re coveting at the moment?
I have been looking for a Rolex Double Red Sea-Dweller with a perfect tropical dial for a few years. It’s right at the top of my hunting card. But if it was a new watch, it would have to be a Cartier Tank Asymétrique. I recently tried it on in the Copenhagen Cartier boutique and was surprised how much I liked it on. I was surprised because on paper, it doesn’t look like it sits well on the wrist and wasn’t immediately pleasing to the eye with its offbeat design. But all that changes completely once it’s on your wrist.
Cartier Tank Asymétrique, extra-large, platinum, grey leather strap, £28,000, cartier.com
Kristian wears the Turnbull & Asser Fenston Wool Overshirt.
Edited by Shane C. Kurup
Photography and styling by Dan Choppen