Petrossian caviar, jamón Ibérico and vintage Moskovskaya vodka are just a few of the delicacies and rare spirits offered at Maison F.P. Journe here, the Swiss watchmaker’s unique, umbrella concept in the Epic hotel on the Miami River. The company relocated its longtime Miami office for North American operations to here, reintroduced retail to the market — its Bal Harbour boutique closed last year — and added in-house watch production and an experiential hospitality element.
Customers neither have to buy a watch, nor be in the market for one to gain access to Bar Journe and Terraza Astondoa, an outdoor lounge with La Flor Dominicana cigars that was designed by Spanish yacht builder Astilleros Astondoa. They don’t even have to be F.P. Journe collectors.
“We all know retail isn’t what it used to be,” said Pierre Halimi, general manager of Montres Journe America LLC, regarding the firm’s trifecta for 21st-century engagement: experiences, expertise and excellence. “It’s not just about a transaction but about discovering something new and getting away from the Tiffany counter display concept.”
Ever since the brand’s first store, which opened in Tokyo in 2005, founder François-Paul Journe has aspired to emulate a home with its “bookshelf and bar” prototype. In 2013, the Los Angeles location debuted the next evolution, a private inner sanctum for clients to sip cocktails and shoot pool. A red velvet rope emphasized its exclusivity. When it relocates soon, the Manhattan boutique will add a private full kitchen to wine and dine clients. Miami’s multiple lounges differ in that they’re open to the public. Diners reserve through the Tock app.
“We’re really pushing the envelope in Miami. We got a liquor license,” said Halimi, who hired a bar curator to hunt down pre-revolutionary Cuban rum and other conversation starters, which members can store in personal lockers. “Downtown has a lot of young professionals and foot traffic coming from all the new restaurants and retail like Brickell City Centre. It’s a good fit for us.”
Miami’s watchmakers will produce 10 percent of the overall, annual mechanical watch production, about 60 timepieces, according to Halimi. The Miami boutique doesn’t receive exclusive watches due to the brand’s limited-edition nature, but more Havana dials are purchased here than elsewhere. He hopes to attract more women through female-friendly events such as “Women and Whiskey.”
“We can go anywhere in Miami, and we’re brainstorming about topics for monthly talks to invite discussion,” said Halimi, who took inspiration from the Journe Society, a non-affiliated group organized by collectors to share brand news and other passions. “We really enjoy our collectors, and they just want to have a good time and hang out with their friends.”