I attended the New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan on Friday, which was the first day of this four-day event. It was my first visit to the show, which is in its fourth year. I was excited to go to the exhibition because of my interest in antique and vintage watches, and must admit that out of the 129 dealers at the show, only ten or twelve had strong watch displays in their booths. The majority had astonishing jewelry for sale. If you are looking for beautiful antique jewelry, this is the show for you, but don’t let the ratio of watches to jewelry lead you to believe there aren’t many watches here. I saw wonderful timepieces of all ages and in a wide range of prices. It was well worth the visit!
My first stop was Royce Estate Buyers in booth 420. President Peter E. Planes II was behind the counter. His display was a collage of watches priced from under $1,000 to $75,000. He grouped his pieces by maker, or function with Patek Phillipe right on top. He expected to be busy over the weekend with retail shoppers. Friday is the day that watch dealers stop by to see what’s available. Many of his customers collect watches to wear, but are aware of the great investment classic watches make.
My next conversation was with Edward Faber of Aaron Faber and Patrizzi & Co Auctioneers in booth 307. This was their second time at the show. They enjoy attending an event like this because the visitors are focused and motivated to buy. This isn’t always the case at their 666 Fifth Avenue location, where there may be more browsing before a purchase is made, Faber reported. In addition to sales, Faber can also offer auction services to customers who want to sell timepieces through Patrizzi Auctioneers. First we spoke about how to classify collectible watches. Antique watches were created before 1935, while vintage watches were made between 1935 and 1985. Anything newer is considered contemporary. Faber recommends that any watch being considered for purchase be triple signed, which is signed on the dial, case and movement. These basics being established, I was shown the ideal New York antique watch. Created by Tiffany, this engine turned timepiece was presented by William Rockefeller, Henry H. Rogers and John G. Moore to their lawyer Eicks with their esteem in 1895. Standard Oil was big business in the 1890’s and these are some of the major players. The watch is in an 18K rose gold case, with a repeater movement, which will strike the time to the minute on gongs when a lever is pressed. Besides their “cool” factor, repeaters are practical if you need to tell time in the dark, or without having to look down at the watch. At $17,000 this watch seemed like a bargain. Given its provenance it seemed like a steal.
My last stop was at Cohen & Pariser Ltd in booth 210. I spoke with Zeisel Cohen about the amazing jewelry she had on display. A large diamond and platinum butterfly brooch by Carvin French drew me in. Priced at one million dollars, it was the most expensive object I touched at the show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to photograph the piece. Next I was attracted to another brooch, this time a vintage piece by Cartier. A diamond set of leaves, surmounted by a precious stone flower. This piece came with two extra flower heads, so the owner could change the look for different occasions. Priced at $285,000 it was the second most expensive piece I touched at the show.
Many high-end antique shows in New York allow the dealers to create environments for their merchandise. The displays here are much more uniform, with rows of display cases holding their precious offerings. This is practical and secure. It allows visitors to see the most merchandise with ease. It lacks romance, but once you look down into a case and see the object of your dreams, all that is forgotten.
The Antique Jewelry and Watch Show is presented every July in New York. It is produced by GLM, which also presents shows in Miami and Las Vegas.
David Sokosh is the owner of Clinton Hill Clocks in Brooklyn, NY