The Power to Choose, Editor’s Letter, April 2013

When I met Michelle Orman a dozen years ago, I don’t think either of us could have predicted that one day, I’d be editing the 2013 Power Issue of JCK and she’d be featured in it.

We were in our late 20s (just barely) and were equally new to the ­jewelry and watch trade, which seduced us with its flashy jewels, splashy events, and the flashier/splashier characters who peddled them. I can’t speak for Michelle, but I suspect she would agree with me: Back then, power was the least of my concerns. What I aspired to was competence.

Now that I’m approaching the big four-oh, I still value competence over power—especially when it comes to making bold declarations, like the names that appear alongside Michelle’s in our first-ever “20 Under 40” listing of young people making their mark on the industry.

Michelle Orman and me at WJA’s 2006 summer gala

The members of our 40-and-under cohort have packed a wealth of experiences into their years, but by all accounts, they’re just getting started. Check back with us in a decade and don’t be surprised if you find most of their names among the 50 people we’ve anointed the “Power Base,” aka the usual suspects—the titans of our industry who control fortunes, destinies, policies, and markets with their influence and smarts (check the list: A–M, and N–L).

Happily, you don’t need that kind of street cred to wield power during market week in Las Vegas. What you will need is insider knowledge—and on that note, we’ve got you covered. Check out contributor Tanya Dukes’ report on the much-­anticipated changes coming to Mandalay Bay this year. From the revamped rooms at the Four Seasons to the hotel’s thrilling new Cirque du Soleil show, the property has undergone an incredible renovation. Don’t delay on making reservations for your favorite restaurants and shows!

Speaking of renovations, don’t miss the story of how Sol and Scott Meller, the father-and-son owners of West Los Angeles’ Feldmar Watch Co., gave their 57-year-old store a 21st-century makeover. Scott was candid about the inspiration for the grueling, two-year overhaul, which threatened to leave staff members with jackhammer-inspired PTSD.

“Reality is perceived, especially in the luxury business,” Scott told JCK. “We knew that for the industry to not just sell us some watches but really showcase us as their prominent retailer, we needed to step it up.”

When you look at the timepieces featured in our annual watch spotlight, perhaps you’ll understand why watchmakers are so concerned about image. How can consumers be expected to shell out tens of thousands (even millions!) of dollars for a groundbreaking watch that isn’t marketed and merchandised in an equally luxe manner?

The short answer is, they can’t—which reminds me: We could debate the nature of power in this business all year long, but in the end, we all know who settles the score. Hint: They control the purse strings and the modern-day pulpit (i.e., Facebook, Yelp, Twitter), making their power damn near absolute.

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