It was a busy day for Simon Baker. The previous day, the Australian actor and director, together with actress Kate Winslet, were the stars of a party held at the Château de Chantilly, located about 50 km north of Paris, celebrating the Record collection from Swiss watch brand Longines. In fact, the two Ambassadors of Elegance had just wrapped up a photo shoot featuring the watch collection in another château.
Today, June 16, Baker was set to attend the glamorous Prix de Diane Longines horse race. He would accompany the brand in presenting elegant watches to the winning team and the winner of the Mademoiselle Diane by Longines award, celebrating the most elegantly dressed lady at the racecourse. Before all that, however, he graciously set aside a little time to chat about watches and his continued collaboration with the Swiss watch manufacturer.
“When I was a young man, a good watch was kind of the first prestigious item that one could own,” the star of the hit TV show The Mentalist remarked. “It was a very aspirational thing to have a watch.” In time, he would grow fond of classical watches with traditional aesthetics. “But I love seeing it when it’s been slightly updated,” Baker added, “which is great with Longines because they have such a long history of making watches (since 1832) that they have a lot of models that are very classic.”
He then observed that even newer models and newer designs would invariably borrow classic elements of past timepieces and then slightly update them. “Which I think is definitely the case with the Record collection,” Baker said of the collection he’s now promoting. “It’s very simple, very elegant, very understated … and it’s also very contemporary.”
“I do like the Record model,” Baker continued. “I think the Record will be, in the future, an absolute classic.” The Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actor, though, has been an Ambassador of Elegance for Longines since 2012, and he apparently already has a favourite go-to timepiece.
“A standard Longines watch that I always go back to is my first ever Longines watch, the Flagship Heritage, which, I think, is a classic,” he pointed out. “If you looked at that next to this,” he said while showing the Record watch he was wearing at the time, “they’re very different, but you can understand why I’m drawn to both.”
Baker has an instinctive and effortless elegance about him. Listening to him talk about the aesthetics of watches, it became even more apparent why he was drawn to the idea of collaborating with Longines – and why their relationship has lasted so long.
“Just like with any relationship, the more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them. So, I’ve gotten to know Maya, for instance over seven years,” Baker said, gesturing to Maya Robert-Nicoud, the brand’s International Marketing Project Manager in charge of VIPs and Brand Ambassadors. “So I kind of know what Maya will understand about me and she understands aspects of me that I can’t articulate. She can pull out a watch and say, ‘I think you’re going to like this one,’” Baker added, “and I’ll go: ‘Oh, perfect!’”
Simon Baker, the Australian actor and director, and Longines Ambassador of Elegance, discusses his fascination with watches and the storied Swiss brand with Joezer Mandagi.
“The idea of the key elements of tradition, performance and elegance … when you first join you see those as marketing words,” Baker reflected, “but the more time I’ve spent [with the brand], the more I understand that that is really the true foundation of what this brand is.” He then mentioned Longines’ long history again, and how it has managed to reflect those three qualities through nearly two centuries.
“Who knows how long I will be an ambassador?” he then remarked. “There will be other people that come through, but I know that when I’m an old man this brand will still be a brand that has the foundations of tradition, performance, and elegance. And there’ll be someone else that will feel as proud as I was to be sitting here.”
All that being said, what does it really mean for Baker to be an Ambassador of Elegance for Longines? Does it go beyond watches? Is elegance something that becomes an inherent part of such an ambassador’s daily life? “I don’t translate it into my daily life,” Baker answered with a grin. “It’s an external perception. For me – and this is what’s wonderful about Longines – is that as I’ve gotten to know them, they understand who I am and are accepting of me. So, I get to be myself … completely.
“They chose me, I like their watches, we have a symbiotic good relationship,” he concluded. “I understand what my role is, I’m happy and proud that I still feel that I can completely be myself, whether I’m sitting here in a lovely suit wearing a beautiful watch or two weeks ago when I was surfing on a boat in the Maldives with a Longines watch on as well. I felt truthful to who I was in that moment as much as I feel truthful to who I am in this moment.”
Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short as the Prix de Diane Longines was about to start. Baker, of course, was looking forward to a day full of excitement, in which he would be giving out awards and probably cheering on his favourite racers – all while being his own elegant self.