It took me until my thirties to understand the aficionado’s zeal for watches, an expensive accessory ultimately serving a humble function fulfilled just as easily by a cell phone or wall clock. But the more I build my wardrobe, the more I appreciate beautiful timepieces—portable art carried on the wrist; objects of exquisite craftsmanship worthy of pause and contemplation. Like a sharp pair of shoes, a handsome watch holds the subtle power to instantly elevate your look, broadcasting pizazz and fashion savvy. Over the last few years, I’ve collected watches for a range of occasions: an elegant Cartier for the rare black-tie soiree; a Shinola Runwell for the office and everyday life; and, recently, a jaunty timepiece from Kiel Patrick James for trips to the beach.
Linked by a shared passion for sailing, Keil Patrick James, a quintessentially preppy New England clothier, and Mount Gay, the world’s oldest rum distillery, have teamed up to create a timepiece embodying the sunny joie de vivre of the tropics. With a bold red and gold striped fabric wristband (Mount Gay’s signature colors), a 14k gold-rimmed face, and luxurious detailing on the dial, this watch is a worthy splurge at $198. Here’s a timepiece that the late, great Jimmy Buffet might have sported on his yacht, adrift somewhere in the Antilles with a cigar, margarita, and blazing Caribbean sunset.
Details and Specs
At 40mm, the face is slightly larger than my day-to-day Shinola Runwell, but still small enough to flatter most wrist sizes. The watch’s piece-de-resistance is the intricately detailed dial that’s adorned with bright-colored semaphores at the 3, 6, 9, and 12, and golden minute and hour hands shaped like an arrow and anchor. A geographical outline of Barbados, the superlatively gorgeous island home to Mount Gay’s flagship distillery, adds a dash of panache to the solid white background. Eminently eye-popping in the sunlight and another splendid touch is the 14k gold casing. Even the underside of the dial boasts delightful detailing of Mount Gay’s insignia.
For those who prefer something other than a fabric band, the watch also comes with a subtle brown leather wristband. The glass is smudge-resistant sapphire crystal, but it’s rather thin, so treat this watch delicately. Wear it to the restaurant or the cocktail party, but stash it away for the hike or beach volleyball match. The watch is moderately water-resistant, and rain shouldn’t be a concern, but you’d be wise to take it off before a swim. When the time comes to change the battery, visit a jeweler, as the back must be pressure-sealed to maintain water resistance.
What I like about this watch
This is a flashy addition, and the gold trim and bold hues attract glances and compliments galore. The sartorial equivalent of a flamboyant tropical confection, this watch is wearable eye candy. The splash of color goes particularly well with white shirts, like a tennis shirt or linen guayabera. Whether it’s that silk Hawaiian shirt, impish fedora, or colorful aviators, it’s fun to keep a few one-off accessories designated solely for vacation.
What could be better?
While I am happy with this purchase, I would make a couple of minor tweaks. The glass, as mentioned, is delicate, and the face is liable to crack with even small bumps. The fabric wristband could be more adjustable, as excess fabric protrudes when I buckle the watch. I usually loop the excess length back into the buckle, but I would prefer to be able to shorten the band. If you go with the leather strap, this petty gripe is moot.
Worth the price?
A dash of Caribbean sunshine to your wardrobe, the Kiel James Patrick – Mount Gay watch is an accessory exuding joy and zest for life. Especially considering the gold casing and fine detailing, it’s a good deal for under $200. Is it a vanity piece? You betcha. But does it look fly as hell with a button-down or a Nantucket-red polo? Damn right. This might not be the ideal timepiece to wear to, say, a job interview, funeral, or trial court, but for a jaunt down to the Caribbean or an afternoon pleasure cruise, this cheerful accessory is icing on the cake.
Lead photo credit: Mount Gay