This week, family-owned Razny Jewelers opened the doors to its fourth location — and first downtown — a stunningly sleek three-story space on Oak Street, the epicenter of luxury shopping in Chicago. In line with its luxe locale, the 7,500-square-foot store will exclusively showcase watches by Rolex and Patek Philippe, a brand favored by celebs like Angelina Jolie, John Mayer and Brad Pitt.
On the eve of the store’s opening, Splash sat down with Thierry Stern, president of Geneva-based Patek Philippe.
What makes a Patek Philippe watch so special?
THIERRY STERN: We believe that it takes time to create something very fine. We have nearly 100 patents on many [elements of watch design], including the double chronograph and perpetual calendar [mechanism]. Some of the parts that are inside my watch are not even as thick as one of your hairs, for example. Patek Philippe has the know-how to fabricate, and also repair, every watch since 1839. If you have a Patek from your great-grandfather, we would be able to restore it and have the archive for the whole story of your watch.
How are your watches crafted?
TS: We are a manufacturer; everything is made internally. The beauty about it is that you can really follow every step of your watch … starting from a block of metal. There is a mix between hand finishing and technology. Today, do not expect to see one guy working on the watch from A to Z by hand — the quality would be not there. [We use] new technology, but the finishing is always done by hand, the polishing of every angle, the polishing of the wheels.
What is trending in watches?
TS: We always say [trends are] like a circle. Rose gold is quite strong [and] stainless steel. The size is also changing; now it’s getting a little bit bigger. It’s always moving like this — in seven years, maybe yellow gold will be back, it’s hard to know. But we don’t like to follow the trends, because a Patek Philippe should be timeless. We create it so that you can wear it … and in 50 years [the next generation can] wear it and everybody will say, “Wow, what a beautiful watch.”
What is the best way to care for a watch?
TS: To wear it! This is the best way — you should never be worried. It’s a little bit like when you buy a car, the first scratch is the worst. But after that, the watch is alive, and I always say if you are caring about your watch, you have to wear it; otherwise it will be a dead watch.
Patek Philippe starting at $13,000; Rolex starting at $6,000, 109 E. Oak; Razny.com