This week, we’re putting the spotlight on two retailers, one large and one small, who are driving horology forward in the West. Wanna Buy A Watch in Los Angeles focuses on vintage timepieces, while LV Luxury is the place in Las Vegas to purchase brand new watches to celebrate winning a cool sum at the tables next door.
The closure of The Strip in Las Vegas has surely put a damper on tourism (it doesn’t exist), and by extension, the local economy. For a business that employs 65 people like LV Luxury, the effect is felt not only by the folks directly behind the business, but by those that are employed as well. Supporting local retailers creates a multiplier effect: You’re keeping them in business, but you’re also supporting the people whose livelihood is working at the various boutiques.
Our readership is likely familiar with Wanna Buy A Watch in Los Angeles. While they can’t open the store, they’ve adapted to these trying times and can set up face-to-face meetings with customers.
Thank you to Mr. Bekhor from LV Luxury Jewelers and Mr. Jacobs from Wanna Buy A Watch for sharing your stories.
I’ve been in the jewelry business since 1977, and specifically watches since 1999. I got into the industry by accident – I was the financial partner of a small jeweler and ended up opening my first store in Las Vegas in 1978. Now we operate numerous stores throughout Las Vegas.
We first signed a lease with the Venetian in 1998. When we first approached the Venetian for a retail space, they asked us to bring in luxury watch brands and, not knowing the industry, my response was, “sure, no problem.” They asked for several luxury brands that took us over 10 years to bring into the Venetian Palazzo, and over 10 more years to finally bring into the LV Luxury family of stores. It’s taken decades to build the portfolio of brands that we carry.
Omega was the first watch company to sign on with us in 1999, followed by TAG Heuer, Ebel, Charriol, and Damiani. We have had amazing supporting partners over the years who have supported us through tough times and relished in our success. We’ve grown and evolved over the years, and most recently added Rolex and Patek Philippe.
Our location was excellent, being that we had 3,000 rooms above us, and we were also attached to the Sands convention center, one of the largest in the world. Sensing the opportunity, we opened our second store on the Venetian property, Horologio, in 2004, and added another 15 luxury watch brands to the portfolio with the likes of Breitling, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, and Franck Muller.
Alan, my son, joined the family business in 2001.
In 2008, with the opening of the Palazzo Hotel, we took a major leap and opened two new stores, Bellusso and our Van Cleef & Arpels location. Bellusso was really a first-of-its-kind in the US. It was a very long and narrow store with amazing frontage, but it was lined with a number of boutiques and had a very European feel. That location features an IWC, Vacheron Constantin, and Kwiat boutique in addition to Cartier, A. Lange & Söhne, Blancpain, Breguet, Bulgari, and Wellendorff.
Christine Sidoris, the VP of the company, joined LV Luxury in 2013 as Managing Director at Horologio and is now overseeing both the Rolex Boutique and Patek Philippe.
In 2018, we were very fortunate to open our largest store yet: a beautiful Rolex boutique and Patek Philippe showroom at the Shops at Crystals. In addition, we opened a charming Kwiat boutique at the Wynn hotel just adjacent to the guest room elevators.
LV Luxury prides itself on hiring experts who are passionate, honest, and dedicated professionals who are eager to share their knowledge with watch enthusiasts. LV Luxury has over 1,000 five-star Google reviews. We operate several brand boutiques which allow us to offer our clients rare and limited pieces and many other timepieces that become available to us exclusively or ahead of other locations.
Additionally, we also participate in several local and nationwide charities that are close to our clients’ and to our hearts. Some of the various efforts we support are Adelson Hospice and Keep Memory Alive, two great local organizations. We’re also supporters of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, and on the national level, The Lions of Judah and the Selfless Love Foundation.
Every year, we have trunk shows where many of our domestic and international clients travel to Las Vegas for the opportunity to acquire exclusive timepieces that we carry.
There are so many wonderful options. It would be hard to pick out just a few, because of the large breadth of what we carry.
We feature more than 30 brands including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, and Breitling. We have had several Las Vegas Exclusive Limited Editions by IWC, Breitling, and Bell & Ross. We currently have in the works several others to become available later this year.
All hotels on The Strip are closed, and tourism is non-existent currently in Las Vegas. All of our stores closed while we wait for the pandemic to pass. However, you can reach us during this time at: email@example.com. Once we reopen, we will have all our stores’ contact information on our website, www.lvluxuryjewelers.com.
Multiple locations in Las Vegas, including at The Shops at Crystals, the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (Van Cleef & Arpels), The Palazzo Hotel (Bellusso), The Venetian (Horologio), and The Wynn (Kwiat).
