The Rare Watch Man: Episode 1

Continuing the story of how Roberto Chiappelloni’s 30-year-old business, Manfredi Jewels, became one the of leading watch stores in the world…

Roberto says he is happy to be back to work after a long time off in Italy and Switzerland. 

Knowing from his previous interviews that the Swiss are rare watch geniuses, Roberto is asked whether Italian men wear rare luxury watches.

He responds, “Italians have a love affair with mechanical things. of course, watches being one of their most desirable toys but cars. The two of them very often go together.”

Keeping with the theme of lifestyle, Roberto answers questions about men versus women and what they choose to portray who they are. 

Roberto is told that unlike women, men don’t have that many ways to show off. 

He is also told that it was heard, a rare watch is like a Porsche for the wrist. 

Roberto says “that’s a pretty good analogy but each individual has their own statement. It can be beautifully elegant and subdued or as loud as a Ferrari.”

Roberto is asked why mostly men wear and collect rare watches?

He says, “Men, boys, have a fascination with mechanical toys and these amazing watches, especially the ones which are relatively complicated, very often have 300 to 400 moving parts.” 

He goes on to say that some will tell you what phase the moon is in, time two events at a time, serve as a stop watch, a perpetual calendar, and self-adjust for leap year, etc. 

He says, men love those little things that some will say, “who the hell needs that?” Roberto says, well, “we do.”

Women will look at a man wearing a gorgeous watch and say “Wow, that is a beautiful watch.” Men who know rare and beautiful watches will look at a man wearing a great watch and say what?

Roberto responds that the dialogue would go something like, “Wow, that guy really knows watches, I can’t believe that’s a Rolex from 1948! It’s a GMT, they only made a few of those in rose gold. Oh my Gd, where did he get that?”

Roberto is asked, whether rare watch lovers are like rare car lovers. 

He says, yes very much so. “And very often, the price is comparable. If you watch Rafael Nadal play tennis, he’s wearing a watch that costs $800,000. How many cars are out there at that price?”

There are many men of impeccable grooming and what they portray as success, if they are sending a statement, are often very well made rare watches which can be very expensive or not.

They are basically saying, “Hey, here’s who I am.” Does that translate to their taste in cars and liquors?

Roberto says that “very often those luxury items tie in but I’ve had men who buy a watch a month and drive a totally normal car and walk to work. So, it’s not “oh my Gd, I have to have it all.”

He goes on to say, “We all have our passion and watches are really one of the few luxuries, or personal rewards is better, because it’s not always luxury… Very often the two go together but not always.”

Many women who aspire to have the original purses such as a Birkin etc. and cannot afford it often go to the knock- off market. Roberto is asked, “Does that happen often with men in the rare watch world?”

Roberto says, no. “Men want the authentic, they want the original, and if you dilute it a little or dissect it further you’ll see very often that they’ll buy a vintage timepiece that looks like hell but they don’t want it refinished or repolished because they want it to be authentic.”

He continues, “Men are into authentic. They will not sport something just for the hell of it and make believe it’s the real thing.”

The high-end watch market once went away and now its back and surging interest. Roberto is asked, “When you went to Europe did you see anything happening that you want to share?”

Roberto shares, “There is a bit of returning to very classic design, smaller. There is a feel for vintage, for things made 40-50 years ago and prices are a little more conservative.”

He adds, “talking about the watch business going away, it really never went away it just changed direction.”

In an article, they said that in the world of rare watch collectors, $50,000 is the starting price. 

Roberto responds, “that’s a bit obnoxious.” He says, you can buy a magnificent watch for a lot less that $50,000 but there are many watches that start well above that too. 

He continues to say that it is more important to find someone’s comfort level and desire because there still is an amazing selection of watches you can love for a lot less. 

Roberto is asked whether watches depreciate like cars?

Roberto responds, “absolutely, like anything else. It’s the rarity, it’s how complicated the watch is, who made it, etc.” 

Roberto says, watches tend to fluctuate in value based on currency, etc. but mostly they tend to go up. 

Lastly, Roberto is asked, “Is it cool to wear a watch on each wrist?”

He says, “We do have men that do that but they are very confident in themselves.”

Continue listening for more on the story of Roberto and Manfredi Jewels…

"If you do something you have passion for, life is easy." - Roberto Chiappelloni

Visit Roberto's restaurant, Alberto, open only at night, at 98-31 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills, NY 11375. Visit his jewelry store, Manfredi Jewels, at 121 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830.