Wempe Is Going XXL On Fifth Avenue

Even though retail has been tough for the past unseasonably warm season, one category seems to weather consumer glitches a bit better than most. The highest end jewelry and watches will always hold appeal in New York if not for the locals then for the endless stream of tourists that pass through the city at any given moment. We have already seen Bergdorf Goodman unveil a bigger, better precious jewelry salon, and just a few blocks down Fifth Avenue, a similar expansion is under way at Wempe, the city's most prestigious watch store.
You may be thinking that Tourneau is the leader in that category (and it's really a matter of opinion), but while the big T has more locations, more brands and generally more flash, Wempe is the one with the more concentrated  focus on the most luxurious and exclusive watchmakers without all of those designer and mid-range, mass brands. While they have never tried to be all things to all people like their great competitor, they are about to get quite a bit bigger. It all came about last year when it came time to renegotiate its 15-year lease on the Fifth Avenue side of the Peninsula Hotel at 55th Street. Rather than getting the old rent-hike heave-ho that so many of its longtime neighbors —even major designers— have recently been faced with, Wempe was offered the opportunity to take over the Lindt Chocolate and Swarovski stores next door. Well, those guys got the heave-ho, obviously, but we're pretty sure they will be fine. Wempe will now be extending its red carpet to around 5,550 square ft. to transform itself into the newly dubbed Wempe XXL. Rather than broadening its assortments to fill all that new space, the store is expected to maintain its current lineup of watchmakers, but offer a greater depth of merchandise. That will mean more option for customers in search of the perfect Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and , of course, Rolex and the like. Look for the store to reveal its renovation sometime this summer, just in time to take advantage of summer tourist season, or, as we like to call them at the high end, non-local clients.


APPLE WATCH Meets HERMÈS For Its First Collaboration — Updated With Details

's new product announcement event is still going on as we type this, but the biggest fashion news for the tech giant was pushed to the front of the agenda as its first Apple Watch collaboration was announced with none other than the most luxe of the luxe, Hermès.
Is that exclusive enough for you?
This was a development that was conspicuously not bandied about by the tech blogs which have been breathlessly reporting on rumored product developments for the past few weeks (giant iPad Pro with high tech pencil stylus confirmed), so it was a genuine surprise.
The Apple Watch Hermès will be available in October at select retailers. it comes with a classic single strap, signature double tour (see image above) or wider cuff strap, all with a customized Hermès watch face. Perhaps this is the push that was needed to get the Apple Watch into real luxury players like Barneys and Neiman Marcus. So far we have no price info yet for the watches, but stay tuned. We will update as soon as more information is released.

Now that Apple has updated the Apple Watch page, we can offer some more specific details about the new collaboration.
For starters, these are emphatically not separate bands for individual purchase as has been reported by some outlets, but only sold with Apple Watches in polished stainless steel and a custom Hermès face that will only be available on these models. Here are the prices for the three styles:

Double Tour in 38mm with four band colors: Fauve, Etain, Capucine, and Bleu Jean
- $1,250
Single Tour in 38 or 42mm with Fauve or Noir bands. Capucine band only in 38mm
- $1,100 and up
Cuff in 42mm with a Fauve band
- $1,500

The Cuff style has a cut-out in the back of the watch to allow the heart rate sensor to be in contact with the wrist. So far, we do not know if versions of the band can also be purchased with the gold Apple Watch Edition, but it is not listed as an option on the site.
As for stores that will be carrying the watch next month, there are only 17 North American retail outlets listed including Apple Stores in Eaton Center and Yorkdale in Toronto, Aventura and Miami Beach in Florida, The Grove in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Hermès boutiques to be selling the watch include Beverly Hills, Miami and San Francisco. The only third party retailer listed so far is Maxfield in Los Angeles. In New York, the watches will be available only at Hermès on Madison Avenue and the Apple Stores on Fifth Avenue, Prince Street in SoHo and Broadway on the Upper West Side.

After the jump, click to enlarge some official images of the three styles


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APPLE WATCH Meets HERMÈS For Its First Collaboration — Updated With Details" »


Reservations For In-Store Apple Watch Purchasing Start Today

ApplewatchbagConcluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.

