What is a New York minute? And which watch did Franklin D. Roosevelt wear in 1945? Nicola Andreatta, the Vice President and Managing Director of Tiffany & Co. Swiss Watches Sagl, tells all.
When did Tiffany & Co. begin making timepieces?
In 1847. Everybody knows Tiffany for jewellery but not its watchmaking. We established our first workshop in Ticino in 1874, even though it would have been easier to manufacture watches in America. Our founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, thought Swiss watchmakers were the best in the world and he wanted to make the best timepieces.
The statue of Atlas outside Tiffany & Co.’s flagship New York store is the most visible symbol of the company’s watchmaking history. Why is it so significant?
Tiffany & Co. erected the nine-foot statue of Atlas carrying a clock in 1853. In a way, it was the era’s most important moment for Tiffany. Wristwatches hadn’t yet been invented and timepieces in general were rare at the time. The Tiffany clock was one of the first installed in New York and all New Yorkers were using it to tell the time. In a sense, Tiffany was the official timekeeper of New York in the middle of the 19th century. Because of that we like to think we invented the New York minute.
What is a New York minute?
In New York, time is measured by the things you can do rather than just the time. A minute in New York is faster and fuller than any other minute in the world.
The CT60®was inspired by a Tiffany watch given to American president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Tell us about the watch.
Roosevelt’s watch is one of the most important in the Tiffany Archives. We thought it was the quintessential American design for a watch and we wanted to use it as the inspiration for our CT60® collection. The CT is named for Tiffany founder Charles Tiffany and “60” is a reference to the 60 seconds in a New York minute. The watch was given to Roosevelt by his stepson in January 1945 and it was the watch he wore at the Yalta Conference that year. I always like to think about Stalin and Churchill staring at his wrist to see what he was wearing. The watch itself is very interesting. It is beautifully designed and has a very open dial with Arabic numbers, which was typical of watches produced in the ’40s.
How did you reinterpret the watch’s classic design for today?
The lines are very tiny but very elongated to give the watch a sexier shape. There’s huge attention to detail in the dial, in the colours of the dial and in the manufacturing of the dial. If you look at the watch with a magnifying lens you can see the tiny pieces of gold powder in every number on the dial. We use different finishes to ensure the watch plays beautifully with the light, from he way the bracelet has been cut to the way the central link has been brushed.
How important is New York to the Tiffany story?
New York is part of our DNA. We’re America’s only luxury company that was born in New York and continues living in New York. New York is an amazing city
and home to countless different cultures. Our watches are crafted in Switzerland but inspired by the life and world of New York. And we like to think our flagship store encapsulates our democratic approach to luxury. A person can come to Tiffany and not feel overwhelmed by what’s around them. Our staff and ambassadors are friendly and have time for everybody. In the world of luxury that’s a very unusual thing. It’s very Tiffany. You start going to Tiffany when you’re very young and you keep going back to Tiffany. Especially for Americans, it’s part of their history.
Our "New York Minute" series is brought to you by Tiffany & Co