A watch guy since my teenage years, I’ve bought and sold several and, over the years, gained an appreciation for the artistry and engineering wizardry inside the mechanical marvels. Sure, I have my favorite models and brands but what makes watches so exciting to me is discovering something new. Horology has a long history. Breguet introduced the first wristwatch in 1810 and since then, hundreds of legacy brands and upstarts have pushed the limits to create new complications, employ new materials and realize new designs.
For a lot of watch people living outside of New York, Las Vegas, Geneva or other watch meccas, most of the discovery these days happens online. Its way more convenient that waiting on the next print edition of a watch magazine like in the old days but even online, you can’t experience the watch on your wrist and have that moment where you know with 100% certainty that the model you’ve been dreaming about is, in fact, your perfect watch. Chasing a grail online is one thing but holding it in your hand, feeling the weight and balance, admiring the craftsmanship and finally, securing it around your wrist is an entirely different experience. Even better is being able to compare a few – or dozens – of watches side by side with the expert insights and stories of the passionate people on the other side of the counter.Let’s start there.
I usually don’t like dealing with salespeople, especially when I’m just browsing around early in the decision process. In a watch store, you can look all day long but unless you’ve got someone on the other side of the counter, you can’t touch. King has done an exceptional job of assembling a team of watch experts who know the stories of the brands, understand the watches, and clearly have passion for what they’re selling. Mark helped me on my first visit. At first, I was cool and cagey but as we started talking and sharing stories, I felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend. Not only was he incredibly knowledgeable – 35+ years in the watch business – but he was wearing a Jerry Garcia tie. A fellow Deadhead with a passion for watches. All we needed now was for John Mayer to show up.
Turns out everyone at King – Debbie, Derrick, Hugh — comes from the same mold. Well maybe not the Deadhead side but certainty the experience, passion and engagement. Even the uniformed security team of retired metro police officers know their watches and are happy to discuss what’s on their wrist or in the cases. Collectively, the King team is welcoming, and the store is comfortable for everyone from newbies to long-time collectors. I felt no pressure and after witnessing dozens of interactions between the staff and various customers, know that that’s the rule.Shop Honorable Mentions
I’ll dig deeper in subsequent entries on each brand and describe some of the standouts that have caught my eye. For now, though, picture yourself walking the streets of Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds or anywhere in the Watch Valley of Switzerland. The perimeter of King Jewelers is reflective of the region that headquarters horological royalty. You’ll find a huge selection of more than 60 pre-owned Rolexes directly opposite the entrance. Fair warning: the siren song of the Rolex case is strong. It draws you in and overwhelms with treasures like Subs, Pepsi and Batman GMTs, Presidents, Datejusts and Daytonas. You’ll find tons of options for men and women and some unique pieces like the Lady Datejust with a meteorite dial. It is truly out of this world.
From Rolex, look right to find IWCand Tudor, each with a full case loaded with product. Look left and you’ll find a great selection of other pre-owned gems from Patek, Cartier, Omega, Panerai, Corum and many others. King constantly buys pre-owned watches so you never know what will be in the case. Today, there was Omega Ploprof and a 36mm Roger Dubuis Excalibur…not something you see every day!
To the left of the pre-owned cases begins the journey up the Jura Mountains as you ascend to the heights of haute horology. Breitling and Raymond Weil are in the foothills, which quickly rise with H. Moser & Cie., Carl F. Bucherer and an amazing selection of Zenith timepieces. That would be enough, right?There’s more. A lot more.
Follow the next wall for an unbelievable display containing about two dozen Jaquet Droz watches then at least 40 Hublots and the same number of Chopards. You’ll find ten Happy Diamonds watches for ladies and a huge assortment of L.U.C and Mille Miglia for men. You may even detect a hint of vanilla emanating from the men’s side of the display. That’s some special Chopard aromatherapy from the Caoutchouc strap on the Mille Miglia GTS Automatic.
If you’re a Girard-Perregaux fan, the exclusive 1 of 20 limited edition Laureato Blue Index automatic will catch your eye and you’ll be transfixed by the sapphire case Laureato Absolute Light. Maybe you’re drawn to Longines, Bell & Ross or TAG Heuer. They’re all in store, including a couple of Monacos and several of the new BR 05 beauties that feel inspired by the Patek Phillipe Nautilus chronograph.
Keep going past the door to see Jaeger LeCoultre and Breguet. Make sure you take a close look at the Reverso Tribute Annual Calendar Duo. At 49mm x 29mm, it is substantial, gorgeous and fun. If rectangular JLCs aren’t your thing, the Master Control Perpetual Moonphase is a pink gold standout. The Breguet display is astonishing. It’s filled with Classiques, Type XXI and XXII chronographs and several beautiful ladies watches from the Reine de Naples collection. You will surely notice the rose gold Tradition independent chronograph with a precisely placed mirror to reflect the highly decorated movement that’s visible behind the exhibition caseback. A true work of art to cap off the first part of this tour.
I’ll explore the interior displays next with a trip to Japan before heading back to Switzerland.
About the Author
Bobby Frank is a freelance writer and musician based in Nashville. He’s been an avid watch collector since discovering a sample case full of early digital watches at his father’s office in the late 1970s. Current favorites include the Rolex Batman, Zenith Chronomatster and Girard-Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar. A timekeeper to his core, Bobby plays the drums in several bands that perform across the Southeast including Tennessee Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute band.
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