Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille

Roberto Mancini's Richard Mille in stadium

NEWS FLASH! Richard Mille named a watch after a guy! The eponymous guy wears the watch! Okay, that’s not really news. It’s been done before (RM 27-02 for Rafael Nadal). What’s new: GQ’s claiming Squadra Azzurra football manager Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille is the secret to his unmistakably Italian style. ORLY? Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille RM 11-04 automatic flyback chronograph is a secret? Stylish? Unmistakably Italian? Where have I heard that before? . . .

Gianni Agnelli watch over cuff

The late Gianni Agnelli was famous for wearing his watch over his shirt cuff. It was a weird thing thing done by a celebrity known for his style – “The Rake of the Riviera” – copied by thousands of Fiat Chairman wannabes. A couple oddballs continue to mimic this odd horological flex. In fact . . .

shirt cuff for watch

There are novelty shirt cuffs for wankers looking to make a really bad statement about themselves.

Less provocatively, expert style makers suggest a “watch allowance.” No, it’s not about trying to limit the financial damage caused by your horological addiction. Here’s the fashion forward skinny from propercloth.com:

Watch allowance

Selecting a watch allowance allows you to make the left or right cuff .25″, .5″ or .75″ larger than the other cuff so that it can slide over your watch comfortably. You’ll want to specify the watch allowance for the wrist that will have the watch (obviously).

Selecting between .25″, .5″ and .75″ will depend on the size of your watch, and how tight you’re making the cuffs in general. If you’re keeping the cuffs fairly loose you may not need a watch allowance at all. We generally find that .25″ is enough extra space for slim, dressy watches, but if you have a dive watch or otherwise particularly large watch you might need the .5″ to .75″ difference.

Roberto Mancini's Richard Mille close up

Useful information – for people who operate under the assumption that horological discretion is the better part of not looking like a pretentious prat, and buy custom tailored shirts. Anyway, that’s not how Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille rolls.

Look carefully and you’ll notice that Mancini wears the watch slung low on his wrist. Like all stylish Italians, he would have made sure that the strap was sized just so, in order that the watch is always clearly visible below his shirt cuff.

Roberto Mancini's Richard Mille RM 11-04 automatic flyback chronograph

Readers, you wear watches. “Slung low” means too loose, uncomfortable, sloppy. Furthermore, let’s not pretend that “the strap was sized just so” when the Mille in question has all the bespoke customization of the buckled resin strap on my Casio F-91W. You pick a hole and put the prong through it. Nobody came and took a tape measure to Roberto’s wrist and custom-molded a new blue rubber band. That’s just silly.

By the same token, I’m pretty sure Mssr. Mille’s jumbo beast – a 9mm thick movement – simply won’t fit under Snr. Mancini’s shirt cuff. Any shirt cuff? Plus RM wants that bad boy on display. Why do you think they gave it to the famous soccer coach? Or do they pay him to wear it? Best guess: both.

Roberto Mancini's Richard Mille off the cuff

You’ve all heard of sprezzatura, the Italian art of stylish dishevelment in matters sartorial. Now get ready to wrap your lips (and minds) around the idea of staccare, which means to “detach” or “remove”.

It refers to the deliberate pairing of classical elements with something ultramodern and is most commonly associated with architecture. But it’s also an important approach in fashion. Take, for instance, the pairing of a finely tailored suit with a cutting-edge sports watch. That’s staccare. And, right now, the king of that aesthetic is the manager of the Italian national team, Roberto Mancini.

I take umbrage with Alfred Tong’s pronouncement. Properly deployed, the term sprezzatura means making things look effortless, regardless of the actual difficulty or effort expended. Simple principle: don’t look like a try-hard.

sprezzatura?

Clothing nerds took this good sense and perverted it. The proper spirit would lead to avoiding meticulously orchestrated ensembles and generally being a foppish popinjay. Anyone who’s watched these “tastemakers” in action knows that wasn’t going to happen.

Mr. Tong’s tribe decided sprezzatura means an affected faux inattentiveness layered onto dandyism (illustrated above by oebens.com). It’s much like Hollywood constructing a pretend messy room: gently lay some clean laundry around and tape up a crooked poster. My, what a mess! Clothing-wise, it’s fashion sans frontiers . . .

 

Magnanni Jaden Water Resistant Monk Shoe

Cuff and collar buttons studiously left undone, narrow ends of neckties left too long and/or showing alongside the front blade. Stupidest of all: wearing double monk strap shoes, nicknamed dubmunx, (wait, I’m not done yet) with at least one of the fruity little buckles unfastened. The loose strap end flopping around, like those damned NATO straps.

But I digress. GQ wants us to know about staccare. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s staccare! Oops, that’s amore. Staccare means “to detach or remove.” The Quarterly defines it as “the deliberate pairing of classical elements with something ultramodern and is most commonly associated with architecture.” So like I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid, I guess. I hate it already!

Danny Pizzigoni

But wait, how come a web search using keywords staccare and architecture gives this as a top hit: From Piguet To Panerai, The Influence Of Italian Taste On Watch Design. I’m getting a sense this is all so much marketing BS. Indeed, the term is floated by Mr. Daniele Pizzagoni (above), founder of London vintage watch dealer The Watch Club.

