Look the Business

The stylist Martha Ward on her love of traditional watches for work in a digital age.

Her glamorous career as a celebrity fashion stylist takes Martha Ward all over the world. Every day is different; the only constant, she says, is that she’s perpetually busy. Whether she is off on a night shoot in Tokyo, flying to a commercial job in New York or driving to a country house shoot for Town & Country in the UK, no two days are ever the same. ‘I’m always on the go,’ she says, calling me as she’s travelling from a meeting in Oxfordshire to another in London, ‘and there are literally 32 things going on at once. Sometimes, my day starts with an appointment at 8am, and continues every hour for the rest of the day, so if you start badly, then your whole day slides out of control.’ Keeping good time, therefore, is crucial. ‘I like to be on time,’ she says, ‘otherwise it’s a cause of great anxiety and stress. It’s easy to be delayed if you don’t work things out properly; but it’s also ill-mannered. In essence, if you turn up late to a meeting, you’re saying to someone that your time is more important than theirs.’

It’s no surprise to discover, then, that Ward is something of a watch aficionado. ‘When I’m styling someone for a shoot, I always keep their watch on,’ she says. ‘I think a person’s choice of timepiece speaks volumes, and not just about their taste. There’s almost always a story behind a watch and I love that: whether it’s been inherited from someone, or bought to celebrate a particular special event, it’s such a significant piece.’


Left and right:

  1. Montblanc

    Ward wearing Bohème Day & Night £1,475.

Ward herself owns a couple of fashion watches, and was given a TAG Heuer for her 21st birthday, which has become a sentimental piece and no longer worn, though still loved. ‘But my dream watch, which I will treat myself to one day, is a man’s steel and gold Rolex, with Roman numerals and the all-important date window – an understated classic that never goes out of fashion,’ she says. ‘My father still wears the one he was given on his 21st birthday. This just highlights that a Rolex really stands the test of time. I also love the idea of owning a few watches and switching them around depending on what I’m wearing. The Montblanc Day & Night watch works curiously well with prints, which I love, so I am often drawn to it.’ An acute observer of fashion trends, Ward has noticed a resurgence, recently, in the popularity of watches.

“I have to keep an eye on the time,and I was worried that people might think I was checking my messages when I used my phone as a watch…”



From left to right:

  1. Gucci

    G Timeless Quartz £570.

  2. Cartier

    Tank Solo Quartz £1,920.

‘You might imagine that smartphones have made watches redundant,’ she says. ‘In fact, I think the opposite is true.’ Having spent years relying on her phone to tell her the time, she bought herself a new watch this year when she was asked to deliver a series of talks at London Fashion Week.

‘I knew I’d have to keep an eye on the time, and I was worried that people might think I was checking my messages when I used my phone as a watch…’ Since going back to a wristwatch, she finds her hectic schedule easier to manage. ‘I’d rather not look at my phone when I don’t have to – it’s distracting,’ she says. ‘I don’t want my watch to tell me the weather forecast or to show me the latest news updates. So the idea of a modern-day “smart watch” sends me into a spin. Call me old-fashioned, but I just want to know the time, not my heart rate, so wearing a normal watch actually keeps me calmer. I can’t imagine not wearing one these days. And I find I am now a keen observer of other people’s timepieces too. They’re nothing but revealing.’


All available at The Watch Gallery.
WRITTEN BY Lydia Slater