By  on November 15, 2010

It took two Frenchmen, one in Biarritz and one in Los Angeles, to create a watch line with the appeal of the late Fifties-early Sixties look of “Mad Men.”

The mix of aesthetics between Alain Marhic and Jerome Mage is what gives March LA.B its unique point of view. Marhic, a former Ford model, was overseeing the watch and eyewear divisions at Quiksilver’s world headquarters in Biarritz when he met Jerome Mage, who owns a Los Angeles-based design agency. The two men couldn’t be more different — Marhic, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, is an avid water sportsman who founded two windsurfing academies in Brittany in the Nineties, while Mage, the creative director, is a dandy with a passion for vintage muscle cars and Napoleonic history. But they discovered they were both in perpetual search of a Swiss-made watch that was an antithesis to the overdecorated and overly technical timepieces in the market. Inspired by vintage Bulova, Omega and Rolex styles, Mage created a four-watch series — the AM, JM, JC and 1805 — with vintage details such as smaller faces (37 to 40ml), curved crystal bezels, vintage brushed and polished metal combinations, and clean, minimal faces. He also added rock ’n’ roll details, such as a cheetah band (in addition to the Don Draper-esque black lizard), and two limited edition styles — one inspired by the classic Shelby EXP 500 car and the other by the uniforms of the dashing hussars of the first French empire.

It’s not surprising the watches also appeal to women, although Mage hates the word “unisex.” He hopes to eventually offer an equal number of timepieces and accessories for women (first up is the 1805 pocket watch series reimagined as a necklace). The line, wholesaling from $391 to $665, was launched in September at Le Bon Marché and Colette in Paris, and will debut stateside in Los Angeles at Fred Segal and Confederacy on Nov. 19.

— Marcy Medina

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