How do I tell this briefly? I moved to Southern California in 1976 for my internship in clinical psychology. I completed my PhD and got licensed to practice in California, but in the meantime discovered the beauty of vintage pocket watches at the Pasadena Rose Bowl monthly Flea Market. I saw a great potential in the vintage market for these fascinating and beautiful functional timepieces that you could carry and wear.
I had always been a collector of stuff, first seashells, then stamps, and then coins, but when I discovered these beautiful, undervalued timepieces, I saw a rich business opportunity. Furthermore, these beautifully decorated Elgins, Walthams, and Hampden hunting case watches with a lid that popped open (and with a secret back door to see the movement) would be far more interesting to a pretty girl at a party than trying to interest her in one of my Standing Liberty quarters!
After first selling at flea markets and local antique shows along with modest antique jewelry, I had an opportunity to share a tiny space with a vintage neon restoration guy on what was a vibrant and emerging vintage and American pop culture marketplace on Melrose Ave. My excitement about leaving psychology, and being part of the emergent international Melrose Ave scene, was unstoppable!
These were the days long before the internet and before eBay. The local watch shop was where everyone congregated, often two-deep on a Saturday afternoon, to see the latest offerings. In those days, there were four shops selling vintage watches on Melrose. I had expanded my pursuits from pocket watches to American wristwatches, which were just becoming fashionable in the U.S. in the early ’80s. I credit Sig (Ziggy) Shonholtz not for being my mentor per se, but as a role model for the fashionableness and appeal of 1920s-1950s wristwatch design, aesthetically restored and outfitted with fine straps.
In those days, the market was hot for Gruen Curvexes, Art Deco design by Bulova and Illinois, Rolex bubblebacks and Speedkings, anything pink gold, Bulova Spaceviews and Hamilton electrics! It was all design-driven, to have an ever-expanding collection of cool-looking vintage watches.
The list of celebrities we had the pleasure of hosting in our LA shop could fill pages, and it was, and still is, a thrill when well-known celebs from the music, arts, TV, film industries and beyond came to our store.
Moving ahead 20-plus years, we relocated further west on Melrose to a very upscale fashion and retail area – a far cry from those early days on the “other” Melrose. As anyone reading this knows, the market shifted significantly from the cool design American brands to the larger, more expensive and prestigious Rolex sport models. Our customers were bringing in their rolls of 12 to 20 gold-filled or gold dress watches to trade for one good Submariner. We sold our first Paul Newman for $3,500, the next for $6,500, and soon the market had exploded to $12,500!!!
Since the beginning, we have operated a retail store on fashionable Melrose Ave. I am not a technical person, not a watchmaker, and had no family background in watches. For me then, and now, my passion has been driven by the aesthetic. And towards that end, we have always created warm and appealing retail environments. Our print advertising (discontinued long ago), our store layout, the selection of watches, the fine photography on IG and our website, the no-appointment-needed access in a popular fashion district where customers can look, touch, try on, and learn – these all support interest and demand for our watches.
Of course, we owe a big tip of the hat to Ben, who besides inviting us to contribute to this article, referred to Wanna Buy A Watch? as “LA’s Horological Epicenter” during his interview for Talking Watches with Fred Savage. Quite a compliment, and I’m impressed with how concise he can be!!!
We carry a large selection and variety of Swiss and some American brands, dominated by vintage sport and dress Rolexes. Of late, we have been offering a lot of exceptional condition 1970s and ’80s Day-Date Presidents. Gold bracelet Rolexes have really taken off in popularity with the Presidents leading the charge. As I have said before in our posts, the former CEO watch has now become the fashion choice for both men and women.
Many of our young gun male customers have graduated from the modern Rolex sport models and typically own several. They stop by the shop in their 911s, talk about Porsches and their Leicas, and are sporting a Nautilus or a Royal Oak. They want to know what we have in sport APs and Pateks. Sadly, the cupboard is usually bare, as these watches are hard to come by for us, so we are left selling beautiful vintage Rolexes, Omegas, Vacherons, LeCoultres, Longines, colorful sporty dive watches, vintage chronos, and the like.
Though our shop is currently closed, we are continuing to maintain and post to our website and to our @wannabuyawatch and @wannabuyawatchjewels IG accounts. We can be reached at Ken@wannabuyawatch.com to answer questions or possibly set up a socially-distant face-to-face. We continue to ship domestic and internationally fully insured via FedEx.
8441 Melrose Ave,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
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