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Madison Avenue Watch Week Returns With Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Apple and Others, After Pandemic Hiatus

The five-day event features master watchmakers, workshops, the latest timepiece innovations, special viewings and receptions.

Madison Avenue Watch Week Returns With Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Apple and Others, After Pandemic Hiatus

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Duometre Chronograph Moon timepiece.

After a four-year hiatus, the time is right for another Madison Avenue Watch Week.

The Madison Avenue Watch Week was last held in 2019, and subsequently put on hold due to the pandemic which kept people at home and forced many businesses on Madison Avenue and across the country to close either temporarily or permanently.

But now people are back shopping stores, seeking fun, informative and different kinds of brick-and-mortar experiences, and watch aficionados are eager to learn about innovations in the sector. In addition, over the past couple of years, there’s been a spate of store, gallery and restaurant openings along Madison Avenue, bolstering the venue’s reputation as a epicenter for luxury, inclusive of those sumptuous, technically advanced and often coveted watches.

As in the past, this year’s edition of Madison Avenue Watch Week is expected to draw hundreds of watch collectors and connoisseurs, as well as a good number of master watchmakers — some flying in from Europe — and others just eager to get out, roam the avenue and check out the newest timepieces and stores.

“There is a genuine fascination with luxury watches. People are so interested in the production process, the handiwork, the details,” said Matt Bauer, the president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District which organized Watch Week along with WWD. “There are people that are truly dedicated to learning every aspect about what’s new in luxury watches and how they’re made.”

Madison Avenue Watch Week Returns With Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Apple and Others, After Pandemic Hiatus

A. Lange & Söhne watchmaker at work.

Madison Avenue Watch Week kicks off Tuesday with opening night receptions and runs through May 4. It’s the 10th time the annual Watch Week is being held. Discussions, workshops, demonstrations, product introductions and special viewings are all part of the program. Twelve watch stores on Madison Avenue between 57th Street and 75th Street are participating. Watch Week is part of the Madison Avenue BID’s robust schedule of events and activities through the year, among them the Gallery Walk, the Metropolitan Opera festival, and a celebration of the Chinese New Year. The Madison Avenue BID has even staged “Shop With Your Dog” days for the combined purposes of encouraging people to adopt dogs, supporting the Humane Society of New York, and like the BID events, lifting shopper traffic along the city’s toniest and most fashionable venue.

For the first time for Watch Week, the Madison Avenue BID is collaborating with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie to stage the event. According to its website, FHH was founded in 2005 by Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux and the Richemont Group and is a not-for-profit organization that promotes “watchmaking culture, and positions the watch as an object of art and culture.”

Watch Week is also partnering with the Horological Society of New York and RedBar. The Horological Society of New York was founded in 1866 and is also a nonprofit “dedicated to advancing the art and science of horology through education.” RedBar is a watch collectors club that meets regularly in New York.

In addition, WatchBox, a setting for selling pre-owned, vintage watches, and Element iN Time, which sells new and pre-owned watches, are participating. Both are located in the Fuller Building, at 57th Street and Madison Avenue.

“With watches, it’s really a reason why you would come to a store,” said Bauer. “You need to see them in person. You want to touch them and have that visceral connection, and that’s what Madison Avenue Watch Week is all about.”

Madison Avenue Watch Week Returns With Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Apple and Others, After Pandemic Hiatus

Matthew Bauer

Bauer added that part of the impetus for bringing Watch Week back is because watch brands and other businesses, including designer stores, restaurants and galleries, have reinvested in Madison Avenue since the pandemic. He pointed out that in the watch category, A. Lange & Söhne opened in October 2023 at 709 Madison Avenue and Panerai opened in June 2023 at 711 Madison Avenue. In addition, IWC Schaffhausen is opening during Watch Week at 645 Madison Avenue, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, located at 701 Madison Avenue, doubled in size this month.

After seeing a surge of vacancies, many even before the pandemic, Madison Avenue has been rebounding now for about two-and-a-half years. In a January 2024 report, the BID indicated that 20 projects including designer stores, hotels and restaurants are to be completed this year and into 2025, on top of the 32 businesses that opened during the second half of 2023. The Madison Avenue BID extends from East 57th to East 86th streets along Madison Avenue and blocks just to the east and west of the avenue. In the second half of 2022, there were 29 shop openings along Madison Avenue between 57th and 86th streets.

According to Bauer, the most recent wave of openings is different. “One of the things that distinguished those that have recently opened, pardon the pun, is that they are places to spend time in. Each have spaces or lounge areas where you can really be immersed in the brand, its designs and its history.”

Bauer also believes that staging Watch Week has a halo effect up and down the avenue. “The watch collections really bring so many new clients to the avenue, and then they discover all the things that are here from the fashion collections and restaurants to the galleries and the like.”

He expects to see more women attending Watch Week, which in the past has been dominated by male participants. “We have brands that will be highlighting collections for women,” said Bauer. “There is a stronger focus on women in watches in an industry that has been male-oriented.”

In another twist this year, Davide Cenci will stage an “off the cuff” fashion show at the brand’s townhouse at 1041 Madison Avenue featuring Cenci’s tailored menswear collection paired with vintage watches curated by Element iN Time.

Madison Avenue Watch Week Returns With Breitling, Ralph Lauren, Apple and Others, After Pandemic Hiatus

The Buccellati Tulle watch in white gold set with diamonds, priced $93,000.

Among other highlights of the upcoming Madison Avenue Watch Week:

  • The 1916 Company, the collectible watch and fine jewelry company formed through last year’s merger of WatchBox, Govberg, Radcliffe and Hyde Park Jewelers, will present exclusive F.P. Journe and De Bethune Watches & Wonders exhibitions as well as F.P. Journe and De Bethune education sessions with Jack Forster, George Mayer and Tim Mosso.
  • A. Lange & Söhne will provide the opportunity to learn about the history of the brand while experiencing the craftsmanship of watchmakers flown in from Glashütte, Germany, through a live demonstration on one of its in-house movements and a dialog with one of its own watchmakers. By appointment only.
  • Apple will curate Today at Apple Watch sessions. Participants can learn ways to personalize and utilize for their business. By appointment.
  • Breitling Boutique celebrates its 140th anniversary with a special vintage collection of watches that highlight the brand’s innovation through the decades.
  • Buccellati will share its extraordinary timepiece history and present a special showing in its gallery setting.
  • Element iN Time NYC will display its vast collection of vintage and modern timepieces from assorted Swiss manufacturers. By appointment.
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre offers a series of watchmaking masterclasses led by an expert watchmaker. Participants will be able to practice skills of traditional watchmaking with the opportunity to bring a timepiece to life by assembling a mechanical movement. Reservation required.
  • Montblanc celebrates the beginning of Madison Avenue Watch Week and invites watch connoisseurs to discover its curated collection of 2024 Watch Novelties. Book a private appointment with a Montblanc watch specialist.
  • Ralph Lauren will have on view a specially curated timepiece collection.
  • IWC Schaffhausen will present a panel discussion on “How a watch stays eternally relevant,” for an exploration of the IWC Portugieser, one of the brand’s oldest and best known watches, and how it has remained an icon for 85 years, as well as private, small-group product presentations of the newest timepieces just unveiled at Watches and Wonders, the trade fair that is held in Geneva.