Apple opens up US Watch retail reservations, shoppers get unique bags (AppleInsider)


Want To Buy An Apple Watch
At The Apple Store?
Wait Until June, Maybe July

AppleWatchEditionBasically, there is no product launch this season that can compare with the Apple Watch.
It has captured the imagination of the gadget-buying public like nothing else, and it though it will start shipping next week for an April 24th delivery to lucky early bird pre-orderers, we won't see it in stores for at least a couple of months. Anyone who thinks that they can line up outside the city's various Apple Stores to get first dibs will be sorely disappointed come next Friday, and if you see someone trying, you are now officially allowed to taunt them and throw things at them.
Well, maybe not throw things, but feel free to tell them not to waste their time.
No less credible a source than Angela Ahrendts, Apple's head of retail, sent a memo to employees this past week informing them that there would be no stock available for walk-in customers on the 24th, and there probably wouldn't be any until June, possibly July —which is why the company has been previewing the new line in stores before it becomes available to purchase in person. She writes in the memo, reprinted by The Telegraph,

"It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us," she wrote. "There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect — and that we expect from ourselves — we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping."

Supplies are reportedly so tight that pre-ordering after an in-store examination may be the only way to buy the watch from an official outlet for months to come, perhaps until it is time to launch the inevitable Apple Watch 2 .One result of this will likely be discouraging the alleged straw purchasers who clogged lines outside stores last Fall when the iPhone 6 launched. It is widely believed that these customers, willing to wait in extensive lines repeatedly, were diverting their purchases to international gray markets where the phone was not yet available. Ahrendts, however does not make mention of this in her memo, rather stressing that a unique new product needs to be rolled out in a slow and controlled manner. There is also no suggestion that this will become the new standard procedure for other launches, so when the presumed new iPhone (6S? 6C?) is released this fall, we can reasonably expect to see a return to the familiar sight of lines of customers sweeping down the sidewalks.

Apple Watch won't be available in Apple's retail stores until June at the earliest (AppleInsider)


The Apple Watch Is Coming In 46 Days
And It Is Everything

This morning on the news, newscasters noted that the big Apple Watch announcement was scheduled for today, and the big question was whether or not people would really want such a device?
Well, we watched most of the presentation and, trust us, you will want one.
Even supermodel Christy Turlington —an early adopter who was allowed to test it out while running a half-marathon— loves hers.
Endless column inches are being written at this very moment, so we won't bore you with the technical details. For that, we suggest checking the dedicated sites like AppleInsider, but here is some of the basic information you will want to know:

  • The watch will be available to examine in person at Apple Stores on April 10th, which is just about one month away. Pre-ordering online will begin on that date.
  • It will ship on April 24. Expect it to sell out immediately, and look for lines comparable to the worst iPhone lines. Will we be seeing packs of shady cash only smugglers bogarting product? Almost definitely.
  • There are two sizes in each of the basic styles with a price difference of $50 depending on the size. Apple Watch Sport in high-tech aluminum comes in 10 models starting at $349 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm. The stainless steel Apple Watch comes in 20 different models starting at $549 - $599 for the fluoroelastomer sport band model and going up to $1,049 - $1,099 for the Space Black case with matching steel link bracelet. Faces can be downloaded and changed at whim, and bands for the steel models are interchangeable, but additional ones must be purchased separately.
  • The 18K gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) comes in 8 models starting at $10,000.
    Tim Cook only specified that it would be available at "select" retailers, which suggests a very limited exclusive or semi-exclusive distribution befitting watches in that price category. Rumors have Nordstrom in negotiations to carry it, and we suspect that Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf's, Barneys and Saks have been targeted as well as a few major jewelers. Expect an announcement closer to the launch date, probably not before the end of March regarding exactly who will carry it.

So there's the basic when-where-and-how-muchinformation we have right now. If you were wondering if it would be appealing, then rest assured that it is. You will be able to talk on the phone with it like Dick Tracy! Not to mention all the other kinds of features and uses it will have.
Will you want to give up a beautiful vintage Rolex or an elegant Cartier watch to wear it? Well, that's a different question. It may lose its luxury cachet if as many people who carry iPhones are also wearing Apple Watches, even with the customizable face displays. How it will affect the analog timepiece industry remains to be seen, but it's hard not to imagine at least a temporary dent in business for traditional watchmakers.
Anyway, what we do know is that there will be frenzy at the apple store on April 24th. Brace yourselves early adopters. It's going to be along wait in line.


The Michael Bastian x Hewlett Packard Smartwatch Launches Today

You may be waiting for the AppleWatch to become available in the coming months, but for those with less patience and less affection for futuristically styled timepieces, the smartwatch designed by Michael Bastian for Hewlett-Packard is available now on Gilt.com. Created with the objective of marrying smart technology with elegant style, it is a rugged alternative to the space-age styling that many tech-savvy yet fashionable folks may not care to sport on their wrists every day. The Chronowing, as it is called, after Bastian's wing insignia, may not have the capacity for third party apps that the AppleWatch is promising, but it will sync with iOS and Android, bringing email, texts and other data to your easily accessible wrist. It will also hold its charge for up to a week, which seems to be way longer than Apple is promising, and comes in two stylish versions including the basic stainless steel with three interchangeable straps for $349 and a limited edition all-black version with an alligator strap made in a limited run of 300 with an authenticity card hand signed by the designer himself for $649. Both are available exclusively through Gilt.com. Have a look at the gallery below for more images.

