November 2, 2012, 1:43am
At last month’s European Watch of the Year awards, hosted in London by 0024 WatchWorld magazine, the prize for the best watch between £8,000 and £25,000 was awarded to a brand most people will never have heard of. Francois-Paul Journe, whose Chronometre Souverain took the gong, makes fewer than 800 watches a year, each of them hand crafted in his Geneva atelier. The only place in the UK to find FP Journe’s watches is William & Son, the Mayfair boutique that has over the last few years been quietly carving a niche for itself as a very serious player in exclusive watches.
“We’re dealing with independent watchmakers who are extremely skilled and have small productions, and we’re providing them with a showcase in London,” says founder William Asprey. “We try and choose people who make everything themselves, who are passionate, put the time in on the finishing, and show real creativity on both the inside and the outside of a watch. You can’t do that if you’ve got a lower end or higher volume brand.”
The latest to join the party is Laurent Ferrier, the eponymous company founded by Patek Philippe’s former head of product development. Ferrier deals in a style that is even more understated than his former employer, though no less exquisite: a whisper of pure class, rather than a roar. Ferrier joins brands such as Romain Gauthier and De Bethune on William & Son’s roster of brands for purist collectors who prefer to take the road less traveled.
Meanwhile, with Bremont’s recently opened shop round the corner and Parmigiani opening across the road (see below), Mount Street is building its challenge to Bond Street’s high-end dominance. With the latter clogged for new business, expect more brands to join the fray.
10 Mount St, W1K 2TY