Top ten: Indie watch stores

Whether you're in the market for an investment timepiece or a trendier ticker, these purveyors ensure time is on your side.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Aaron Faber Gallery

     

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    1940s Rolex Oyster, $5,900, at Aaron Faber Gallery

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Westclox Moonbeam Bakelite vintage alarm clock, $450, at Aaron Faber Gallery

  • Nixon Time Teller watch, $60, at AC Gears

  • Nooka Zub Zayu watch, $150, at AC Gears

  • Photo 004

    Nava Ora Lattea watch, $180, at AC Gears

  • Alicia's Jewelers

  • Breitling Cosmonaute watch, $7,900, at Alicia's Jewelers

  • Cellini

  • Bell & Ross Vintage BR 126 Heritage chronograph, $4,300, at Cellini

  • DeWitt Golden Afternoon ladies' watch, $61,600, at Cellini

  • Matres du Temps Chapter One watch, $420,000, at Cellini

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Dedegumo

  • Dedegumo Beyond triple-strap watch, $459

  • Dedegumo Ripple watch, $609

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Diztrict

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    David & Goliath whimsical, slogan-emblazoned watches, $55 each, at Diztrict

  • EOS New York Marksman diving watch, $65, at Diztrict

  • EOS New York Mixtape wristwatch, $165, at Diztrict

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Kenjo; midtown; Top Ten Watch Stores;

    Kenjo

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Kenjo; midtown; Top Ten Watch Stores;

    Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec GMT, $11,400, at Kenjo

  • Ulysse Nardin Black Sea watch, $9,900, at Kenjo

  • Bulova Army watch, $745, at Master of Time

  • 1916 gold link watch chain, $1,125, at Master of Time

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Moss

  • Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

    Nooka Volta Zen watches, $300 each, at Moss

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    W Hotels the Store

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Hex honeycomb-rubber iPod Nano watch, $30, at W Hotels the Store

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Kara Ross pocket-watch necklace, $141, at W Hotels the Store

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Aaron Faber Gallery

 

Aaron Faber Gallery
Owned by watch connoisseurs Patricia and Edward S. Faber, the Aaron Faber Gallery makes a point of catering to its discerning customers with both selection and services. To wit, the Collector's Club offers assistance in finding rare collectible timepieces for a onetime fee of $95. The light, airy boutique specializes in investment-quality watches, such as the pristine Patek Philippe Top Hat Ref. 1450 ($14,250), whose 1950s styling and rectangular face has come back into fashion, and the 1940s Rolex Oyster ($5,900), a classic round-face steel model that's versatile enough for everyday wear. There's a wide variety of other high-end Swiss brands represented, including Breguet, Vacheron Constantin, and A. Lange & Shne. Ladies will swoon for vintage Art Deco pieces, like a 1928 white-gold and green-and-black--enamel watch on a black grosgrain band ($925), while antiques buffs will enjoy unique options like a vintage Westclox Moonbeam Bakelite alarm clock ($450). Mention TONY to receive 10 percent off all purchases through September 15. 666 Fifth Ave at 53rd St (212-586-8411, aaronfaber.com)

AC Gears
Though AC Gears is primarily an electronics boutique, attracting fans of pricey headphones and the latest Japanese toys, its gadgety bona fides extend well into watches. In the clean, minimalist white space, display alcoves house timepieces like the waterproof, digital Casio G-Shock ($100), still kicking after 28 years in six glossy high-contrast color combinations. Other classic urban picks include Nixon resilient polycarbonate monochromatic styles ($60) and Nooka asymmetrical Zub Zayu models ($150), though we're just as dazzled by the more futuristic offerings, including Idea's Madokadoke bracelet watch ($150), which hides its LED digital numerals in the grooves of a wide plastic bangle, and Nava's Ora Lattea ($180), an abstract design whose hands are represented by two black dots. 69 E 8th St between Broadway and Mercer St (212-260-2269, acgears.com)

Alicia's Jewelers
Opened in 1983, this Queens jeweler proves that you don't need a Manhattan address to move first-class merchandise. Offering a mix of mechanical and automatic timepieces for both sexes, there's a watch for all taste levels here. While the showpiece may be the $1.3 million Dior Christal 42-millimeter Tourbillon covered in a whopping 214 diamonds, pieces like the limited-edition Breitling Cosmonaute ($7,900)—an all-metal ode to astronaut Scott Carpenter's 1962 orbit around Earth featuring a 24-hour dial—more accurately represent the high end. Those with midrange budgets should make a beeline toward the Montblanc Steel Collection ($1,800--$6,000), which marries contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship. Alicia's also has a pre-owned and vintage collection with some real gems, like a round-face stainless-steel-and-gold Van Cleef & Arpels ladies' watch ($2,200) and a two-tone silver-and-gold Rolex Datejust ($3,000) with a dark silver dial. 211-19 26th Ave at 211th St, Bayside, Queens (718-224-0075, aliciasjewelers.com)

