When it comes to luxury watches, the time is right for sparkle and shine. “We’re seeing a lot of feel-good purchases as people are starting to realize that we’re coming to an almost adjusted normal again,” says Zach Udell, vice president of London Jewelers, the venerable family-owned jewelry and watch retailer. “There are weddings, big events, life moments that are actually happening in-person, and that’s even more of a reason to celebrate after living through a year and a half of the unknown.”
Anticipating a brighter future, Udell says watches featuring precious metals and diamond details are making a strong comeback.
Those include the gold Rolex Day-Date with a splashy diamond dial, a Patek Philippe Nautilus that is “fully pavé from dial to bezel to bracelet,” and the Bulgari Serpenti, which slithers around the wrist in rose gold and diamonds.
Women are making distinctive style statements, he says, by layering their Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bulgari bracelets on the same arm as their sparkling timepieces. “There are no rules; you can mix and match and just have fun.”
While flashier watches are gaining in popularity, there’s also a palpable quest for newness. Udell cites this year’s Rolex Eisenkiesel, whose dial is made with — yes — eisenkiesel, a type of chocolatey quartz with red, orange and yellow veining. “It’s so unique and fresh,” says Udell. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Equally in demand are sporty-yet-superluxe pieces, such as a sophisticated openwork Audemars Piguet in black ceramic or Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut collection, which features substantial composite straps with matching faces. (The women’s style offers the brand’s Travel Time quartz movement, while the men’s showcases its first white-gold chronograph.) “We’re getting incredible requests for these watches,” says Udell. “They’re mechanical pieces of art that you wear on your wrist.”
Watchmakers are also reaching back to their roots. Udell points to Cartier’s relaunch of its iconic and glamorous Tank and Bulgari’s latest twist on its classic Octo: “They keep updating it and modernizing — it’s a signature.” Inspired by a pocket watch designed in 1972, Patek Philippe recently introduced its groundbreaking In-Line Perpetual Calendar watch in a platinum case with a striking blue gradient dial.
Speaking of color, there are joyous bursts of every shade in the rainbow, but “green is the It color, whether you’re a man or woman,” says Udell. One style of the new Rolex Datejust 36 features an unusual olive-green palm-leaf motif on the dial. Bulgari offers emerald-green dials on a number of models. And Patek Philippe’s Aquanaut, with its khaki-green band and face, is one of the brand’s most sought-after pieces.
But even more important than the sparkle of a watch is what it symbolizes. “You always remember the story of when you got it, how you got it and who you got it from,” Udell reflects. Among his own talismans (he and his cousins Randi Udell Alper and Scott Udell are the fourth generation guiding the family business) is the watch his great-grandfather Charles London, who founded London Jewelers in 1926, gave to his grandfather, Mayer Udell, for his engagement. “My grandfather taught me at the bench when I was in high school,” says Udell. “We shared a passion for watches, and I’ll always treasure this one.”
London Jewelers’ flagship (top) is located in Manhasset, LI, with additional stores in Southampton, East Hampton, Glen Cove, and Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, LI, as well as downtown Manhattan.
London Jewelers’ VP Randi Udell Alper on sleek watches for chic women
“The classic Pasha is back! This design will never go out of style and is one we all need in our jewelry box.”
“Its sleek design combines the look of jewelry with the utility of a timepiece. This watch can take you from day to night depending on the other pieces you style it with.”
“The green dial version of this watch has been highly sought after since its introduction, and the blue dial has also been becoming more and more popular. It’s a great alternative to the harder-to-get Aquanaut and Nautilus models.”
“There is truly nothing like a Rolex Daytona! It’s the epitome of luxury you can wear on your wrist.”
London Jewelers’ VP Scott Udell shares his favorite fresh finds for guys
“The larger 41 mm model of the new Oyster Perpetual is a great entry-level watch for Rolex, with dials that come in lush colors like coral red, mustardy yellow, navy — and I like the olive green, which is hard to get. The rarity factor is fueling a real desire.”
“Audemars Piguet has started making ceramic pieces for men that are downtown-cool and feature skeleton movements. Those are definitely next on my list.”
“We’ve seen a real demand recently for Patek Philippe Annual Calendars, and in particular the Reference 5205. Although traditionally this would be considered a dressier watch, the cool skeletonized lugs give it a sporty feel, and the white-gold blue dial is extremely versatile.”
“This sister brand of Rolex is a great everyday wear-and-tear watch — it’s definitely sporty — and somebody can enjoy it and pass it on to the next generation.”
All watches available at London Jewelers, 2046 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, LI.