Simon de Burton finds that socialite and gallery-owner Tim Jefferies wears his heart under his sleeve
Tim Jefferies first came to prominence during the 1980s thanks to his family ties with the Green Shield Stamps empire. Briefly married to photographer and actress Koo Stark, he has since romanced some of the world’s most beautiful women, including Elle Macpherson, Elizabeth Hurley and Claudia Schiffer. For more than 15 years he has owned and run Hamiltons Gallery in London’s Mayfair, where he sells photographs and contemporary artwork. But his great private passion is collecting wristwatches.
“I bought my first good-quality watch when I was 17,” says Jefferies. “It was a Rolex Explorer II and I acquired a Cartier Tank at around the same time.” Jefferies hasn’t been able to hold on to every wristwatch he has owned, but one loss haunts him more than the rest. “I especially regret parting with a Porsche Design watch from my early twenties,” he says. “I was obsessed with the TV series The Professionals at the time, and I bought it after seeing one in the programme. Foolishly I sold it; I’m now trying to track down another, but they’ve become difficult to find.”
Jefferies refuses to be drawn on the extent of his watch collection—he says he once told a journalist how many suits he owned and got fed up with seeing the number endlessly repeated in the press. But when he reels off a list of some of the makes his collection contains, there is no doubt that he is an aficionado: Audemars Piguet, IWC, A Lange & Söhne, Rolex and Panerai are just a few of the brands locked up in his safe. “Watches appeal to me both because they are one of the few pieces of jewellery a man can legitimately wear and because
I have always been interested in mechanical objects.”
So how does Jefferies decide which to put on in the morning? “At the moment I wear one of the new, ceramic-cased IWC flight chronographs virtually all the time. I like it so much that I don’t want to take it off, but normally I would change watches every day or two.”
Jefferies likes to have different styles for different occasions: “I’m awaiting delivery of a platinum IWC Regulator, which is an elegant and understated watch for evening wear. But if I’m going to the beach, for example, I would probably wear my Rolex Submariner or a Panerai.”
Jefferies also regards fine timepieces as ideal gifts and claims to have spent a small fortune buying them for the various women in his life. But the present he considers most significant is an A Lange & Söhne that he gave to his best male friend as a 40th-birthday present.
“A watch definitely says something about the person who is wearing it,” says Jefferies. “When I meet someone for the first time, I always check out their shoes, their suit and their watch. I especially like to see women wearing men’s watches, big Panerais and so on. I saw a lady at a cocktail party recently with an enormous Glycine pilot’s watch on her wrist, and it looked great. But to demonstrate femininity and an interest in watches, I guess it’s hard for a woman to beat a classic Cartier or Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.”