Last week I had the luxury of spending two days with Carlos A. Rosillo, CEO of Bell & Ross, and his team to do a company profile on the haute brand.
On Friday, I had the luxury of spending most of the day in the Place Vendôme area, which is one of the most spectacular places in the world to shop for fine timepieces. The first spot I had to visit was a little outside of Place Vendôme but nearby—the famous store Colette. The first thing I noticed was a stunning Ikepod clock in the store front, which we featured on Haute Time post-Basel World 2012.
The selection was amazing, but the buying experience was chaos. Buyers flooded the store and aloof salesmen didn’t do the fine timepieces justice. I was not able to take pictures inside, but I saw a few pieces from Hublot, one Audemars Piguet, Romain Jerome, Bell & Ross, Ikepod, Girard-Perregaux and a selection of Rolex watches in steel stained with black.
When I left Colette I walked around the district and stumbled upon the Audemars Piguet boutique as well as that of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Hublot. You also have Chopard, Omega and de Grisogono in the same district. All of these boutiques were next to the Mandarin Oriental, Paris, which I stopped in at. This is a prestigious hotel, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking five-star style.
As I walked to the hub, I stopped into Richard Mille and got to meet the store manager, who spoke French, Russian and English. She is very knowledgeable about watches, and she let me try on the Bubba Watson RM038. This piece is special, as it is worth over $500,000, and to have on the wrist is frankly an otherworldly feeling. The look and feel of the watch is one-of-a-kind and is precisely what makes Richard Mille such a unique timepiece manufacturer.
On my walk I noticed the famous Jaeger-LeCoultre Tourbillon clock outside, which is amazing and something you have to experience in person to truly realize the impact. Every top brand, from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier and Piaget to Hublot, Breguet, Blancpain, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dior and even Swatch had an outpost in this area. This area is next to the Ritz Paris, which is one of the top luxury hotels in the city.
Then, on a street by Place Vendome, you have a slew of even more stores, including Jaquet Droz, Panerai and Montblanc. This street is next to the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, which is another great hotel and obviously a great spot to stay in the area.
Part of the lure of France is the shopping. That being said, the access to luxury timepiece boutiques in France is something that does not get enough credit. These fine timepieces are everywhere: they’re showcased inside of luxury hotels, in Co-Op stores and in namesake boutiques. Paris is definitely a power player in the worldwide timepiece industry, and Place Vendome is one of the most special places in the world for luxury watches, something I was able to learn first hand.