42 Favorite Facts For 2020
At the end of 2020, The New York Times published a story entitled “74 of Our Favorite Facts for 2020,” which contained 74 of the most interesting, striking, or delightful facts that the editors found in articles published by the newspaper last year.
I found this article incredibly entertaining and educational and thought to do a similar one using fun facts mined from a year’s worth of posts on Quill & Pad.
Quill & Pad also publishes a weekly spirits column written by Ken Gargett, so as well as covering the world of watches, some of the funn(i)est facts may concern wine, champagne, or hard liquor.
These are in no particular order and in no way represent any sort of ranking; they are just random facts I found interesting, entertaining, and/or educational in 2020. Enjoy!
1. John Mayer
Pop blues guitarist John Mayer once put a freshly delivered top-grade Custom Shop Stratocaster guitar in the freezer overnight in the hope of “inducing some sort of molecular transformation” that would bring the guitar to life after being disappointed when the guitar was delivered; plugging it in, he declared it was “just kinda meh.”
Hermès donated a whopping €20 million to Paris-area public hospitals in April 2020 when France was hit particularly hard by COVID-19.
For more, see 5 Ways Watch Brands Are Providing COVID-19 Support.
Glashütte, a small town in Saxony with a population of just over 7,000 people, celebrated 175 years of watchmaking in 2020.
For more, see 4 Sensational Highlights From Glashütte’s Milestone 175th Anniversary In 2020 Featuring A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original, Nomos Glashütte, And Moritz Grossmann and 175 Years Of Watchmaking In Glashütte: A History Of Fine German Watchmaking.
4. Van Cleef & Arpels
The only non-swiss brand to win a prize at the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie was Van Cleef & Arpels, which was founded in France in 1896.
5. Eric Coudray/MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome
Watchmaker Eric Coudray created the fastest triple-axis tourbillon in the world in the MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome. Joshua Munchow described its insane hemispherical balance wheel as, “This is the first time in modern history that any oscillator has not been a flat disk or ring.”
6. Eric Coudray/Purnell Escape II Double Tourbillon
Eric Coudray is also the architect behind Purnell’s Escape II Double Tourbillon, which boasts the fastest double triple-axis tourbillon in the world.
7. Paul Newman and the Rolex Daytona
The second Rolex Daytona Reference 6263 owned by Paul Newman to come to auction didn’t go nearly as stratospheric in its achieved sale price as the first – which sold for a record-setting $17.5 million in 2017 – coming in at “only” $5,475,000 during the live Phillips auction on December 12, 2020.
For more, see Prices Reached: 12 Watches On The Block At Phillips New York December 2020 Racing Pulse Auction, Including Some Celebrity-Owned By Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Bono, Andy Warhol, And John Lennon.
8. Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank”
“Shark Tank” celebrity Kevin O’Leary does not sell watches out of his collection, and when he gifts a watch to, for example, one of his companies’ CEOs – he does not expect them to sell it either, stating, “And when I give a watch, the requirement is that the new owner isn’t allowed to sell it or give it to someone else! You’d be amazed at how many young entrepreneurs want to get their hands on a steel, white-faced Rolex Daytona when they could have anything – I totally respect that, but once I give the watch as a memento of our deal, I expect that it will be kept.”
9. Chopard and James Bond No Time to Die
Chopard created jewelry for the latest Bond girl in the forthcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die – and you loved that news.
10. Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen had great taste in watches.
11. Bell & Ross shows some ‘Community’
Not only Eddie Van Halen wears Bell & Ross: Joel McHale and Tom Hanks do too.
12. Richard Mille piece by piece
According to numbers released by Morgan Stanley and reported in Le Point, Richard Mille achieved Switzerland’s eighth highest turnover by value in 2019 at 900 million Swiss francs, representing 4,900 units sold. The implied average retail price per watch for this brand was €208,915!
13. Aldis Hodge goes Kurono Tokyo
Vantablack, a material created for military camouflage and astrophysical telescopes, absorbs 99.965 percent of light; it is used in the watch industry – sparingly – for watch dials.
15. Time & Tide fire funds
Time & Tide’s “Watch & Act” charity auction raised more than $200,000 in January 2020 to help the fight against Australia’s devastating, raging fires.
16. MB&F Bulldog
A watch can look vaguely like a bulldog thanks to MB&F.
