Last week, American Express Centurion announced a new partnership with Watches of Switzerland, which offers an exclusive program to U.S. Centurion Members. On Friday, the pair unveiled the program at a swanky launch party hosted in the Amex Centurion Club in the heart of New York City at 1 Vanderbilt, overlooking the Chrysler building. Here, Centurion Members had the rare opportunity to shop a meticulously curated selection of watches and experience first-hand the kind of bespoke services they can expect from Watches of Switzerland thanks to this new endeavor.
According to Bess Spaeth, SVP at American Express, this partnership was a natural next step for Amex to offer its Centurion clients. “We know our members” she shares, “and many of them are very passionate about watches. When we were considering who to partner with to better serve our members who are collectors, of course we thought of Watches of Switzerland, who is so preeminent in this space—they have such a high degree of care and service orientation with their clients, and that’s our same ethos.”
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This level of care and service was evident at the launch event. Here, Watches of Switzerland brought a remarkable selection of some of its most exceptional watches and a seasoned team of experts, including director of client relations Kelly Yoch and vice president of vintage and pre-owned timepieces James Lamdin. For a few moments, we got the Centurion Member treatment as Lamdin gave us insight into some of the watches available for purchase and a taste of the services he’ll be providing to black card holders.
“What this collection is all about is twofold,” explains Lamdin. “It’s highlighting a little bit of what Analog Shift brings to Watches of Switzerland including vintage, contemporary pre-owned, and neo vintage. But it’s also pushing the boundaries a bit with some special vintage models showcasing emerging trends like the use of precious metals and interesting dial finishes as well as some high-end independents.”
At this point, Lamdin ushered us toward the most rare and expensive timepiece of the bunch: an Akrivia AK-06. Akrivia is the brainchild of rising independent watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi. He founded the brand back in 2012 following an apprenticeship at Patek Philippe and job at F.P. Journe. Within six short years, his name had begun to garner international acclaim and in 2018, he debuted the first watch in his collection signed Rexhep Rexhepi: the Chronomètre Contemporain. This marked a new era for the Kosovar watchmaker, prompting him to retire the Akrivia nameplate in favor of his own. The Akrivia AK-06 was part of a limited run of just 50 pieces, half in steel and half in titanium, making this stainless steel model just one of 25 total examples, never to be produced again under the Akrivia moniker.
Alongside the Akrivia and other more avant-garde makers like Richard Mille and MB&F were a slew of outstanding classics. The curation included models like an Omega Ref. 2915-1 (the very first Speedy), an F.P Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Quatre (an off-catalog variant, offered only to Journe’s longstanding clients), a Portugieser Ref. 325 (one of just a few hundred examples of IWC’s first “Jumbo”), and an AP Royal Oak 5402BA (one of the earliest and most sought after references in existence).
The extraordinary launch event between Amex Centurion and Watches of Switzerland merely brushed the surface of what’s to come for black card members. According to David Hurley, President of WOS North America, this is just the beginning. “This kickoff event tonight is a wonderful start to our partnership,” he says, “but it’s what we’re going to be doing on a day to day basis for Centurion Members that we’re really passionate about. Our team will facilitate an entirely curated experience depending on the Centurion card holder. We’ll have a dedicated phone line just for members to connect with one of our experts from 7 a.m. to midnight every day, and they’ll have access to special experiences in store at one of more than 50 locations across the U.S. including both multi-brand and mono-brand boutiques.”
New York City-based Centurion Members won’t have to go far to cash in on this exclusive offering. In March, Watches of Switzerland will be opening its next outpost on the ground floor of 1 Vanderbilt, so card holders could pick up their carefully sourced watch and head straight up to the Centurion Club to show off their new timepiece while sipping a cocktail with other members. If you’re not based in NYC don’t worry. Hurley assured us that the partnership will only continue to evolve and members can expect events like the launch party to be hosted in other cities in the future.
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