Outside Switzerland, there’s probably no better place to buy a luxury watch than in Manhattan, with the majority of top watchmakers’ stores, often brand flagships, lining Fifth and Madison Avenues. Here’s our guide to shopping for an extraordinary timepiece.
A. LANGE & SÖHNE
Photo Credit: A. Lange & Söhne
A relative newcomer to New York retail, A. Lange & Söhne opened its first New York store at 785 Madison (alange-soehne.com) in 2014. The company, which was founded in the mid–nineteenth century, is known for its finely finished mechanical watches, which have been spotted on such macho boldfacers as Vladimir Putin and Clint Eastwood. This year the company debuted seven watches, including the limited-edition (100 pieces) Datagraph Perpetual Tourbillon, with three complications and a black solid silver dial; and Saxonia Thin, a popular model, with a new dial and case.design.
The high-tech boutique at 645 Fifth Avenue (blancpain.com) provides a a totally immersive shopping experience thanks to a 360-degree in-store screening system. Marilyn Monroe wore a diamond Blancpain, and personalities as diverse as Vladimir Putin (he must like fancy watches!) and Brad Pitt have been spotted wearing the brand too. This year Blancpain created a 60-piece limited-edition collection celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Ladybird, and produced the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe with a gray ceramic case, among other releases.
Founded in 1775, this company, with a New York boutique at 711 Fifth Avenue, has had a long list of illustrious customers including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Fast-forward to more recent times: Bruce Wayne, Ben Affleck’s character in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, wore a Breguet Tradition Fusee Tourbillon.. This year Breguet introduced two new Classique models, the Hora Mundi 5727 with an instant time-zone jump, and synchronized date, 24-hour and city indications, and the 7147 with an extra-thin self-winding movement.
Photo Credit: Hublot
Hublot (hublot.com) fans, such as Jay Z and Pelé, can choose from two nearby outposts in Midtown, the new Peter Marino–designed flagship at 743 Fifth Avenue and the 692 Madison Avenue locale. When creating the Fifth Avenue store façade, Marino, in keeping with the brand’s innovative use of materials for watchmaking, worked with powder-coated black aluminum panels and LED lights to create a bold, graphic retail statement along a storied shopping street. Step inside the store—a cooly designed space with black lava stone and wood floors, graphite-colored leather furnishings, and glass and polished stainless steel fixtures—to have a look at Hublot’s latest high-tech limited-edition offerings, among them the Big Bang UNICO Usain Bolt timepiece, designed in collaboration with the world’s fastest man; the Classic Fusion Aerofusion Limited New York Edition (40 pieces), Hublot’s first timepiece co-designed by the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz; and Hublot’s latest UNICO and Meca-10 watches.
IWC’s largest boutique in the world (535 Madison Avenue, iwc.com) showcases all of the brand’s collections—Aquatimer, Pilot’s Watches, Portofino, Ingenieur, Da Vinci, and Portugieser—in a finely designed bilevel setting. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is a fan, and “friends” of IWC, renowned for its watch-engineering prowess, include Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s stylish boutique (70l Madison Avenue; www.jaeger-lecoultre.com) nods to Art Deco style and the fine art of horology with a centerpiece display case and light fixtures that reference watchfaces. The brand recently launched the Atmos 568, an air-powered clock made with Baccarat crystal and designed by Marc Newson, the influential designer known for a sinuous modernism, who has collaborated with the company since 2008. There are plenty of the brand’s signature Reversos to choose from at the boutique, including the latest, the Reverso One High Jewelry. The design of this timepiece, crafted in white gold, alludes to the earliest Reversos made in the 1930s.
Like Colette in Paris, this concept store in SoHo (120 Wooster Street; 2nd Floor; materialgoodny.com) is all about exquisite curation, with a focus on timepieces and jewelry, both new (Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille) and vintage (Rolex and Patek among other brands), along with accessories, furniture, and art, including Basquiats and Warhols.
Everyone from former president Bill Clinton and Russell Crowe to Brad Pitt has been spotted wearing one of the brand’s luxury sports watches. Take in Panerai’s 2016 offerings with four new Radiomir 1940 Collection watches at the New York boutique (703 Madison Avenue; panerai.com), designed by Patricia Urquiola.
PATEK PHILIPPE AT TIFFANY & CO.
Photo Credit: Patek Philippe
The partnership between these two top brands has been going strong since 1851, when Antoine Norbert de Patek, the founder of the watch company that shares his name, met Charles Lewis Tiffany, the jewelry pioneer, and entered into an agreement for Patek watches to be carried at Tiffany’s New York store. In 2008 the collaboration took another step forward when Patek opened its first U.S. boutique at Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship (727 Fifth Ave.). In this Art Deco style haven, located on the mezzanine level, you’ll find some of the watchmaker’s most exquisite and intricate timepieces. Patek lovers will want to check out the new gem-setting technique, called Flamme®, introduced this year and designed to enhance gem sparkle on watches, which you’ll see in the new Calatrava Ref. 7200/200R.
Rolex lovers can find an expansive range of offerings, including such 2016 introductions as the new Cosmograph Daytona, Pearlmaster 39, and Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40, in the Tourneau-operated Rolex store at 510 Madison Avenue. This location will repair your Rolex too.
It’s hard to beat Vacheron Constantin’s historic client list with such names as Napoleon and Edward VIII. The brand’s many exclusive offerings include the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260, which the company says is the most complicated watch in the world (priced over $10 million, according to some estimates). Shop the New York store (729 Madison Avenue; vacheron-
constantin.com) for the latest exclusive releases, including the Overseas Automatic 4500V and new Patrimony and Harmony models. There’s a watchmaker on-site to service the brand’s watches.
A favorite location for buying premium timepieces, Wempe (700 Fifth Avenue; wempe.com) recently expanded its New York property on the corner of 55th Street, creating more than double its original space for showcasing exclusive watchmakers, among them Panerai, Chopard, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Roger Dubuis and Tag Heuer. Patek Philippe and Rolex now have their own salons in the revamped store.