17. Jaquet Droz petrified
Jaquet Droz used 150 million-year-old petrified wood as a watch dial.
18. Bulgari and the smallest whirlwind
Bulgari made the smallest tourbillon in the world. And put it in a female-oriented watch.
19. Michael Jordan
Star basketballers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen actually owned the Roger Dubuis timepieces they prominently wore in the miniseries documentary The Last Dance, which took the world by storm during 2020’s first lockdown.
20. Jaeger-LeCoultre on Place Vendôme
The building housing the Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique at Place Vendôme was once the scene of a daring coup d’etat against the French emperor: in the Malet coup of 1812, French general Claude-François de Malet falsified documents stating Napoleon had died while in Russia, enabling him to con several senior officers and almost allowing him to take control of the French capital. Presented with the papers in his office at 7 Place Vendôme, Colonel Pierre Doucet recognized that they were forged and lured Malet into a room by himself, overpowered him, and regained control of the armed forces in the name of Napoleon. Malet was later tried and executed.
21. Million-dollar pilot’s watch
A pilot’s watch exists that costs $1.2 million at retail.
22. Nicholas Hoult
Actor Nicholas Hoult’s family has a tradition of passing timepieces down through family members and had a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso engraved for his two-year-old son as the start of a new branch of the tradition.
23. Jacob & Co and the Bugatti Chiron
Jacob & Co introduced a timepiece that mimics the engine of a Bugatti Chiron with 16 working sapphire crystal “pistons” and a “crankshaft,” while the entire movement is visibly suspended on “shocks” and includes “exhaust pipes” extending out from an “engine block.” The mechanical mini engine serves no practical purpose at all; it exists to generate fun.
24. Clark Gable
Clark Gable chose to wear a (now quite rare and very expensive) dress watch to portray a sailor in a 1955 Hollywood film.
25. Chanel goes full sapphire crystal
Chanel released the first watch ever with a full sapphire crystal bracelet, a world premiere.
26. Andrew Cuomo’s Breguet
New York governor Andrew Cuomo not only wears a Breguet Marine Reference 5817, he also publicly pledged to give it to his daughter as a college graduation gift during a press conference in June 2020. It turns out he got it from his father.
27. Tutima hashtag
Tutima is the second watch brand to create a timepiece inspired by a social media hashtag.
28. Richard Mille’s female racers
Richard Mille sponsors an all-female Le Mans team: in a particularly masculine domain, one team bucks the males!
29. Patrick Mouratoglou and Zenith
Patrick Mouratoglou is only the second tennis coach in history to establish a partnership with a watch brand.
30. Watch robberies
People are being shot and stabbed on the street for their watches.
31. 3D-printed watch
A $30,000 watch exists containing 11 components made using metal binder jetting (3D printing).
For more, see Barrelhand P1: Fans, Homages, And 3D Printing.
32. Hermès . . . aaaargh!
Hermès released a watch in 2020 called Arceau Pocket Aaaargh, which features a stylized enamel T-Rex.
33. Dornblüth ceramic
D.Dornblüth offers handmade ceramic dials.
34. IWC and COVID-19’s lasting effect
IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr thinks the pandemic will have a lasting effect on brand communication: “The digital proximity we are experiencing right now may have a lasting effect on how we communicate with our customers, partners, and journalists. I think it is likely that we will put an even bigger emphasis on video content in the future.”
35. Vintage Spaceman
André Le Marquand designed the Spaceman in 1969, the same year David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” hit the airwaves and humankind landed on the moon. Coincidence? I think not.
36. RIP RJ Romain Jérôme
The brand that shockingly (for the time) made watch cases from smelted steel from the Titanic has gone bankrupt.
37. Bulgari fully iced
Bulgari’s Octo L’Originale, released in January 2020, boasts an eye-splitting diamond weight of 50.25 ct (1,172 individual diamonds).
38. Bentley’s centenary
Bentley turned 100 years old in 2020.
39. Watchmaker turns to gin
A failed watchmaker makes one of the world’s best gins.
And on the subject of gin, we learned that distillers can make it using absolutely anything, even truffles, Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, trout, elephant dung, and green ants.
41. Sparkling red wine
Rene Pogel is “leg opener” spelled backward – and, yes, it is a sparkling red wine and, yes, you should know that before you drink it.
42. Crimean wine
A Crimean winery’s “chateau” took 80,000 serfs to construct, 20,000 of whom died during the process.