NBA Basketball Legend James Harden Talks Watches And The Vanguart Black Hole Tourbillon
One of the most novel watches I’ve had the pleasure to handle in the last couple of years is the Vanguart Black Hole Tourbillon. It features a flying tourbillon acting as a black hole with surrounding time disks forming a “vortex.” Additionally, a “joystick” controls the time-setting, winding, and functionality, which includes a countdown, instead of the usual crown.
Different from any other luxury timepiece currently on the market, it also has true horological pedigree in the form of Axel Leuenberger as one of the company’s four co-founders. Leuenberger’s previous experience includes assisting Giulio Papi in R&D at Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APRP), where he worked to develop products for Richard Mille, HYT, and Chanel among others.
Jérémy Freléchox, CTO, was a mechanical movement designer at APRP for 15 years and before that with Girard-Perregaux for six years. He has mastered the most complicated elements that watchmaking has to offer, including minute repeaters, tourbillons, and perpetual calendars. And the idea of the black hole originated with creative director Thierry Fischer in 2011, long before the idea of Vanguart was ever on the table. Fischer is a watch designer and CGI specialist.
Joining these three Swiss watch industry insiders is Mehmet Korutürk, co-founder and chairman of Vanguart SA. And then there is the backing of ultra-famous basketball legend James Harden as a shareholder in addition to being brand ambassador. Korutürk explains how this came about.
“I met James’ Manager Lorenzo McCloud in Palo Alto at the Christmas party of Vivek Ranadive, who owns Sacramento Kings. He was very interested in our project when I told him I was launching a new high horology brand in Switzerland. I knew James was a seasoned watch collector and was surprised that one of the most elite athletes in the world didn’t have a collaboration with an existing brand. My business-partner and co-founder Axel Leuenberger and I met James and Lorenzo in Houston a few months later, right before the playoffs and we talked at length about joining forces. James – that year’s most valuable player in the NBA – became one of our very first investors at a time when we only had computer designs of the first model. We couldn’t find a better person than him to jump-start Vanguart: he is not only one of the best players of all time but also by far the most stylish, best-dressed name in the NBA. We will be launching our first collaboration honoring him during his birthday weekend this summer in Texas.”
For more about this watch, its technical details, and its genesis see Vanguart Black Hole Tourbillon: Featuring A Flying Tourbillon Orbited By ‘Vortex’ Display Disks And A Joystick Controlling Time.
James Harden, Vanguart, and watches
Harden is currently one of the NBA’s most visible talents, not only for his skill and success in the sport but also for his style choices. It is interesting that he only started getting into watches when he entered the NBA, having borrowed a watch for the draft, “and from there it was something that I knew I wanted to have,” he told me in an exclusive email interview.
A Casio G-Shock was his very first watch. “Those were in when I got drafted into the NBA so I had a few of those my rookie year,” he explained, the rookie year being the one in which he started to collect watches. “I like watches that are hard to get, exclusive watches that have a strong sense of identity,” Harden continued before adding that he looks for quality over quantity.
“Richard Mille is what I have been wearing lately,” he told me in answer to the question as to what kinds of complications he prefers. “They have a lot of styles and all have appreciation value. As an athlete I like the chronograph feature to time performances and as a perfectionist a tourbillon is always a great addition for ultimate precision. Vanguart’s Black Hole has a unique countdown complication, which I find extremely interesting.”
Harden told me that he’s always wanted to partner with a watch brand. “Vanguart gave me the autonomy to create so that made it a no-brainer. I have so many ideas, and since everything is designed in-house I have complete creative input,” he explained. “Independent brands are imposing themselves more and more in the luxury watchmaking world. The team had been behind some of the most complex and acclaimed watches of the past decade for some of my favorite brands. When they showed me their project, we clicked immediately. They have a unique vision and are bringing a new style to the horology world.”
And of course, this unique high-end watch goes wonderfully with Harden’s personal style. “The watch grabs all the attention in a room, the display is so eye-catching. And as I’m really into my style, the changeable strap mechanism lets me easily fit my timepiece with my outfit.”
For more information, please visit www.vanguart.com.
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