Chronowing Smartwatch (Official Site)
Michael Bastian x Hewlett-Packard (Gilt.com)
Tech Race: Will Michael Bastian's Smartwatch Beat Apple's To Market?

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Sample Sales Come Roaring Back
At Scoop's Warehouse Sale,
Gant, Furla & More

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Everybody needs a little break, and the end of August and first couple of weeks in September are the perfect time to rest up. Alexander McQueen kickstarted the Sample Sale season last week with a rare sale that was, by all reports, met with an extremely enthusiastic response. Things pick up even more this week with a new version of SCOOP NYC's WAREHOUSE SALE. Now that it has lost one of its Meatpacking District spaces, the chain has turned to the busy space at 260 Fifth Avenue for a blowout clearance running through Sunday the 21st featuring 80% off original retail prices that starts today. If the response to the VIP preview is any indication it may be something of a madhouse. Here is your last chance for bargains on the Spring 2014 season. We saw lots of shoes, and a random but abundant array of merchandise for Men and Women. While there were a few items, like women's Rag & Bone suede shorts that seemed to be in good supply, it was mostly a little of this and a little of that from most of the chain's contemporary and designer labels. If last yesterday's arrangement holds, shoppers should expect a lot of merchandise arranged mostly by category only, and not size. Also, there are no dressing rooms, so expect to try on in the aisles, and prepare accordingly. For men, there was a particular abundance of Orlebar Brown and Pantone swimwear, which is worth stocking up on. Pantone and S.C.P. tees were also notably plentiful. There was a smaller selection of handbags and accessories, but this one is mostly all about the clothes and shoes. Have a look at a few glances in the gallery above. There are a few other notable sales happening this week as well:

FURLA's popular accessories will be even more well priced starting today through Thursday on Park Avenue South. Always a popular resource for stylish handbags and wallets, the sale promises up to 80% off retail prices.

Shophound fave GANT has broken its clockwork-like sale pattern this year. Normally we have to wait until early October, but this time, the sample sale is starting this Thursday the 18th, and promises Men's and Women's samples for the Fall 2015 season only. From what we have come to expect, this sale really should be samples only meaning Medium sizes only for both genders. They could slip in some Spring clearance goods, but we wouldn't bet on it since they will be in 260's smaller venue at 225 Fifth Avenue, and will only be running for four days through Sunday the 21st, meaning little time or space for much more than what is advertised. It will feature all of Gant's labels, and even the conservative main brand has gotten a lot zippier lately. Gant Rugger is now offering a women's collection, and this Fall is the last season for Michael Bastian fans to pick up his collaboration line, so prepare to shop early.

After it clears out the ESCADA sale that is currently running through Wednesday, Soiffer-Haskin's Midtown West location will feature 50% to 70% off retail prices on Swiss made luxury watches from MOVADO, EBEL and CONCORD ranging from discreet, classic steel models to extravagant, limited edition models in gold with precious gemstones. For those feeling less spendy, there will also be fashion watches from popular designers like HUGO BOSS, LACOSTE, FERRARI & JUICY COUTURE. Starts Friday the 19th.

See out SALE ROLL at left for details and locations and more breaking sales.


Will Michael Bastian's Smartwatch Beat Apple's To Market?

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While everyone is breathlessly awaiting an official announcement introducing Apple's long rumored iWatch, menswear designer Michael Bastian has collaborated with Hewlett Packard for his own elegant take on wearable tech. Apple's super-sleek designs for iPhone, iPod and iPad have garnered acclaim, but the jury is still very much out on whether pleasure in carrying and using such futuristic designs will translate into desire to wear them every day, particularly for people who have more sophisticated fashion tastes. We’re at the beginning of the wave, but the smart part comes before the visual part,” Bastian tells WWD. “We felt there was a need for something that feels like a watch first.” Bastian's design (pictured in the gallery above) is more specialized than what is being anticipated from Apple. It features a sizable 44-mm. stainless steel case and three interchangeable watchbands in black rubber, perforated brown leather and olive green. A limited edition all-black version is also in the works. The more traditionally styled timepiece will have a lighted dial inspired by luxury car dashboards. Inside, the operating system will be compatible with both Android and iOS devices and will offer access to emails, texts, calendars and a host of other information including stock updates, sports scores and, of course, weather to name a few services.

