The Rare Watch Man: Episode 1

The final episode in a series of how Roberto Chiappelloni created a 30-year-old business, called Manfredi Jewels and how it became one of the leading watch stores in the world…

Though we live in a digital time, rare watches and watches of great functionality and beauty are still a status symbol. It is the one thing a man can be proud of showing off in terms of jewelry, unlike women who can decorate themselves in many other things. 

Roberto is asked, “Where is the future of the rare watch business going and what can we expect?”

He responds, “You’re asking someone who is very passionate about mechanical watches so maybe I’m a convert that is biased, but I really believe there is a very strong future for these mechanical wonders.”

He goes on to support his belief by saying that men are still fascinated by machines and women love jewels. 

Nowadays, new watch-like inventions come out very often, whether it be a phone on a watch or wearable wellness technology. Roberto is asked, “How do you see a gorgeous rare timepiece competing with all this technology now being worn on the world’s wrists?”

Roberto says, “I believe that these smart watches like the Apple watch and others are actually training or getting young people used to wearing a watch. In their accomplishment and achievement, as they’re growing into their success, a fine watch will be a part of their wardrobe or valued possessions.” 

“Will any of the rare watch makers, the great artisans over the years, the almost lost art that you hope people apprentice in to keep the art going…Will any of these brands integrate the new technology with the old as far as your vision goes?”

Roberto explains, “In my opinion, yes. There have been some serious attempts and there will continue to be. But I am a firm believer that to compete with today’s apple watches it should not be attempted. We should stay true to our tradition and the amazing achievement that has promoted and succeeded in making the watch industry one of the most important parts of the luxury world.”

“It’s still a status symbol to wear a great brand of watch… It’s saying something other than I want to know what time it is.”

“Absolutely,” says Roberto, “It shows style, it shows tradition, it shows elegance, in some cases wealth… and it says a lot about a style and quality of a person as well.”

Roberto is asked, “How are we going to get the young generation to appreciate the tradition? Is anything being done to keep the tradition alive?”

He responds, “You’ve mentioned how men don’t have many important items of value… but yes, upon graduation from college, very often a grandfather, father will purchase a fine time piece… upon retirement people can receive a fine timepiece. I think the tradition is alive and well and is being promoted. Yes, we might communicate with all this technology but I think the status of a fine watch is alive and well and growing.”

“I think it is really up to the men, the grandfathers, the fathers, who own these to take the passing of the tradition on seriously,” says Debbie. 

She shares, “I had a brother who passed young and his watches were the number one thing his sons were looking at as a memory to stay connected to carry him forward in some way. So, I do think that the generations who have come to appreciate it are the ones who need to be sure to pass on the baton.”

“Today I am a perfect example,” says Roberto. “I am wearing a watch that belonged to my father and it is one of my most cherished possessions.”

Roberto is asked, “It is engraved in any way?”

He says, he wishes it was engraved but to him it almost is because it has all the original scratches and marks. He never polished or refinished it. 

Roberto is praised at how remarkable his career has been. “He has established himself on Greenwich Avenue as Manfredi Jewels, the number one destination that a rare watchmaker would like to be showcased in. It is sort of the Holy Grail,” says Debbie. 

As a father and watch guru, Debbie’s final question to Roberto is “What would you leave behind to your daughter and what is it going to say on your watch that you would like to leave behind as your message?”

Roberto replies, “I think I will leave for my daughter a wonderful triple date moon-phase Breguet watch, which is a very historic brand, that my wife gave to me on our 10th anniversary. It’s one of my favorite watches.”

“My daughter will cherish that watch, I know, because she very often admires it,” he says.

He shares it is engraved with the words, “With all my love on our 10th anniversary.” 

"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.