Cellini
When the Adams family opened their first jewelry store in the Waldorf-Astoria 30 years ago, they built a loyal, exclusive clientele that they continue to serve today, both from that original hotel-lobby location and a larger Madison Avenue boutique. Cellini has had a long history of bringing haute horlogerie to the United States, selling high-end brands like Audemars Piguet as early as 1977. More recently, the store has thrown its considerable weight behind labels such as Matres du Temps, a very small-production collaboration between several watch-world luminaries whose Chapter One ($420,000) made a splash as soon as it was introduced. While there's a selection of entry-level pieces, like the handsome pilot-inspired Bell & Ross Vintage BR 126 Heritage chronograph ($4,300), be prepared to spend major dough on a wristwatch here: Cellini's heart is in its jewelry collection, a fact that becomes evident in such diamond-bedecked pieces as the rectangular-shape Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Donna ($8,900) and the flower-emblazoned DeWitt Golden Afternoon ($61,600). 509 Madison Ave at 53rd St (212-888-0505) * 301 Park Ave between 49th and 50th Sts (212-751-9824) * cellinijewelers.com

Dedegumo
While there are plenty of options for bringing the craft of watchmaking to your wrist, there aren't many opportunities outside of Switzerland to see how the job gets done. In this rustic, brick-walled space, you can view the six in-house artisans create their signature designs. Incorporating leather bands, rustic finishes and natural motifs such as stars and flowers, the look is somewhere between hippie and hipster, making one of these time-tellers the perfect signature piece for an artsy individual who likes to stand out. Some standard offerings, like the triple-strap, lotus-flower--face Beyond model ($459) and the thick-strap, bent-metal--face Ripple ($609) are on display on a workshop-style wooden table, but because everything is handcrafted, no two are exactly alike. 188 Orchard St between E Houston and Stanton Sts (212-677-1977, dedegumo.com)

Diztrict
Streetwear staples like Urbanears colorful headphones ($59) and vintage-looking shoulder bags emblazoned with the Pan Am logo ($55--$160) line the shelves of this pared-down, all-white boutique. But the main attraction for fans of Japanese-inflected street style who want to capture the look in a smaller package is the wall of watches, predominated by sporty styles from EOS New York (designed by store owner Neelam Lalchandani). Highlights from the line include the Marksman colored plastic diving style ($65) and the quirky Mixtape wristwatch ($165), characterized by its cassette-tape--shaped face. Anime-bedecked designs from Tokidoki ($145--$175) are the edgier counterparts to David & Goliath's whimsical, slogan-emblazoned faces ($55), while futuristic rubber watches from Nooka ($130--$170) round out the offerings. Mention TONY for 10 percent off all purchases through September 5. 259 Bleecker St at Cornelia St (212-837-1236, diztrict.com)

Kenjo
Brothers Steve and Ken Grazi's quiet, well-stocked staple is beloved for having all of the variety of its big midtown competitors crammed into a more intimate environment. More than 50 international brands are represented, and a substantial trade-in program lets customers put the fair resale value of an old watch toward the purchase of a new one. Since 1983, they've specialized in smaller high-end labels that produce amazing showpieces, like the BLU Gagarin Tourbillon ($260,000) featuring a flying orbital tourbillon—a balancing mechanism that rotates around the case—to visually recall Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin's historic first-ever journey into space. For equally special but more practical pieces, check out the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec GMT ($11,400) with three time-zone displays or the rough-and-tumble Ulysse Nardin Black Sea ($9,900), whose vulcanized-steel case is coated in matte black rubber. 40 W 57th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-333-7220, kenjo.net)

Master of Time
A Diamond District staple for the past 25 years, Dimitrie Vicovanu's old-school shop is a vintage-lover's dream. In addition to a full line of repair services overseen and often carried out by the owner (starting at $175), Master of Time also appraises and purchases vintage collections and individual timepieces. There are some real finds in the American-made category, like a World War II--era Bulova Army watch ($745) with a bright clear dial on a military-green strap or a 1965 Gruen automatic on a striking cobalt band ($395). Fashionistas looking to change up their current watch's look will find an array of leather straps, starting at $25 for basic leather and going up to $95 for dressy alligator, with which to do so. There are also some beautiful vintage watch chains and fobs, from a delicate 1930s style ($275) to a heavy gold link chain dating back to 1916 ($1,125). 15 W 47th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, booth 8 (212-354-8463, mastersoftime.com)

Moss
Since 1994, this gallery-like space co-owned by onetime actor Murray Moss has embodied the intersection of art and commerce, hawking high-concept furnishings and home decor in an intentionally cold store. That same ethos extends to the eye-catching watch selection, which is heavy on models that would appeal to those who prioritize design over mechanics. Take, for instance, the clean-lined Max Bill chronoscope ($2,100), created in 1962, whose solid-white face and thin silver hands embody real Mad Men style, and the ladies' Ole Mathiesen 28-millimeter watch ($1,000) featuring a bare face with no time markings. The locked glass vitrines also house some more affordable examples of modern tech, like the Volta Zen ($300), a collaboration with Nooka whose bands are fashioned from recycled kiteboard wings. 150 Greene St between W Houston and Prince Sts (212-204-7100, mossonline.com)

W Hotels the Store
In addition to giving shoppers a crack at hotel-quality mattresses and bedding, the W New York's sleek shop wants you to bring its signature, sophisticated style home in the form of clothing and accessories. That extends to a mostly unisex collection of timepieces, many of which are limited-edition collaborations that you won't find anywhere else, including Nixon Chronicle SS Gunmetal men's styles ($350) made exclusively for the store and delicate Kara Ross pocket-watch necklaces ($141) that reverse to a crocodile-skin pendant and are inspired by the W London. Embrace technology with Hex black honeycomb-rubber iPod Nano watches ($30) that put your new toy right on your wrist. 541 Lexington Ave between 49th and 50th Sts (212-659-3580) * 1567 Broadway between 46th and 47th Sts (212-930-7431) * whotelsthestore.com

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