8569 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.
The Sunset Strip is home to celebrity haunts like Chateau Marmont, legendary rock clubs like Whisky a Go Go, and, as of late last year, the new flagship outlet of the high-end watch retailer Westime. “The exterior is inspired by Mel’s Diner next door,” Greg Simonian, fourth-generation president of Westime, says of the cantilevered building beside the midcentury-style eatery. Now Los Angeles shoppers can duck out of traffic, park in back (courtesy of a shared valet with Mel’s), and explore 6,600 square feet filled with the finest watches from around the world, from one-of-a-kind, high-end creations to more affordable timekeepers.
A GALLERY-STYLE DISPLAY
Westime gutted a former Club Monaco store, built a new staircase, and crafted angled walls, says Simonian, “to match the angles of the exterior.” It kept the polished concrete floors to lend the place the stylish-casual feel of a gallery in which each work of art speaks for itself. “We wanted it to be about the watches and not about individual brands competing with brand messaging inside our store. A customer can browse from one brand to another in a nice flow,” he says.
FOR THE SERIOUS WATCH COLLECTOR (WATCHES AND CIGARS AND SCOTCH, OH, MY!)
The brand messages don’t compete with one another but they do have their say. Up the center stairs is a mezzanine, where a few high-end brands have exclusive areas, including Richard Mille and Buben & Zorweg, which shows off its floor-to-ceiling safes that double and quadruple as watch-winders, cigar humidors, Scotch bars, and hi-fis. These six-figure treasures can be customized for purchase and are meant for the serious watch collector who, Simonian says, “already has the basics. We know who our customer is and what they want. Some want a more tailored experience, a bit private, so we have areas in the store where a client can relax, linger, enjoy a beverage and take their time considering a watch purchase.”
AND FOR THE CASUAL CUSTOMER
Simonian, one of this issue’s “20 Under 40” honorees, has made it his life’s work to support “independent horology” (that’s noncorporate watchmaking to you and me). But don’t let that intimidate you. “At the same time,” he says, “we sell something for everybody.” Okay, almost everybody: The store carries more than 50 brands of watches, including some (like Nixon) that cost as little as $200. “When selecting a brand to carry at Westime, I make sure it represents an original idea and concept and that the business is here to stay. I have no interest in selling an independent brand that isn’t going to be around tomorrow,” he says.
THEY KNOW HOW TO PARTY
What good is a flagship store on Sunset Boulevard if you don’t know how to throw a party? Don’t worry—Westime has that covered. The store opened as the holiday season was in full swing last December and took full advantage of the timing by hosting events three nights in a row. On Thursday night, there was a cocktail party cohosted by Los Angeles Confidential magazine; on Friday night, the celebration continued with a VIP Scotch master class, featuring Macallan and Highland Park Scotch whiskies; and on Saturday, the store threw open its floor-to-ceiling doors to roll in some Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, and Lamborghinis for guests to ogle as they sampled treats from the famous West Hollywood restaurant The Little Door. “The events help explain an aspect of who we are,” says Simonian. “Plus, they’re fun for me and the customers!”
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