The proposed ethos: wear one jarringly modern (i.e., tacky) item that totally clashes with an otherwise tasteful and traditional outfit. No, not a pair of Air Yeezy‘s! They’re selling watches here. Which is just as well; you only get one “off” item (unless you’re a double wrister). Otherwise, the tackiness becomes overkill.

Is this aesthetic really unique or Italian? I seem to remember a famous American who wore a synthetic sports watch with his suit. He was doing this over two decades ago. His name was William Jefferson Clinton, and he was the President of the U.S. of A. The watch was a Timex Ironman.

But the GQ is using former boxer Ray ‘Boom Boom pro soccer player and current team manager Roberto Mancini as the example. He’s a lean athletic man with a full head of hair who keeps his cigars in a humidor. Let’s not pretend that the overpriced Dickie Mille plastic watch is making his style. He’s a famous dude that is allowed an eccentricity. You’re probably not. Which gets us to the heart of the problem with this article.

Roberto Mancini's Richard Mille head on

Besides the fact that RM always looks awful and that celebrities are paid to wear them and do not pay to wear them. The big lie: you, you at home, you regular schlubs reading GQ, get to break tradition and wear one cornball item. Like when George Costanza wore Timberland boots to a wedding. Sheeplike wannabes love this myth: when you’re so-damn-good you can be transgressive!

It’s not an entirely invalid precept. If you’re a suit on the sidelines of an international athletic competition, you deserve some leeway. You can wear funny sneakers, or a ballcap, or a stopwatch around your neck. Or even Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille. Outside the stadium, the suitability disappears. Know what I mean?

8 comments

  1. I love RM.

    RM is the best. The best troll of those who found some money and really, and I mean really-really-really need you know about it.

    The more pink, or neon, or pastel, the bigger, the dumber looking, the more noticeable, and of course, the better.

    Commas abound.

    And hilarity abounds, too. Think shmarmy ex-cons like the Anthony Timepiece Monkey dude. Super tight girl shirts, and what watch? Of course, the most shoutey RM possible. He just loooooves it. The imagined validation, the fellow preeners, they are collectively trolled and they’re happier for it.

    First-name-comma-last-name watch brands with squared of cases, seems I remember others of those. With that moment of peak troll, followed by the inevitable collective moving on to the next shiny trinket.

    At least it takes some of the Insta wanking off Rolex. Works for me.

    1. RIchard Mille is unparalleled for being a joke that everyone thinks they are in on, and the odd part is everybody may be right, or at least not wrong.

  2. In Clinton’s case, the understatement works, because the watch is cheap. It is a variation on the preppy “Timex on a ribbon strap” trick, with bonus points for the “I’m just like a middle manager who just doesn’t care about fashion” schtick.

    Robert Redford clearly didn’t care about the cuff clearance rule, but since I’m no Robert Redford, I observe it. But even with the “Redford” exception, it isn’t just about cuff clearance. In “All the President’s Men”, the crown guard of his Rolex is getting snagged on the shirt cuff because he wears it on his right hand. In “Three
    Days of the Condor”, Redford wears a Doxa Sharkhunter on a bund strap, so it’s less about cuff clearance and more about really loving that watch.

    1. I was going to make an aside about the habit of male American politicians tending to aim for very unassuming workaday appearances, but some concession to concision was needed. The notion of even a state governor needing a watch, when an army of aides watches the clock for you, is a bit disingenuous, but the no-nonsense signaling can’t be denied.

      The thing that I really hate is when a man will pose for a photo, a normal photo where the watch is not the focus, and conscientiously raise sleeves and position the wrist just so, because that watch must be highlighted!

      1. That Timex Ironman was a really slick move. A minimalist, analogue Timex on a ribbon or leather strap can “look expensive and fancy” but there is absolutely no doubt that a digital watch on a rubber strap is the “frugal” and “practical” choice.

  3. One side effect of the smart watch revolution is that people are used to seeing hideous little iBlackHoles on each other. Often with FUN! aftermarket straps.

    Also I feel as though Apple/FitBit/Samsung/Garmin ubiquity coupled with the sartorial parking brake applied by 18 months’ quasi house arrest have effectively ended whatever fashion rules remained, for suits and watches alike.

    So: A challenge for a lifestyle mag for which the foundation rests on building up and testing down said rules. Note that GQ’s definition of staccare implies that the reader would already have cause to wear a tailored suit and thus have need a staccare element.

    Still wearing Pandemic Casual? You don’t have a tailored suit OR the goofy-ass designer watch to ruin the effect? Turn the page for the latest!

    Real world. Your Garmin probably pairs fine with your hoodie in the eyes of your grocery check-out clerk.

    1. I’m a sucker for cheap and cheery color, so I look fondly on bright silicone smartwatch bands. Like badly customized cars, they at least show some interest in the thing, and expression beyond standard issue conformity.

      It was already hard to be a fashion magazine, as trends were already glacial and derivative. The old “…with a twist!” trope has been the template forever. I think I scrapped the bit about how the
      product placement and shilling of these magazines was transparently obvious even to my oblivious and impressionable teen self.

      The message here is not to sell the watch to the reader but to sell the hype such that the monied fools considering an RM are assured that their purchase will be properly recognized by the common people.

Leave a Reply