This week in New York City, top retailers and watch brands celebrate in style during the seventh annual Madison Avenue Watch Week. The event is a weeklong open house for New York visitors and residents to get up close and personal with some of the top retail stores on Madison Avenue. For watch brands with boutiques located on that high-stakes street (between 57th and 86th streets), this event is a chance to showcase the newest timepieces were unveiled earlier in the year at the various shows. Many of these watches have not yet been seen in the United States.
This year, participating in the event, which runs from May 8 through the 13, are brands such as A. Lange & Söhne, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, and Vacheron Constantin. Many of the participating brands are also offering seminars, watchmaking demonstrations and more.
Presented by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), Madison Avenue Watch Week is sponsored by The Wall Street Journal and supported by the Horological Society of New York. In fact, the Horological Society of New York is hosting the open-to-the-public “Watch Walk on Madison Avenue” on Tuesday May 9 at 10 am. The meeting place is Vacheron Constantin’s watch boutique (729 Madison Ave), and there will be multiple stops along the walking tour. A similar walking tour for watch “bloggers” is being held on Wednesday by BID.
As to the individual watch brand events, information can be found at www.madisonavenuewatchweek.com, where attendees can also register to attend the events. However, highlights run the gamut from Montblanc showcasing its auto-inspired TimeWalker watches, to Jaeger Lecoultre Watch 1980 Replica hosting by-invitation-only Master watchmaking classes to learn how to put together a movement, and A. Lange & Sohne – in typical German style – serving pretzels and beer and showcasing the Lange Haus concept. Focusing on the next generation of watchmakers, Vacheron-Constantin is holding a children’s watchmaking workshop in its boutique on Saturday, May 13.
The annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is, as the title would imply, a show predominantly made up of watchmakers producing watches that signify the top echelons of watchmaking. Six-figure price tags are a dime a dozen over the show floor. When I first watched the new Master Control Date with a sector dial in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s stall, I knew I needed to get some time with it on my wrist, but when every conversation I had with journalists, collectors, and other industry friends kept coming back into some $5,700 time-and-date watch, I knew we had something special on our hands.Openworked tourbillons and decimal dramatic watches are excellent, sure, but if we’re being honest, they are show pieces more than anything else. Very few will ever be made, and very few will ever actually be worn out-and-about. I’m not saying I don’t like these kinds of watches — I find them endlessly interesting and lust-worthy — just that I find watches such as this Jaeger-LeCoultre much more persuasive in the long run. The idea was to create a line of watches which represented the worth of pure, classic watchmaking, with a focus on simple aesthetics, functionality, hi-tech, and long-term performance. Together with the first collection of watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre started its “1,000 Hours Control” quality check program, which subjects finished watches into a six-week program of tests. This includes impacts, temperature fluctuations, motion through six positions, water resistance, and much more — it is all fairly standard stuff now (though six months is a great deal of time to get something like this), but in 1992 that was essentially unheard of.
Additionally, this year the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York has created a special public art installation called “A Moment in Time.” The exhibit, created by design students at SVA, features 16 different six-foot-tall (or wide) watch sculptures that commemorate certain moments.