We know that the watch will launch this Fall, and will initially be available exclusively through Gilt.com. what we don't yet know is exactly how much it will cost, so there's still a little bit of mystery left for this particular product. 

Michael Bastian Creates Stylish Smartwatch (WWD)
Michael Bastian X HP (Official Web Page)


Spring Comes To Shinola With A Flower Pop-Up & Block Party With Steven Alan

ShinolaStevenAlanBlockPartySpring, it seems, is finally here for real, and our friends at Shinola are celebrating. You would think that a brand from Detroit would be less rattled by the horrible Winter we have all just endured, but they seem happier than anyone to look ahead to warmer days.

The Shophound stopped Shinola's TriBeCa boutique earlier this month to see how the unconventional brand revival was faring. We hadn't been in since it opened last year, and it seems that things are more than humming along nicely. The Detroit factory can't seem to make those smartly designed watches fast enough, and there are more styles than ever, with many of them out on the counter for you to peruse and try on at will. The smart leathergoods collection continues to expand with new styles and colors, and even the bicycle division is growing, including a special loaner program that puts guests from the nearby Greenwich Hotel on a Shinola Bike to cycle around the city during their stays. Not content to rest on its own community-minded business model, the store has regularly spearheaded additional initiatives, including a program with Brooklyn's Public-Supply which offers a classic box of 12 No. 2 graphite pencils in signature Shinola Orange for a mere $12. whose profits will support creative arts classrooms in Detroit Public Schools.

But it's this week that the store is extra busy.
Starting with Thurdsay evening May (click the image above to enlarge) 1 at 6 PM, Shinola is hosting a Franklin Street Block Party along with neighbor Steven Alan to kick off their road-show and celebrate the new season. Alan will be offering 20% off his private label line in his stores, and Shinola will be offering free monogramming for the event. There will be Roberta's Pizza for all and complimentary drinks from George Dickel (provided you have ID, of course).

But that's not all. On Saturday the 3rd, Shinola will be hosting a Mother's Day Flower Store Pop-Up with Fox Fodder Farm where customers can order arrangements for Mom (or whoever you think needs some flowers) in advance or buy them right there.
And stay tuned for June, where there will be another special pop-up for Father's Day.


Cartier Prepares its Temporary Store Which May Stick Around For A While

Last Saturday, Cartier shut down its storied Fifth Avenue Flagship for extensive renovations expected to last for two years including an entirely new main floor, enlargement of the penthouse, a dramatic new staircase and Fifth Avenue façade as well as a major overhaul and upgrade of its heating, lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems. To take its place, the jeweler has taken over part of the GM building previously occupied by the CBS Morning Show, which has spent nearly a year undergoing its own renovation to create a suitable space for an Haute Joaillierie. The "temporary" store is expected to open next week, with the exact time frame for the moving of merchandise a closely guarded secret for obvious security reasons, but an article in The New York Times suggests that the jeweler may hang on to the space even after the flagship reopens. At 8,000 square feet, it will be the jeweler's biggest, even larger than the heritage store at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street. It will boast extravagant 22 foot ceilings, and textured glass window treatments are already visible at the location. The interior is being created by the same team that designs Cartier's stores worldwide, so it seems that few expenses have been spared, and Emmanuel Perrin, president and CEO of Cartier International tells the Times that “it absolutely could become permanent.” That leaves us with the question of why the jewelry and watchmaker would need a second, permanent flagship sized store only 7 blocks from its original one, especially with another location over on Madison Avenue?
Location, location, location —as we have said before. While the ornate Italian Renaissance style mansion that has housed Cartier's main store for a decades is as hushed and elegant as one would expect a world class jeweler to be, it is a bit intimidating, with most passerby content to gawk at the opulent jewels in the windows without actually entering the store. By contrast, competitor Tiffany & Co.'s marble showplace at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue has remained a popular tourist destination, and with another, more modern feeling store just steps from FAO Schwarz and the Apple Store, which are two of the most visited retail establishments in the city, Cartier will be well positioned to capture a customer who may not have been comfortable wandering into the main flagship. Of course, the Times notes that Cartier's parent company Richemont could also convert the space for another of its luxury brands which include Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget and Montblanc, but it looks likely that New York will wind up with two Cartier flagships by the time they are finished.

Cartier Moves North From Perch on Fifth Avenue (NYTimes)
Fifth Avenue Swap: Cartier Slated To Camp Out At The GM Building