The Best of NYC’s Pre-SIHH, Pre-Spring Previews

Last week’s trip to New York City was short but, thanks to the slew of events I managed to hit up during my two days in the city, very sweet. In the case of the two pre–Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie events, we were asked to respect press embargoes, which expire in December and January. I like the idea of looking ahead, but it’s tough to sit on good news! Let the teasing begin…

Fossil Group’s Spring 2015 Press Preview

It’s easy to forget just what a big juggernaut Fossil is in the watch business. The Dallas-based company’s watch portfolio spans 14 brands, from A/X Armani Exchange to Zodiac, representing a giant share of the licensed watch business (think DKNY, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and the unstoppable Michael Kors). This was the first Fossil press event I’ve ever been able to make. Ten brands were represented; each had its own display area styled with a few select timepieces from the spring 2015 collection. Bright colors, including numerous hot-pink models, were one easy-to-spot trend. My favorite was the cheeky Raver watch from Marc by Marc Jacobs. At a time when smartwatches seem to be attracting all the hype, the hot-pink silicone model reminded me why analog styles are still relevant: They’re simple, and they’re fun.

I couldn’t stop laughing at the Raver from Marc by Marc Jacobs. Where was this guy when I was clubbing up a storm in NYC circa 1999?

Piaget Pre-SIHH Breakfast

On Tuesday, Piaget held a breakfast presentation at the Park Hyatt, a sleek new hotel on 57th Street, where its big pre-SIHH talking piece, a men’s model from the brand’s iconic Altiplano collection, was under embargo until Dec. 5. The other two models they introduced are Black Tie “vintage reinterpretations,” after stylish pieces from the 1960s and 1970s, including an oval-shape jewelry watch worn by Jackie Onassis, and a men’s piece owned by Andy Warhol. Unembellished and simple, both models have a stark beauty. The men’s piece features a smooth black onyx dial, in sharp contrast to the ridges of its white gold case. The best part of the ladies’ piece is its fabric-like gold bracelet, directly welded on to the watch for a distinctive, seamless look. Groovy!

Courtesy Piaget

Traditional oval watches in 18k pink and white gold, each set with 24 diamonds, from Piaget’s pre-SIHH preview

Courtesy Piaget

Black Tie vintage inspiration in 18k white gold with black onyx dial, from Piaget’s pre-SIHH preview

IWC Schaffhausen Pre-SIHH Press Preview

From the Piaget event, I walked six blocks south to the fancy restaurant Le Bernardin, where IWC Schaffhausen CEO Georges Kern presided over a big press event featuring 25 new watches that will make their debut at SIHH. He spoke about the $42 million investment the company has made in a new manufacturing facility, which will open in Schaffhausen in 2016, and the brand’s focus on vertical integration. Alas, every watch they showed us at Le Bernardin is under embargo until January. After the presentation, we sat down for lunch, and I found myself at a table with Kern and several journalists.

One of the big topics of discussion was the lack of top-notch retailers in the United States—and how cities where wealthy people congregate (Jackson Hole, Wyo., for example) don’t have the kind of upscale jewelry stores where IWC is typically sold. It was an intriguing conversation. I wanted to stand up on behalf of American retailers and dispute the point of view, which reeked of European snobbery, but I couldn’t disagree with the upshot: Europe’s mid-tier cities all have at least two or three luxury retailers to serve their communities, whereas plenty of mid-tier American cities have, er, none.

Courtesy IWC Schaffhausen

IWC Schaffhausen CEO Georges Kern

McTeigue & McClelland NYC Press Day

On Wednesday, McTeigue & McClelland hosted a press day at its New York City showroom at 608 Fifth Ave., easily my favorite building in the Diamond District for its serene, almost patrician vibe (nothing like hustling and bustling 580 Fifth Ave.!). If you aren’t familiar with the brand, trust me—it’s a revelation. From Great Barrington, Mass., in the heart of the Berkshires, Walter McTeigue and Tim McClelland make some of the finest jewelry on the market today. McTeigue is a fourth-generation gemstone dealer and sources the exceptional diamonds and colored stones (like a 10 ct. padparadscha sapphire—no joke!) that McClelland uses in his designs. I’ve known them since my days at Couture International Jeweler, and I’ve been enamored of their work ever since.

Courtesy McTeigue & McClelland

A Flora ring from McTeigue & McClelland, featuring its signature touch, a luscious gemstone

Lauren Kaminsky’s Charm Bar

I closed out my visit with a Wednesday night LoveGold event at Beauty & Essex, a chic restaurant on the Lower East Side that’s fronted by a pawn shop curated by Lauren Kaminsky, aka GoldGirl. She blogs about gold jewelry for LoveGold.com and her own website, Pawn on the Cobb. As a third-generation pawn broker and vice president of New York City’s EZ Pawn Shop, Kaminsky is steeped in jewelry knowledge. Her grandfather founded Gem Pawnbrokers in 1947, and her father went into the pawn business in the mid ’90s.

Courtesy LoveGold.com

Lauren Kaminsky at the Charm Bar

Kaminsky’s newest venture is the Charm Bar, where she sells more than 300 one-of-a-kind vintage gold charms—like the cute sombrero I bought myself and now wear on a bracelet of turquoise beads. Olé!

My new sombrero charm and turquoise bead bracelet, c/o the Charm Bar