Watchonista’s Complete Guide To Cigar-Inspired Watches, Part Two
Watchonista presents part two of our two-part series about the niche category of cigar-inspired watches.
Part one of this series on cigar-based timepieces (those inspired by hand-rolled puros and/or offered by noteworthy tobacconists) chronicled four brands: Alfred Dunhill, Cuervo y Sobrinos, Davidoff, and the recent Zenith x Habanos collaboration.
What these four luxury houses and cigar-inspired watches had in common was that they were (intentionally or otherwise) made for a European and Asian clientele. That is because the cigar world has been bifurcated since 1962 when John F. Kennedy imposed the U.S. trade embargo on all Cuban goods. Meaning no Havana cigars, no Cuban tobacco, and no rum have been legally imported to the United States or its territories for commercial sale since then. And sadly, the embargo remains in effect to this day. As such, a powerful vacuum resulted, given that the U.S. was, and remains, one of the world’s largest premium and ultra-premium cigar markets.
This void would be filled by the nascent (relative to the history of the Cuban cigar trade) tobacco farming and cigar industries of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Ecuador, as well as the cigar tobaccos grown in Florida and Connecticut, U.S. This led to a host of new cigar brands, including American-market versions of historic legacy Cuban brands rolled with non-Cuban leaves. Two brands, Dunhill and Davidoff, departed Cuba; Davidoff would then expand greatly in the U.S.
While those previous watches were more globally minded, the pieces featured in part two were created either with the American market in mind or were exclusive to the United States. (That said, the Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars, the first examined here, have an enormous international fan base.)
Hublot X Arturo Fuente & Fuente Fuente Opus X
Since 2012, watchmaking and cigar rolling have been entwined via an ongoing (yet periodic) collaboration between Hublot and premium Dominican cigar maker Arturo Fuente. Resulting in timepieces that often celebrate the limited-production Fuente Fuente Opus X range – the first-ever Dominican puro cigar.
This alliance has yielded multiple limited-edition timepieces. The first was the 48mm Hublot King Power Arturo Fuente, crafted in honor of Fuente’s centenary and offered in both gold and ceramic, housed in a Macassar ebony humidor that Hublot commissioned specifically for this project.
This outstanding debut was followed three years later by the 45mm limited-edition Classic Fusion Forbidden X – which, intriguingly and impressively, featured an actual cigar-tobacco leaf preserved in a proprietary epoxy on the dial and was even offered in a tourbillon version.
After that came the 45mm Hublot Classic Fusion Fuente 20th Anniversary Special Edition in 2017. Like all its predecessors, it sold out.
Made for America
Around 2007, Hermès released a very limited edition (10 pieces) tobacco-brown Cape Cod 1928 timepiece that came in its own humidor and was created to commemorate the opening of the Hermès boutique on Broad Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
Then, exclusively for the U.S. market, came the first “Cohiba” wristwatch made by Swiss watch manufacture Frederique Constant in conjunction with General Cigar Co., the maker of Macanudo and the U.S. versions of Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, and Cohiba Red Dot. (“Red Dot” to distinguish it from the yellow, orange, and black livery of the Cuban counterpart.) It was called the “Frederique Constant for Cohiba Limited Edition.”
This 2010 limited-production watch (376 numbered pieces with 188 in steel and 188 plated in rose gold), launched at Club Macanudo in New York, came in a showcase humidor with a glass lid, stocked with 25 Dominican-made Cohiba (Red Dot) Crystal cigars.
The most recent cigar-watch partnership is between the U.S. edition of Montecristo and French boutique watchmaker B.R.M Chronographes. It is a curious pairing, given that B.R.M is known almost exclusively for its automotive and racing-inspired chronographs, but Alexandre Dumas was French, though, so there’s that, I suppose. Frederic Gasser, President of B.R.M Americas, did comment, “It’s a great privilege to add [another] French name to that legendary cigar…” Still, seems tenuous, nonetheless.
The new association, announced in May, yielded a 44mm B.R.M non-chrono timepiece finished in signature Monte yellow and red accents and housed in a in a Montecristo-branded humidor-cum-watch box in the same color scheme. The 32-piece limited-edition offering, dubbed the Montecristo B.R.M Humidor, is somewhat evocative of the aforementioned Frederique Constant for Cohiba Limited Edition humidor.
However, unlike the Frederique Constant version, the Monte B.R.M features a built-in automatic watch winder and comes stocked with 40 edition-exclusive Montecristo B.R.M cigars. These cigars are 6-inch x 52-ring gauge – essentially a cañonazo vitola, though it’s officially called a “toro” – and manufactured by the Plasencia family for Altadis U.S.A., the manufacturer and distributor of the U.S. edition/non-Cuban versions of Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Montecristo.
On and On It Goes
Along the way, there have been other notable cigar watches. Such as the 150-piece 42mm limited-edition Blancpain Quantième Perpétuel GMT (Ref. 4277-3446-55B) in platinum with a tobacco-hued “Havana brown” dial and a Bell & Ross 126 XL Edición Limitada – both of which came housed in humidors as well.
Even Swatch made a cigar watch with an image of a full-size cigar (a Swatch-branded Zino Mouton Cadet) running from one end of the strap through the dial to the other end. These were not necessarily made with the U.S. in mind per se, but all were well-received.
So, what will be the next cigar-inspired watch? Time will tell. In the meantime, light up a Montecristo “A,” relax, . . . and wait.