He came to the Bomberg launch party impeccably groomed and nattily-dressed in a tailored jacket and distressed denim, sporting a killer timepiece on his wrist. One cannot expect less from stylemeister Anish Bhatt, an Internet superstar in these days when almost everyone online wants to be insta-famous.
The 30-something Londoner currently has 1.2 million followers on Instagram, among them Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, politicians, members of the millionaires club, and – we deduce, Middle Eastern royalty.
This A-lister is a far cry from the 18-year-old pharmacology student who developed a love for watches decades ago.
“Some guys develop interests in cars, others in girls; I became fascinated with high-end watches and what makes them fetch prices of $100,000 or $200,000,” he recalls. He did his research and started buying books even from places like Japan.
“I left my job in investing and started working in fashion. That’s where I had a more visual understanding of things that I liked to see.”
By 2003-2004, he moved to Florida to work for a fashion acquisition company. “That’s where I had the idea of starting my blog, which covered cars, travel, restaurants, and fashion.”
This happened at the dawn of street style photography, where shoots were done in the real world instead of in the studio. “This was the time the Sartorialist came around and I was really impressed by the really cool powerful pictures. There was not a lot of text but a lot of engagement with people. I wanted to do something like that.”
At the age of 30, he quit his job and moved back to London. “I had £5,000 in savings, not a sound idea,” he chuckles. He hired a college student as a photographer and set about the affluent areas of the city, looking for people who were nicely dressed in an eye-catching way.
“If they were wearing a watch, I would take a photo of their watch. If they weren’t I would let them wear one of my own. I had quite a collection then, because I started buying one for each year since I was 18. That’s how it all started. It was all quite organic.”
Six months later, he joined Instagram, and things just blew up. “That was three years ago. I like the platform because it fit what I wanted. It is picture-based, engaging, and quick. The space I was working in is the high-end luxury space and it is huge. There is an impression that people with money like to go to the malls and boutiques to shop but actually that is not the case anymore. When the tide was turning, I was at the right place at the right time.”
Accessory du jour
He laughs when asked if he judges people according to their outfits. “Whether you are in the fashion industry or not, I think we are all guilty of that.”
He says that he himself is no label whore. “I wear a lot of different things; it depends on where I am.” This is the same principle that he applies to the watch that he will wear for the day.
“Normally, I pair the strap color with my shoes or belt. If I am wearing something causal, I wear a big watch. Also, gold suits my complexion quite well. If I am going to a black-tie event, I wear a more discreet watch.” He explains further: With a formal suit, you always have to show your cuff. “If a big watch is protruding it will look weird,” he adds sagely.
He has 50 to 60 watches by now, he reveals, and when he forgets one of them, he feels… naked. “When I wear a watch, it is not for functionality. If I want to know the time, I look at my phone first before I look at my watch,” he admits.
Why wear a watch then? “A watch is very much an emotional item. I look at the one I am wearing about 1500 times a day, not even registering what time it is. I look at the details, the dial, and the colors. Also, it is not just an instrument. iIt is a mechanical piece of art and a fashion accessory.”
He cites Bomberg as one example of how timekeeping is changing with the times. “What I love about the brand is that for a Swiss brand it is very rock and roll. It is brash, aggressive, and sexy – stuff that a lot of the bigger brands would like to communicate but can’t.”
He describes the Bomberg profile. “The people in that party (he gestures outside to the floor where the DJ was playing EDM) they are all fun and very active. That is what the brand is. They may be executives at the top of their game, but they can party with you until 7 in the morning.”
Catch more of Anish online at www.WatchAnish.com and on his Instagram account @watchanish