For more insider watch coverage, get Box + Papers, GQ’s newsletter devoted to the watch world, sent to your inbox every Thursday. Sign up here.
Just a few days before the Met Gala, powerhouse celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati, who was prepping actors Rami Malek and Barry Keoghan for the event, was surprisingly relaxed. “It’s always so crazy I barely notice,” she says. Plus, unlike awards season—which requires juggling multiple outfits from multiple labels for her clients in rapid succession—Met Gala looks are designed bespoke and generally come together far in advance. But Urbinati still had one big thing left to figure out for both Malek and Keoghan: their watches.
Over the last couple years, for stylists like Urbinati, timepieces have gone from an occasional accessory to an essential element of every look they put together. “I used to put a watch here and there on guys,” Urbinati says. “Now every guy gets a watch.”
In Malek and Keoghan’s cases, that process begins with Urbinati screening a collection of 20 watches from each of their respective brand partners—Cartier for Malek and Bulgari for Keoghan—and whittling them down to six apiece. Those half-dozen selections are then on-hand for the stars’ final fittings, where she decides on the right watches for their looks and then sends them out the door.
Urbinati is not alone in prioritizing watches for the men she dresses. Timepieces are so close to the top of the checklist for stylist Jason Bolden, who works with celebrities like Dwyane Wade, Trevor Noah, and Michael B. Jordan, that he sometimes alters the clothes themselves to let the watches shine. “It’s been pretty aggressive with how I style,” Bolden says. “Now everyone’s wearing a timepiece. It’s even