Airports are strange places. They are gateways, lands between the country you’re leaving and the place to which you are headed, where things like time and propriety cease to exist (as anyone who has seen a stag-do on the way to Prague at 6am getting on the beers will attest). It is also a place where you can shop for the most eclectic selection of things – need some imported caviar? Why certainly, Sir? And would Madame also like a bottle of Chanel Chance and a new Touche Eclat? And do the children have enough books, games and music to keep them occupied? And you can buy watches. So, with a metaphorical martini in hand, even though it’s only 8.30am, we thought we’d guide you through a few UK airports and point you in the direction of some timepieces that are worth getting on your wrist before you jump on a plane. (We’ve also included links to where to buy them outside of airports, in case this kind of devil-may-care attitude to watch buying just isn’t quite your thing…)
World Duty Free, Various Airports
This is the place where you can really stock up on all those perceived essentials from this season’s nail varnish to inflatable neck pillows. The watch brands here run the gamut from the quick-win sub £100 category, such as this fab Baby-G, to the more-considered “getting on for £1,000” bracket, such as the Tissot T-Touch and Casio G-Shock. However, whether you’re looking for something to splash about the surf in (Baby-G, G-Shock or Tissot) or something that looks good propping up the beach bar (thank you Calvin Klein and Kate Spade), you’ll certainly find something to fit the bill. From left to right: Casio Baby-G Silver Shimmer: RRP £83, also available from Watch Warehouse; Calvin Klein Senses Ladies two-colour bracelet watch: RRP £245, also available from Ernest Jones; Casio G-Shock Gravity Master RAF: RRP £850, also available from Watch Shop; Kate Spade Metro Black Dot: RRP £175, also available from John Lewis and Tissot T-Touch: RRP £620, also available from The Watch Hut.
Watches of Switzerland, Heathrow Terminal 5
With its Gordon Ramsey restaurant and rows of big-name luxury brands, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is definitely the chicer terminal from which to depart these shores, which is why it is not surprise that Watches of Switzerland has just opened a door here. There aren’t any bargains to be had here, per se, but if you’re looking for some serious wrist candy then grab the credit card and get shopping. However, that doesn’t mean that all these watches can do is look good. The Omega Planet Ocean is a trusty snorkelling companion, while the Hublot Big Bang will be more than up to a few laps of the hotel pool. The Bell & Ross could be useful if you decide to take a flying lesson, while you’ll have to leave the TAG and Chopard for cocktail hour. From left to right (all watches available from various Watches of Switzerland stores): Bell & Ross BR03: RRP £2,800; Chopard Happy Sport: RRP £11,190; Omega Planet Ocean: RRP £3,720; TAG Heuer Carrera: RRP £1,600; Hublot Big Bang: RRP £9,400.
Hour Passion, Gatwick North Terminal
There’s always a feeling of being on the edge of a very big party at Gatwick, which is why Swatch’s mixed-brand boutique, Hour Passion, fits perfectly in here. Focusing on the mid-Swatch brand market, you can pick up a Flik Flak for the kids, while you make a more considered purchase. There’s Hamilton for those looking for a little slice of Americana, while Rado is a elegant choice that will look fabulous with a tan. And if you’re looking for something for the water then Longines Hydroconquest is the ideal companion. From left to right: Hamilton Khaki Officer Mechanical: RRP £540, also available from Watch Shop; Flik Flak: RRP £29.10; also available from The Watch Hut; Rado True Ladies Watch: RRP £1,360, also available from Goldsmiths and Longines Hydroconquest: RRP £790, also available from The Watch Gallery.
Links of London, London City Airport
Get to City at 7am on a Monday and you can’t move for M&S suits on their way to a meeting at a non-descript Swiss or German airport hotel but there are more people using it for pleasure these days. Whether you’re crunching numbers or topping up the tan, Links of London is the perfect pitstop for something sophisticated. The Brompton’s (left) interesting dial shape will make for a post-meeting talking point, while the MPH (right) looks very jet set. We like to think of the Phoebe as something to take you from day to night, wherever you’re flying to. From left to right (all watches available from various Links of London stores): Brompton: RRP £395; Phoebe rose-gold plate and ceramic watch: RRP £295 and MPH with white dial: RRP £295.
Swatch, Manchester Airport
As the third biggest airport in the UK, you’re likely to see all walks of life when you walk through the doors of Manchester Airport. But before you head to the bar to indulge in some people watching, why not brighten your wrist at the Swatch boutique. It will give your holiday wardrobe a much-needed lift. You can adorn your wrist with a pineapple, give it some class with an automatic or get something to take you from poolside to waterslide. And all for under £150. From left to right (also available at various Swatch stores): Sistem51 cream: RRP £108; Exotic Taste: RRP £39 and Scuba Libre Serifos: RRP £59.