Basel, California: Is LA Horology’s New Home?

Word on the street is that Baselworld isn’t what it used to be; word is, its days may be numbered. Fears are rising that rabid watch lovers will have nothing to satiate their evermore unslakeable thirst for innovation and novelty. Where will they go? What will they do? Will travel agents be able to cope with the sudden influx of would-be travellers with no idea where to visit instead of a sleepy city in Switzerland that, for one week a year, is as bustling and as bloated with star power as Hollywood? If in doubt, that’s exactly where they should send these itinerant watch lovers, because the buzz around LA as the newest watch-spot is really starting to be heard as the LA watch market continues to grow.

LA Watch Market
Image author's own

LA may well be regarded as a glitzy and glamorous place, but in reality, it’s a demanding area. The pressures of living in such a competitive environment galvanizes the people that spend every day in the grasp of a city that can, and often seems to be trying to, grind their dreams to dust.

Hardship breeds creativity. Struggle breeds dedication. Rejection breeds tenacity. Those ingredients can form a frothy cocktail of activity when the stars align, and right now, were seeing the LA watch market step up to the plate to hit one horological home run after another.

LA Watch Market
Image author’s own

New brands are popping up everywhere. With top quality retailers all over town (and plenty within a couple of hours’ drive), it’s never been easier to buy local. In LA, the cavernous Feldmar offers shoppers a huge amount of product context when making a decision, while those who want truly off-the-wall curios, should head to Westime in Beverley Hills – a small multiple chain (with outlets on Sunset Boulevard, in La Jolla, and also Miami) that stocks some wild and wacky creations, including HYT, DeBethune, Urwerk, and MB&F.

LA Watch Market

It’s a creative cauldron – we all knew that when it comes to cinema, but the same is true of watchmaking. With innovative companies like Devon going as far as to reimagine how we should read the time, and cool creative maisions like LaCalifornienne, which rather than make something new, decided to dedicate their time and skills to making something old, new. Here you can take your Rolex for a serious overhaul and walk away with something supremely individual.

And perhaps that’s the key to why LA is the new ‘ville du jour’ when it comes to watchmaking. Standing out amongst a crowd of dynamic individuals all clamouring for the same finite amount of attention is hard work. But having the right thing strapped to your left wrist certainly can’t hurt. Who knows? You might even be the next Paul Newman… As for the LA watch market, we’ll continue to keep a close eye on it in the months to come.

About the Author:

Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.