Comic books aren’t just picture stories for kids, this medium has touched countless lives through the decades with gorgeous art and masterful story-telling that has entertained and inspired, a temporary but precious sanctuary in the reader’s mind from the world outside. One of its most prolific and iconic writers, Stan Lee, passed away on 12 November. Here, we present our tribute to Stan Lee and comic art in the form of our favorite heroes and villains, matched with wristwatches to remember these unforgettable characters by.
For all that upper body strength that makes swinging about seem as relaxing as a stroll in the park, Spiderman without his mask is a nerdy Peter Parker that doesn’t look like he’s seen the inside of a gym. Indeed, he’s socially a little awkward and wrestles with allergies. Earnest, angsty but not in a dark way as is fashionable among X-men; Spidey is wholesome and homey with exceptional courage, grit and ability that belie his boy-next-door appearance.
The watch that reminds us of Spiderman is modest, yet exceptional; not a chronograph, not luxurious, but of excellent quality and value, an everyday watch for an everyman as Parker is, at heart. That watch is the Longines Heritage 1969. The vintage-inspired design is subdued and very easy on the eyes, the brushed dial is beautiful without being ostentatious, while the power reserve of the self-winding movement within, rated at 64 hours, is head and shoulders above many.
Green, ugly and ferocious, the Hulk personifies raw rage that pulses within every living human being with the certainty of a heartbeat. In comparison, werewolves have it easier, only turning on a full moon that comes monthly, but life is filled with triggers aplenty for the likes of Dr Bruce Banner. The Hulk is us busting through injustices, smashing through contrary viewpoints and pounding detractors to mush.
We could imagine something tough and green, but the first watch to snap to mind is the Rolex Submariner ref. 116610LV from 2010. Any Submariner is tough as nails, but the ref. 116610LV, already nicknamed “Hulk” by the collecting community, represents a bulkier, more massive generation of Submariner, entering the market with scratch-proof ceramic bezel, broadened lugs and much more substantial guards shouldering its crown. And it’s all-green as the Hulk would be without his pants, down to its dial.
A wee stretch of the imagination and one might see Elon Musk as the real-life Tony Stark (or alternatively, Bond villain, it’s the same ‘type’ just on opposite flanks of the good-evil divide) – smart, ambitious, visionary tech industrialist, except that Stark is the proverbial playboy while Musk seems to be a family man, always pining about love when not mouthing off at the stock exchange.
In any case, Stark lives fast, and any chronograph that might be handy would be too pedestrian if it were remotely conventional. For Iron Man, an engineer’s engineer should be paired with a most technical manufacture, deserving of a Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Chronograph. We’d go with the “Racing” edition because the orange accents go nicely with orange rims on a Porsche. No pushers here, one starts, stops and resets the chronograph by pressing on the watch crystal to work a devilishly clever trigger mated to a fully-mechanical movement. Iron Man is all about tech wizardry, with panache.
A Renaissance man of letters and the sciences, in the body of a big, blue, beast. Intelligence is beautiful, and sometimes, so is irony; Beast is one of the most interesting characters among the cadre of X-Men, and would make a more attractive Thinker than Rodin’s.
Beast wouldn’t be wearing a watch – a sweat band would be more fitting – so we’ll wear one for him: the Omega Globemaster 39mm with blue (naturally) dial. The 60-hour power reserve is merely icing to the Master Chronometer movement tested exhaustively for precision and reliability, with industry-leading resistance to magnetic fields. Like Beast, it’s tough too: the tungsten carbide bezel offers greater scratch resistance than even ceramic, not least because it’s the stuff used to tip anti-tank sabot rounds designed to crack the hull of a main battle tank.
Captain America, bleeding-heart American patriot to the tips of his toes, a Hydra agent? Say it isn’t so!! No, even if man and mind crumbles, the ideals behind red, white, blue cannot die as long there’s someone who still believes in them. We’ll consign “Captain America” into the abstract if we must, and as an idea, a mental construct, it will be larger than Steve Rogers; and survive him.
Hamilton is as American as Swiss cheese; it started out American, playing a significant role in the nation’s history till it was sold in 1974 to what would eventually become the Swatch Group. That’s nothing compared to Rogers’ switching sides, so the Hamilton Pan Europ that proudly wears its red, white and blue, still qualifies. It’s a fine watch too, suitably inflected with a touch of vintage, being inspired by the cushion-cased Pan Europ chronograph of 1971. A simple, rugged three-hand would be a better fit for Captain America, its vintage styling a hat tip to Captain America’s outmoded aversion to swearing a lot, while the sporty character of the watch with handy timing bezel mirrors the hero/secret-villain’s athleticism. With beautiful dial details, we’re certainly not in two minds about the Pan Europ’s appeal.
This is the real deal; not dissing Batman of the DC stable, but Batman’s refusal to kill simply does not compute with all that darkness he affects, in a soul untainted by slaughter. The Punisher has long moved past such considerations, being freed from scruple and regret by criminals who killed his wife and kids.
The huge skull motif on Punisher’s chest made us think of the Bell & Ross BR-01 Airborne “Skull and Crossbones” for its menacing smiley and scimitar hands. But for the Punisher, a big, bad, black war watch for a warrior: the Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante 8 Days GMT Ceramica. A GMT because evil never sleeps, a chronograph to time the fireworks, ceramic case and in-house movement because only the best tech would do. Punisher’ll fit right in with the boys from The Expendables, were it not for the fact that he doesn’t seem much of a team player, preferring to prey on his own…
Mad genius applies here, literally, including the bit about being mad. Think Iron Man, but with an exotic streak being from some obscure (and fictitious) principality in Europe, a scientist who also dabbles in the mysteries of the occult, all the better to brew mayhem from a more holistic perspective.
A watch to remember Dr Doom by would follow a simple rule: everything in extreme. Not something of any utility for the everyman, but a watch that is complicated, technical, yet fancy; an exercise in complexity for its sake. We arrived at the Frank Muller Giga Tourbillon, a hypnotic, skeletal beast with the largest tourbillon ever fitted onto a wristwatch, at a jaw-dropping 20mm across. It’s also got four mainspring barrels stacked in pairs to deliver nine days of power reserve. No half-measures.
It’s a subjective impression until someone sits through the movies with popcorn and a chronograph, but one seems to get many more scenes of the X-Men mucking about than of Mystique kicking ass with smarts and kungfu. She’s worth her body weight of gold in dealing pain and pleasure, on either side of war and peace – it’s a duality we love, and leaves us wondering, “Who do we kill to get Mystique her own movie?”
She fought the X-Men, then changed sides as a double agent, before joining them for real… fighting for both sides without betraying herself. Two-sided, multi-faceted and wonderfully nuanced. That would be Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso One Duetto Moon, perfect for the lady with everything: looks, courage, brains. And then there’s the moon for a touch of romance and lunacy, a realm of mystery we see every night but never visit.
All to often, people like to think they know public figures better than they actually do, because they read about them or see them on screen all the time. Did Stan Lee do this or that? Was he like this or that? We don’t know. But as to what his comics did for us individually, that we can be sure. So, thanks.