Pret-a-Reporter

Clive Owen Welcomes New Jaeger-LeCoultre Store to Madison Avenue

Sam Deitch/BFA

The 'Knick' star, along with fellow brand ambassador, actress Sarah Gadon, were on hand for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the Swiss watchmaker's new Manhattan boutique.

Jaeger-LeCoultre has waited many years to open a New York boutique, so when the stars ultimately aligned, the Swiss watchmaker wanted to commemorate the moment in a fitting fashion. That included inviting the stars with which this house is aligned, brand ambassadors Clive Owen and Sarah Gadon, both of whom were on hand to celebrate the brand’s new 700-square-foot boutique at 701 Madison Ave. (just below 63rd Street.)

“It took us a while to find the space that reflected the values of the brand,” said Philippe Bonay, president of Jaeger-LeCoultre North America. “The right real estate is difficult to find in New York, but we felt this was perfect right away. It’s as though our customers have been waiting for us.” A cocktail party and ribbon-cutting at the flagship location was followed by dinner at the nearby Core Club, where A-listers and Jaeger-LeCoultre execs talked about their love of the brand. “I’m just crazy about their tourbillons,” said Owen, who was wearing the Master Grande Tradition à Tourbillon 43, crafted with a platinum case and grey rhodium-plated dial. “[Becoming a brand ambassador] was a very organic thing, because I was already a fan.”

Owen is in New York to film the second season of HBO’s The Knick with Steven Soderbergh; shooting concludes in May, and he’ll take a short break before commencing rehearsals with the Roundabout Theatre Company for Harold Pinter’s Old Times, set to go into previews Sept. 17 before opening Oct. 15. “Don’t say that to me, that’s scary,” he said with a laugh after being congratulated for his upcoming Broadway debut. “The truth is, I started out in theater, trained in the theater and went to the Royal Academy, but I got sidetracked for many years. When I was asked to do this play, one of Pinter’s best, it just seemed right.” Is he really nervous about the prospect of appearing before Broadway audiences? “It was a scary decision, because it’s been a long time since I’ve done live theater,” Owen said. “But I had forgotten that, when I was young, I always wanted to do a play on Broadway. I was reminded of that recently. So sure, I’m nervous, who wouldn’t be? But I’m a sucker for a challenge.”

Seen recently in Maps to the Stars and Belle, Gadon is likewise looking at a busy 2015, with three films scheduled for release: the Queen Christina biopic The Girl King, A Royal Night Out, based on the true story of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret venturing out of Buckingham Palace to partake of the V.E. Day festivities on May 15, 1945, and the psychological thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax. How might The Girl King differ from the 1933 biopic starring Greta Garbo as the titular Swedish monarch? “Well, I play Countess Ebba Sparre, the [lover] of Queen Christina,” Gadon says. “Garbo was never able to make the film she wanted about Christina; we now have a chance to tell the real story.”

Gadon, wearing Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-Vous Night & Day on Tuesday evening, signed on as an ambassador in 2013. She previously didn’t consider herself a watch aficionado — “The one thing I’ve learned is that people who love watches are very intense about it,” she said — but added that she’s enjoyed the learning process.

Both she and Owen have visited the brand’s headquarters in Switzerland’s legendary home of horologie, the Vallée de Joux. “I’m more of a film person, but I’ve loved learning about [watches],” Gadon said. “There’s something really beautiful about the idea that one person assembles such an incredible timepiece from start to finish. I love that they’re big fans of film, and there’s something very classic about the brand that appeals to me. I love all the really iconic, classic movie stars, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, and they fit well with that idea.”

Founded in Switzerland in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre is among those high-end watch brands known for mixing old-world craftsmanship with inventive technology. Pieces range from the Master Compressor Extreme Lab 2, part of a tech-driven series that puts a spotlight on time precision, to perhaps its most iconic timepiece, the Reverso: With its swiveling — or back-to-front — reversible case, the Reverso was first crafted in 1931 after British Army officers requested a watch that could withstand the dangers of breakage if worn during a polo match. Bonay hints that, with the 85th anniversary of Reverso approaching next year, fans of the brand should look forward to something truly special. “What we have planned, you won’t believe it,” he said.

Jaeger-LeCoultre is also known for its longtime relationship with cinema, sponsoring or otherwise supporting film festivals in Venice, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and San Sebastian. Bonay noted that the marriage for him is an easy one. “In our history we have created 400 patents and 1,350 movements, with more than 1,000 craftsman who have brought those dreams to life, so there is a parallel for us that is obvious,” he said. “That’s why we have an affection for not only the red carpet and the lights and the actors, but also the filmmakers, the editors, all those who have a deep love for a craft. Sometimes they’re amazing movies and sometimes they’re average movies, but they’re pouring their souls into it, and that’s something we do every day.”

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