Richard E Grant may have found the only excuse for double-wristing (but there’s a catch…)Luke Benedictus
We all need some prejudicial rules of thumb to navigate the messy business of life. Charles Bukowski swore by the fairly unimpeachable conviction that you should “never trust a man in a jumpsuit”. Billy Connolly meanwhile believed you should “never trust a man who, when left alone with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on” (once again, the logic is watertight). Personally, however, I never trust anyone who wears two watches at once. It’s not that double-wristing is the sign of chronic indecision. Or even that it implies duplicity – wearing two watches making you quite literally two-faced. No, the root of the grievance goes far deeper than that.
Unlike say, socks, cufflinks or nipple tassles, watches are simply not made to operate in pairs. Some fools would argue that if God hadn’t wanted us to wear two watches at once, he’s never have given us two wrists. But that’s simply not true. The reason humans have two wrists is, of course, so God wouldn’t have to redesign handcuffs.
There are multiple reasons to never consider double-wristing. Firstly, if they’re two expensive watches, then it does look suspiciously like showing off. And even if they’re relatively modest, well, it still comes across as a stylistic affectation that feel overly contrived.
The common excuse to justify the habit was that voiced by the late “Stormin’” Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War. The American general explained that, in order to keep track of two time zones, he wore a Rolex Day-Date set to Saudi Arabian time on his left wrist and a Seiko dive watch set to Eastern Standard Time on his right. And that would indeed be a valid reason. If it wasn’t for the fact that the GMT was purpose built to deliver two time zones on a single dial and has existed for a good 70 years.
Unfortunately, Richard E Grant has since challenged this view. As Mike Christensen, formally of this parish, pointed out here, the British actor recently hosted the Baftas with two watches on his wrist. On his left, he wrote a Breitling Navitimer and on his right a Cartier Santos.
The annoying thing is the reason for Grant’s controversial move is actually quite touching. In 2019, on British rapper Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Piece Podcast, he explained that the Navitimer originally belonged to his late father, Henrik. “My father gave me his watch when he was dying,” Grant said.
But then he somehow managed to lose the watch. To compensate, Grant’s wife, Joan Washington, bought him the Cartier Santos, only for the lost Navitimer to then proceed to show up. “I found it [the Navitimer] a couple years later in a drawer. And so I wear both.”
Grant claims the decision is both “sentimental and practical” as the Cartier is set to the time in Swaziland where he grew up. Given the fact that Joan – his beloved wife of 35 years – died in 2021, there’s clearly a lot of emotional value invested in the Santos and the Navitimer. It therefore feels hard-hearted to begrudge Grant the second watch. Which made me start to question if I needed to rethink my “never trust a double-wrister” rule.
Except that, it then transpires that Grant is a long-term offender in the two-watch business. Check out this earlier shot of him (below) again wearing two watches, one of which is clearly not his dad’s Breitling, but an Ebel of some description.
I’m not for a moment questioning the veracity of Grant’s tale about his late father’s watch, of course. Then again, the nagging doubt remains: can you ever really trust a double-wrister?