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“Madison Avenue has the largest collection of luxury watches anywhere,” declared Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, Tuesday at the Surrey Hotel.
That’s where Bauer officially launched the third annual Madison Avenue Watch Week, which concludes Saturday, and hosted a breakfast discussion with Marc Hruschka, president and chief executive officer of Chopard; Michael Margolis, president of Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard North America, and Benjamin Clymer, founder of Hodinkee, an online magazine covering high-end watches, who moderated. “New York is a great watch town in some ways and not the strongest watch town in other ways,” Clymer told the crowd of about 20 watch lovers. His point: Luxury jewelry and watch boutiques are fantastic for product and service, but multibrand stores typically lack service and expertise.
For the dozen or so watch lovers on hand, the discussion was wide-ranging, covering topics from currency fluctuations and materials costs affecting prices, to technical innovations like “constant force escapement.” Being accessible to clients was a big theme, with the executives encouraging visits to factories and watchmakers. “Literally meet the person who made your watch,” Margolis stressed. Chopard, said Hruschka, is “pushing vertical integration. We want to have as much control as possible. Ninety-six percent of the components of a piece are produced in-house.”
Watch Week seems to be gaining momentum, this year rounding up 17 boutiques between 57th and 86th streets along Madison Avenue, including Montblanc, Georg Jensen, Graff, Chopard, David Yurman, de Grisogono, Girard-Perregaux and Porsche Design, to stage private parties, discussions with watch experts and watchmakers, and exhibits of the latest styles and technologies, as well as antiques and vintage pieces. “It’s really about bringing collectors to Madison Avenue to see the newest innovations, even before Baselworld,” said Amy Rosi, a spokeswoman for the BID.