Madison Avenue might still be synonymous with advertising, thanks in part to the spotlight the hit AMC show “Mad Men” brought to the north-south avenue that runs from 23rd Street to 142nd Street, but it is the 29 blocks between 57th Street and 86th Street that bring the bling to New York City’s most fashionable neighborhood. It is here that the world’s most luxurious and recognizably haute labels have boutiques, in the mix with the chicest department stores, art galleries, swank cafes and restaurants. Not to mention the exclusive hotels like the Plaza Atheneé, The Lowell, The Carlyle, The Mark, and The Regency around the corner on Park Avenue. Madison Avenue is also home to jewelry retailers with illustrious credentials and historic legacies that draw well-heeled clients from all over; stores like Fabergé, Asprey, Fred Leighton and Georg Jenson, to name just a tiny sample. Madison Avenue is also a draw for aficionados of high end timepieces who fetishize every single detail of a watch’s design, right down to the type style used on the face. Just as the fashion industry has two weeks each year to showcase the designers of ready-to-wear and haute couture, Madison Avenue Watch Week, which kicked off on April 13th and will run through the 20th, is the 6th annual showcase of haute horlogerie.
Thirteen of the world’s premiere watch retailers and brands preview their newest and most exceptional timepieces that recently debuted at Baselworld and SIHH in Switzerland. Open to the public, premier watch brands are welcoming enthusiasts and collectors with special events and offerings during business hours in the participating Madison Avenue stores. Many of the timepieces are on view for the first time in North America; Fabergé is showcasing, direct from Baselworld, the Grand Prix winning Lady Compliquée Peacock and the men’s Visionnaire Flying Tourbillion watch. Chopard flew in a special collection of high-end watches from Geneva, and Hublot followed suit. A Tourbillion Retrospective of unique watches will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of F.P. Journe’s first Tourbillion, Jaeger-LeCoultre is hosting a series of watchmaking classes and A. Lange & Söhne will feature a 2016 Novelty Exhibition accompanied by beer and pretzels. Timepiece launches will be unveiled at Asprey, de Grisogono, Frey Wille, Montblanc, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai, and Diesel.
Visitors to the city, and those of us who dwell here year round, ought not be discouraged from heading over to Madison Avenue for a stroll up and down the thoroughfare and checking out the watches even if not in the market for an elegant wristwatch. The stores welcome browsing, and in most cases, just stepping though the door is like being transported into another time, no pun intended. At Vacheron Constantin, a master watch tech works at a desk on an upper balcony and a little further up the avenue, at A. Lange & Söhne, there is a replica of a Tourbillion Cage, the components that go into creating the precise timekeeping of a Tourbillion watch. Stepping from the busy street into Fabergé, one immediately gets a buzz of what it must have felt like for the Russian aristocracy during a bygone age of elegance and opulent style. Across the street from Fabergé, Diesel brings you right back into the hip mode with huge and high tech time pieces for men and women. Afterwards, pop into Bar Seine at The Plaza Athénée for an espresso and a croissant.