In some ways, Bobby Yampolsky has never grown up. The intrepid business owner has turned a childhood of tinkering and obsessing with mechanical toys into ECJ Luxe, a string of luxury stores with locations in many of Florida’s wealthy enclaves. Given this, it’s no surprise that the ECJ Luxe in Boca Raton feels like a gigantic toy box. The store has floorspace devoted to everything from luxury watches and jewelry, to vintage slot machines and ultra-rare exotic cars. The store represents everything that Yampolsky has ever dreamed of owning. We got the chance to sit down with Yampolsky to talk about his favorite watch brands, the diverse set of goods available in his stores, and why hard work and dedication ultimately pays off extremely well.
So ECJ Luxe in Boca Raton isn’t your typical watch store…
Yes, we wanted to create an entirely unique shopping experience. A one-stop luxury stop if you will, where you can find anything from a super-rare timepiece, to a very special piece of jewelry, all the way through to a charter for a private flight, or exotic car.
And there’s a Ferrari in the middle of the store?
There’s always a super rare exotic on display provided by our luxury car partner, Ft. Lauderdale Collection. We also have a car expert on staff full-time, so whether somebody wants to put together a collection, sell a collection, or simply discuss cars in general; we always have that service available as well. We do a lot of collector’s gatherings and car shows in our venue as well. The store is an event venue just as much as it’s a store for jewelry, watches, cars and other luxury goods. The most important feature of our store is the VIP room inside our vault where every item there is $1 million and up.
Where does your passion for watches come from?
I’m enamored by mechanical things, and that extends to the watch industry. Mechanics is where it all began. When I see something mechanical from the turn of the century, whether it be a slot machine, or a horse racing machine or a vintage music box, it excites me.
Why was it important to open a store in Boca Raton?
Boca Raton is my hometown. This store has been a dream of mine for many years. I’ve always wanted to have everything I loved under one roof, all things that I dreamt about owning when I was a kid. I’m grateful that I can finally afford those things through hard work and dedication. Now that I have these things, I want to be able to display and trade them on a daily basis.
What are your thoughts on Bovet?
Bovet is a super-exclusive, high quality brand. They make a very limited number of pieces per year, only 2,000 worldwide. Bovet also personalizes watches for some of their clients, which is super-rare for a high-end brand to do these days.
What about HYT’s H2 line?
I think the H2 line is a great evolution for HYT. They are really stepping up their game and have cemented themselves as a true competitor in the ultra-complicated world. They’ve partnered up with the right people.
How do you feel about the Ulysse Nardin Stranger?
It’s one of the first modern musical watches that Ulysse Nardin has created. It’s a micro-music box on your wrist, which is a thing that very few companies could have successfully developed. Ulysse Nardin is known for creating innovative and unusual pieces like automated watches with moving figures on the dial. The Stranger wasn’t a surprise coming from them, and it’s magnificently executed.
What are your opinions on Audemars Piguet?
They are very aware of what people want. They’ve revolutionized the industry with the Royal Oak and they continue to be successful because they’re very focused on crafting a quality product. Their dedication to manufacturing and keeping the tradition of watchmaking alive is very important. They are one of the only family owned and operated brand still in the industry. The people that run that business today are the descendants of the Audemars Piguet founders. That makes them very unique.