Whenever I was at my Grandparent’s house as a kid, there was always some film from the 1950’s or 1960’s on in the background. Being from a Theatre family, both grandparents had a bit of an obsession with the narrative. Whether it be my Grandmother, who enjoyed grittier fiction such as the Sopranos or my Grandfather who knew what he liked and liked what he knew, who needless to say, stopped watching new films after Cary Grant stopped acting. Either way these films, their imagery and the scores became a bit of a backdrop to my childhood.
One film in particular stuck in my mind- The Silent Enemy (1958), which stars Laurence Harvey as Lieutenant Lionel Crabb commanding a small but chipper bunch of naval divers in Gibraltar. Their task, defending the British flotilla from the chariot riding, bomb sticking, Italian submariners.
Crabb became a hero of mine, with his charming and wicked sense of humour to the casual fearless attitude which he displays throughout the film. To the extreme that when I am (however rarely) on the beach I try to channel a bit of Crabb so to speak, in terms of style, I have of course been told on many occasions and by several people that I watch far too may movies and put too much stock into the parallel reality in which they exist.
But hey, not everyone’s perfect…
As we are seemingly approaching summer again after what seems like a long weekend of not that cold weather in the UK since the last summer. I thought I would share some spring summer staples which every man should have; even if it may be a bit harder to leave the country by the time summer actually does arrive… but let’s not get into that.
I know I have previously described the Rolex sub in not the most flattering of lights, but summer calls for a sports watch, and they really do look great on a steel sports, Nato or rubber strap if you are on the water (provided it’s pre-ceramic). Aside from anything else Crabb wears one... however given that the Sub wasn't launched until 1954 and the film is set at least 10 years earlier, I can only surmise that the costume designer had a special place in their heart for the relatively new (at the time) Rolex which later became the poster boy of all watches. Of course if you don’t want to drop what would be the equivalent of a deposit on a small cottage in the midlands on a time piece here are a couple of alternatives.
A Classic military layout, having been a member of the dirty dozen the group of watch companies tasked with outfitting British soldier in WW2 with time pieces. Its an elegant reliable piece suited to hanging out on the beach or being a bit more active, either way it’ll make you want to chuck on a pair of Ghurka shorts and smoke cigarettes with a pair of binoculars looking for bad guys, even if they are non-existant and you are only on the Kent coast.
Bamford Watch Department GMT
I’ve previously mentioned this watch in another article, but its still pulling on my heart strings, again it’s a British design with a swiss movement (not a bad pairing) with a steel sports strap, internal rotating bezel, and 70's design layout. it comes in several colour ways, the orange and steel is my favourite this week, as it feels like you should be sitting back on a Panam flight knocking back whiskey (with an E, so bourbon) sodas and again smoking too much (and if you’ve not guessed I’m trying to quit).
Ok enough watches,
There’s a scene in the film where Crabb and a fellow diver sneak over to from Gibraltar disguised as southern Spaniards in Aljazeera. Crabb’s underling is wearing a stripped nautical crewneck and beret, and so comes off as more of an impressionist. Harvey however decks himself out in a knitted long sleeve black polo piece and pleated linen trousers, again looking cool as chips. There is something about knitwear in hot climates that I just love however impractical. Of course, material is king in regard to this, aim for merino and silks or flax and linen pieces if it’s really hot.
Timothy Everest merino polo
Timothy Everest are another homegrown English tailoring brand with an amazing store on Redchurch Street in London's east end. Aside from suiting, their ready to wear is excellent; a personal favourite are the 60’s style long sleeved polos in merino, perfect for evenings paired with linen trousers and excursions aboard a Riva.
Belstaff engineered turtleneck
Aside from fielding an impressive collection of weatherproof jackets from waxed cotton to high tech polyurethane, Belstaff have an exceptional array of knitwear, they have recently produced a lightweight wool cashmere fitted turtle neck in black - which let’s not lie - covers all bases, you are never out of place wearing one.
Unfortunately we are not quite applying sun cream and running around “Tap’s af,“ (tops off) as our siblings north of the border do. But each piece thankfully can be worn in and out of season.
Words by Tom Heap
Notes on Omega's excellent cinematic short
How's your Pyjama game?