Los Angeles native Stacy Perman, the author of “In-N-Out Burger,” a New York Times bestseller, has just published her third book, “A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World’s Most Legendary Watch” (Atria Books).
Her narrative concerns the competition between two extremely rich men, Henry Graves Jr. and James Ward Packard, who were surreptitiously vying to see who could create the world’s most extraordinary watch, a contest that lasted from 1900 to 1928. Packard was a largely self-made man who had commercialized the incandescent light bulb and manufactured the first luxury cars in the U.S., making his fortune from his myriad inventions, while Graves, a financier, was the scion of an established New York family with a vast fortune that came from railways, coal and banking.
The book’s title is derived from the term of art “complications,” which, in watches, means anything beyond the general timekeeping functions of marking the seconds, minutes and hours. Among them are perpetual calendars and maps that enable celestial navigation — the latter are considered, in watch-collecting circles, to be “supercomplications.” The star of the book, which appears on its cover, is the watch known as the Graves Supercomplication, shown at left, which has 24 complications and took Patek Philippe almost eight years to create. In a 2009 Sotheby’s auction, it brought $11 million from an anonymous buyer, later revealed to be Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thani of Qatar.
To research the book, Perman combed libraries and archives in the U.S. and Switzerland and attended auctions for watches. One particular pleasure, she notes, was to bring to life the two main characters in her book. “Henry Graves was a big mystery,” she says. “He kept a very, very low profile.” She writes of him, “Henry was confident, discreet and pathologically private. He grew up a bon vivant, entitled and cloistered, with the ability to differentiate friends from sycophants, keeping his circle tight.” A trustee of a Byzantine family trust outlined in the will of his father, Henry Graves Sr., Graves Jr., graduated from Yale, then became a bank vice president.
By contrast, while Packard was the son of a successful Warren, Ohio, entrepreneur, he was a mechanical genius whose remarkable practical gifts were evident very early on. One of Ward Packard’s many automobile innovations was the H-slot gearshift for cars, and, over the years, Packard cars debuted the steering wheel, double windshield wipers and air-conditioning in passenger vehicles. Packard, an engineer, contributed ideas and details to the designs of the watches he commissioned from Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
Part of Perman’s original interest in this story had to do with the fact that, after the Great Recession began in December 2007, extremely luxurious mechanical watches, manufactured before World War II, didn’t just hold their value, but increased in price at auction. With their intricate workings, and the far-above-estimate prices they have been fetching, these pieces “remain difficult for most people to attain,” she says.
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)
@denimdaysfestival, which initially launched in Amsterdam in 2014 and has since expanded to New York, is heading to Nashville for the very first time. The two-day festival, which will take place in November, will feature brand activations, hands-on workshops by artisans and denim mills, a vintage market, live entertainment, and local food and drinks. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Later this month, the popular “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibit will be reopening. @historicroyalpalaces, the charity that manages @kensingtonroyal, has been working towards adding new, never-before-seen garments to the exhibit, including this dress created by Gianni Versace for a fund-raising dinner at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The exhibit will reopen on April 26 at Kensington Palace @wwdfashion
“Our family has always been engaged and interested in the world around us. [My brothers and I] were always encouraged to have our own opinion at a young age, which is not always something a child is asked — especially to have an opinion with reasoning behind it,” said @yarashahidi on becoming an activist. We caught up with the 18 year old last week, where she talked about her road to acting, how “Black-ish” led her to start conversations about identity and more. Head to WWD.com to read what she had to say #wwdeye (📷: @chelsealaurenla)