Animal House: Kieselstein-Cord’s Pet-Inspired Timepieces

Designer Barry Kieselstein-Cord taps memories of childhood pets for a new collection of timepieces.

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Special Issue
WWD A issue 10/19/2009

For Barry Kieselstein-Cord, pets are more than companions — they serve as inspiration.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


The jewelry and accessories designer still has fond memories of his childhood pet, an alligator named Herbert. So fond is he, that Herbert is the house’s icon, serving as its logo and as a regular motif on Kieselstein-Cord’s belts, handbags, eyewear and fine jewelry. Herbert’s visage even has a place in the Musée du Louvre in Paris in the form of a gold cuff bracelet, which the museum acquired 14 years ago. Now, Herbert’s clock ticks once again with the launch of Kieselstein-Cord timepieces.


“I memorialize a great deal of my pets,” says Kieselstein-Cord, who was raised in Key Biscayne, Fla., and Manhattan. Among those pets represented in the line are horses, turtles, toads and fish.


The timepieces, which launched at Bergdorf Goodman last week, were in development for three years. There is one silhouette and three sizes, with options of 18-karat yellow gold, diamonds, steel and two-tone metal. The style depicts a weighty alligator, with its textured scaly corpus draped around the wrist. The fine ETA movement is made in Switzerland, and the watches are assembled in Kieselstein-Cord’s New York atelier. They start at $3,750 at retail for a model in stainless steel and top out around $45,000 for a gold version with diamonds. So far, only 100 of the limited edition pieces have been produced, he says.


“The evolution and workmanship of his signature alligator cuff into a watch is so clever and will resonate well with our customers,” notes Jodi Kaplan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of jewelry and watches for Bergdorf’s.


The line also will be available at Kieselstein-Cord’s nine boutiques around the world. The watch launch is concurrent with the firm’s 25th anniversary of using environmentally friendly methods to produce jewelry. The company was an early entrant into the arena of brands using recycled metal in their jewelry.


Some might say it’s surprising Kieselstein-Cord took so long to enter the watch business, as he comes from a long line of master watchmakers.


“I had no interest in watches until now because the pieces were too small,” he says, half joking. “I wanted to create an iconic watch, because everything that’s out there looks the same. I wanted to create something indelible.”

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