By Rachel Garrahan in New York
Fred Leighton's first men's collection takes old-fashioned pocket watches and reimagines them as contemporary, wearable wristwatches for today's man of style. Renowned for its extraordinary collection of vintage and estate jewelry, Fred Leighton has tuned into the art of time.
Think pocket watches and you probably picture Lord Grantham pulling one out of his waistcoat on Downtown Abbey. With today's multi-functional smart watches and the preference for modern, casual dress, the pocket watch is viewed as an outdated and impractical way to keep track of the time.
Using its expert eye, however, the Madison Avenue estate jewelry house responded to client demand for men's watches and restored and repurposed its collection of vintage pocket watches for a new generation.
"We have a large male clientele, and we often get asked for watches," says Greg Kwiat, Fred Leighton's chief executive. Featuring movements from prestigious watchmakers like IWC Schaffhausen and Ulysse Nardin, these wonderful pieces of history have been made new again.
The distinctive slanted watch face of many of the one-of-a-kind collectibles gives them a modern look, a stylish by-product of the crown commonly being set at the top or bottom of the dial.
In addition to the converted pocket watches, Fred Leighton has also launched a selection of vintage watches. Greg explains that the pieces, dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, have been carefully curated to offer consumers a rare piece of history: "It has to represent for its style or time period something special, desirable and unique," he says. The selection of vintage watches, which includes a rare 1980s Rolex watch with a co-branded Tiffany dial and an elegant 1937 Vacheron Constantin watch, is available exclusively at the Fred Leighton store on Madison Avenue in New York.
Fred Leighton converts pocket watches to wristwatches. Pictured here are three models by Elgin, Zenith and Jules Jurgensen from the Art Deco period.
Vintage wristwatches restored by Fred Leighton include models like this Vacheron Constantin chronograph, circa 1937, a gold Art Deco tonneau-shaped watch by Patek Philippe, circa 1923 and a yellow gold Ovettone Roulette Date wristwatch by Rolex, circa 1950s.
Art Deco Tonneau gold watch by Patek Philippe, circa 1923, restored by Fred Leighton.
Movado for Cartier yellow gold cushion-shaped wristwatch, circa 1940s, restored by Fred Leighton of New York.