True Class

Timothy Barber
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PROBABLY like most men, my first encounter with Aston Martin was through James Bond. That image of Sean Connery looking ineffably sharp in his Sixties suit, leaning casually on 007’s DB5 – hands in suit pockets, half-smiling expression of supreme assurance – remains the quintessential embodiment of the “women want him, men want to be him” essence-de-Bond.

Climb behind the wheel of an Aston, and you’re instantly transported into that Bond-anointed world of style, urbanity and old-fashioned British derring-do. Which means you’d better look the part as well. Such a sophisticated drive demands sophisticated choices – here are a few pointers.

Were you to walk past Harrods at the moment you might see one of these in the window display – and it’s the kind of timepiece to make you stop and stare. The AMVOX watches are prestigious brand Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Aston Martin-inspired range, and share many of the cars’ specific qualities: a look that’s sleek, classy and instantly recognisable; super-advanced engineering, and a mixture of classic design and contemporary flare with a sporty, muscular edge.

The partnership between Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin actually goes back a long way. Back in the 1920s, Edmond Jaeger was one of the first to tap into the dynamic relationship between timepieces and precision dials in cars, and in that decade JLC began supplying beautifully crafted instruments like tachometers and speedometers for Aston Martin cars.

Only natural, then, that the two brands should team up again in the modern era. The AMVOX line was launched in 2004, and the AMVOX3 Tourbillon GMT is the pick of a very fine bunch. Its beautiful tourbillon complication (the delicate, gravity-defying cage mechanism around the escapement wheel) puts it in the top echelon of classic watch-craft, while innovative materials – titanium, carbon fibres, ceramics – give it futuristic cool.

And for true Aston fans, elements like the crown in the shape of an Aston Martin filler cap, the car radiator-resembling grid panel on the dial and the subtle logo at the six mark show that with luxury watches as with luxury cars, excellence is all in the details.

Maybe the only person to come close to matching the effortless masculine sophistication of Connery’s Bond was Steve McQueen in his Sixties heyday, and never more so than in that suavest of heist movies, the Thomas Crown Affair. He proved that shades worn with a suit made you achingly cool, particularly when those shades were Italian-made, blue-lensed, collapsible numbers from Persol, which has just re-released them in his honour.

Taking an Aston for a serious spin means putting it on the train, hopping over to Europe, and then letting rip on the great continental roads, from Alpine passes to the dramatic coastal routes along the Med. Not only do you need to stay in touch with business, you need to know what’s going on in the destinations you visit. Luxury phone company Vertu’s new Constellation Quest not only fulfills the normal smartphone functions, but comes with constantly updated cultural guides to scores of cities and a dedicated concierge service. From £5,000

The overriding theme here may be of quintessential Britishness, but the Aston Martin aficionado is an internationalist too – a man of the world who speaks a few languages, knows his way around the best European cities and where to find a first-rate whisky cocktail in each one. So when it comes to footwear, he’s not afraid to break away from Jermyn Street when the mood takes him, and Berluti is where he’s likely to turn (and to be fair, he need only go as far as Conduit Street to get there). Founded by an Italian but based in Paris, Berluti makes bespoke men’s shoes that are that bit more glamorous – owners are known for rubbing champagne into the leather to nourish it – while remaining exquisitely refined.

Bespoke London luggage maker Tanner & Krolle has a history dating back to 1856, in which time it’s made bags and cases for royalty, Hollywood stars and business leaders alike. It’s just taken a big step forward with the opening of a new store in Shepherd’s Market, where you’ll find the perfect, vintage-chic leather cases – handmade to the tiniest detail – for putting in the back of the Aston. Stackable cases from £3,300,

Hackett is another company taking fruitful inspiration from Aston Martin, and it’s been a pleasure in the past few years to see it assuming a position right in the vanguard of British style. Combining classic cuts and old-fashioned simplicity, Hackett’s aesthetic is now imbued with the poise and self-assurance of a truly great brand.

Sporting endeavour is a theme running through Hackett’s story, with rowing, rugby and motor racing its key touchstones. On the latter front, there’s a dashing sportswear range produced in collaboration with Aston Martin, including branded polo and rugby shirts, jackets and luggage – the numbered patches recalling retro bumper stickers are good fun. The main collections, meanwhile, seem to reverberate with the same plucky spirit that made heroes of Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn, with a little bit of Michael Caine thrown in for good measure. Distinguished and distinct.