Around the Web: Rolex in Wartime, Baume & Mercier’s Holiday Video, & More

Rolex_thumbnailWelcome to the second installment of “Around the Web,” where WatchTime social media maven Alan Loren delivers some of the most interesting watch-related stories and news tidbits of recent weeks, culled from the websites of your favorite brands as well as some of the most popular watch blogs and lifestyle media.  This week we’ve homed in on two very special articles from The New York Times and Daily Telegraph, and news from the worlds of Baume & Mercier, Ulysse Nardin and Bovet.


1. An old time watchmaker finally shuts his doors

On Friday of last week, Sal Branco, a master watchmaker for the past 65 years, packed his tools for the last time and closed shop in a shared jewelers’ space in the Bowery, Manhattan’s former skid row. With that came the end of an era that started when Mr. Branco was just a child.

Michael Appleton for The New York Times
Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times

The New York Times did a lovely piece last week on Sal that is definitely worth a read. One quote in particular stood out for us.  When asked what initially drew him to the profession, Mr. Branco answered, “Nothing, I was making a living.”

Sometimes, basic necessity brings out the best in us.  You can view the article by clicking here.


2. From the “New Openings” department

Two venerable Swiss watch brands have recently opened boutiques at the same upscale New York hotel, and the web is abuzz (and here).

Le Locle-based Ulysse Nardin, and Fleurier-based Bovet have both set up shop at the Ritz Carlton Central Park South, just yards away from New York’s shopping Mecca, Fifth Avenue.

Ulysses Nardin Boutique Opening Twitter Announcement
Ulysses Nardin Boutique Opening Twitter Announcement

For Ulysse Nardin, the store, which launched in November of this year, is its third “mono-brand” boutique in the United States.  Bovet’s boutique opened its doors earlier this month.  It is the brand’s fourth global boutique.

Ulysse Nardin boutique at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
Ulysse Nardin boutique at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South

The Ulysse Nardin Limited Edition Boutique line of timepieces includes the Blue Toro, the Boutique Freak Diavolo, the Blue Executive Dual Time, and the Boutique Diver. The company has announced that it also plans to introduce several exclusive new men’s complications.

Bovet 1822 boutique at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South
Bovet boutique at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South

Bovet’s offerings at the new store include a collection of 50 timepieces, unique to the New York address, that have been engraved to celebrate the opening. They will not be sold anywhere else in the world.

Mr. Pascal Raffy, head of Bovet 1822, cutting the ribbon
Pascal Raffy, head of Bovet (second from right), cutting the ribbon

Now watch lovers have two more reasons to visit New York City for the holidays!


3. Founder of Rolex gave watches to war prisoners who lost their own  (but asked them to pay later)

We just found a MUST-READ piece on the Telegraph online (out of the UK).

Writer  ties historic events to the re-sale value of watches in this highly entertaining article. While this connection might seem obvious to some, the examples she provides to illuminate her points are very instructive.

For example, did you know that Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, bequeathed watches to allied prisoners of war held by the Germans, whose own timepieces were misappropriated by the Reich.  Although the watches were provided on condition that the  prisoners pay for them on cessation of hostilities, it was a remarkable sign of trust (or perhaps good business?) in an otherwise dark period.

Former Stalag Luft 3 F/Lt Gerald Imeson's Rolex
Former Stalag Luft 3 F/Lt Gerald Imeson’s Rolex

One of these watches (see above), owned by a former British prisoner of Stalag Luft III prison camp (inspiration for the film “The Great Escape“), recently sold for $82,000 (US) at auction in London.  A piece without its pedigree would have fetched half that price.


 Ms. Beugge provides numerous examples that shed light on how one can prudently invest in selected watches that will likely maintain their value.  Read it right here.

For those of you interested in pursuing the historical side of the story further, click here and here.


4. Baume & Mercier introduces the first in a series of short films called “Celebrate Giving”

Have you seen the new holiday film from Baume & Mercier?  It is called “Home for the Holidays” and is the first in a series of short films by the brand that will appear under the rubric “Celebrate Giving.”  The full series will roll out in 2014.

The introductory offering was unveiled at the end of November, and in keeping with the theme of the series, it celebrates the old maxim, “It is better to give, than to receive.”

We think it is a perfect complement to the holiday season.  But don’t take our word for it. You can view it below.


Until next week, enjoy, and Happy Holidays from WatchTime!


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