Watch-Lovers Are Seeing Jewelry with New Eyes

Industry journalist Eleonor Picciotto has teamed up with The 1916 Company to give timepiece aficionados a gateway to jewels.

April 2, 2024  |  Rachael Taylor

Can one make direct comparisons between jewelry designers and watch brands? Eleonor Picciotto believes so, and this idea was the jumping-off point for a recent collaboration between her platform — The Eye of Jewelry — and retail group The 1916 Company, which consists of timepiece sellers WatchBox, Govberg Jewelers, Radcliffe Jewelers and Hyde Park Jewelers.

The aim of the team-up was to help horology connoisseurs better appreciate jewels. What started out as a conversation between WatchBox executive chairman Danny Govberg and Picciotto about her creating some content for the group morphed into a touring jewelry exhibition with a three-year business plan, and with the writer running the project.

“The meeting was supposed to last 40 minutes; it lasted six-and-a-half hours,” she laughs.

Four stars

Picciotto is perfectly positioned to create jewelry-watch parallels. Besides being a jewelry expert, she is also a watch journalist and Revolution magazine’s editor-at-large.

The exhibition, which took place in November and December of last year, featured the works of four jewelers, juxtaposing them with timepieces from brands that Picciotto considered a match. “New cool kid” Alexandra Rosier equates to watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi, says Picciotto, while “futuristic” designer Elie Top is the MB&F of jewelry. Suzanne Syz’s skill with color and titanium is comparable to watch brand De Bethune, she suggests, and designer Selim Mouzannar’s ability to “take everything to another level” makes him the jewelry equivalent of Philippe Dufour.

“In working with Eleonor, we are bringing together the talent, artistry, culture and global perspectives of four prolific designers,” says Govberg. “Content and context are everything when it comes to the emotional connections we form with watches. We constantly seek opportunities to bring collectors behind the scenes, tapping into the minds of the industry’s greatest watchmakers, and with this exhibition, we’re extending the spotlight to the jewelry realm.”

Elie Top Pluton earrings with diamonds in 18-karat gold and distressed silver. (Elie Top)

Bridging two worlds

While it might be too hopeful to imagine that The 1916 Company’s largely male watch collectors would suddenly shift to buying jewels, it isn’t hard to believe that a better understanding of what makes jewelry special might make them more receptive when their other halves buy it.

“It’s a very binary reflection, but at the end of the day, it’s true,” remarks Picciotto. Men are “not as ready to spend [as much as a watch] on a piece of jewelry, [but] when you come with a parallel that’s [two or] three times less expensive [and still has] the same wow effect, craftsmanship and storytelling put into it, then it’s a magical recipe.”

The magic also worked on The 1916 Company’s sales staff, who had little technical understanding of jewelry before the exhibition. “They had no problem talking about the biggest [horological] complication in the world, but when you speak about setting stones, it’s as if I spoke Chinese,” recalls Picciotto.

The first round of exhibitions took place at WatchBox stores in Miami and New York and at a Radcliffe Jewelers store in Baltimore, Maryland. Picciotto was pleased with the sales. The road show will be back, she says, and will likely be a regular feature. Also in the pipeline is Picciotto’s first jewelry collection, which will be exclusive to The 1916 Company.

Main image: Model wearing Selim Mouzannar gem-set Mina rings. (Selim Mouzannar)

This article is from the March-April 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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Watch-Lovers Are Seeing Jewelry with New Eyes

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