It’s an intriguing incongruity for those with a catholic appreciation of luxury living: whilst putting beautiful apparel in a regular wardrobe scarcely feels like sacrilege, and a mint condition 1960s Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato feels positively in situ in a rusty corrugated iron barn, it feels imperative that watches and jewellery must be kept in storage that, both aesthetically and in terms of safeguarding and preservation, does them justice. That’s the underpinning philosophy of WOLF, the British (but California-based) family-run heritage brand that has been handcrafting jewellery cases and watch storage solutions since 1834.
The company motto, “Protect Your Legacy”, alludes to the notion that heirlooms’ current owners are merely their custodians and belong, too, to future generations. So it’s apposite, for a company so passionately devoted to posterity, that the founder Philipp Wolf I’s great-great-grandson, current heir Simon Wolf, is the fifth generation of the family to take custody of its heritage: and he’d be the first to agree that, thanks to more than 185 years of innovation and pursuit of perfection, WOLF’s latter-day R&D team is standing on the shoulders of giants. This is what enables them to take WOLF’s products — both aesthetically and operationally — to giddier new heights with each passing decade.
In Safe Custody
A neat example of this form-and-function interplay is the bespoke Churchill Safe Collection. Named in deference to the wartime British Prime Minister’s dogged determination to defend and protect, its security credentials are bolstered by its nine bidirectional steel bolts and secure electronic keypads by world-class American high-security hardware company Sargent and Greenleaf, while a choice between various top-grain cowhide leathers and rare woods ensures a bespoke element. It’s a perfect testimony to WOLF’s ability to marry form and function without an iota of compromise to either.
Perfectly encapsulating WOLF’s approach to robustness, meanwhile, is the Atlas Safe Collection, which comes in either onyx or titanium American steel and is tested for fire resistance at 927 degrees Celsius for two hours (it’s also dropped from a height of 10 metres to test its response to impact, and its door is sealed with a Palusol fire seal which expands to eight times its original size).
You can see immediately why WOLF’s products — renowned for melding clean, contemporary lines with subtle nods to the visual cues of yesteryear — catch the eye of interior designers the world over by examining offerings like the British Racing Green range. This includes single, double and triple watch winders as well as units for eight to 10-piece collections and watch rolls, and sees the iconic hue associated with the UK’s motorsport endeavours of yore rendered in vegan-friendly pebble-grained leather, with details such as hand-pressed gold foil lines and accents completing the effect.
On the technical front, WOLF has always stayed ahead of the pack with innovations such as directional control and start delays. Indeed, Simon Wolf likens making watch winders — whose purpose is to emulate the subtle movements of a wearer’s wrist, so that the self-winding mechanisms carry out their timekeeping duties when the watch is not on the wrist — to making watches: it involves the intricate assembly of hundreds of components to create something that is as effective and accurate as possible. Hence, while most winding devices base rotations on an approximation of how many rotations automatic watches need per day, WOLF’s patented algorithms — controlled via Bluetooth from a dedicated app — operate to the optimum number of turns specific to each timepiece contained therein.
“Ah,” the pedant might say, “but watch maintenance isn’t just about cogs, gears and levers.” What about the tarnishing effects air has on metal over time? When it comes to both watches and jewellery, WOLF has that covered with its patented LusterLoc technology, which resides in the fabric lining of the storage units and cases, absorbing all airborne agents which are detrimental to jewellery and watches’ lustre. It protects items, and maintains their sheen, for up to 35 years.
Evoking the Past
The brand’s dedication to its own heritage was neatly encapsulated by a collaboration, earlier this year, with Analog/Shift, a New York-based vendor of vintage and contemporary timepieces. This initiative drew from WOLF’s archives to create pieces such as the Flatiron II 5-Piece Watch Box (an urban citizen’s dresser-top storage solution characterised by brass hardware, subtle mitre joints, contrasting hardwood splines and a beautifully bevelled display top) and the Vintage Collection, a 10-piece watch storage box and a watch strap valet tray, finished in vibrant green with gold trim, paying tribute to a WOLF design from the 1950s and 1960s.
The passing on of stories is, of course, integral to “Protect Your Legacy”, and WOLF’s dedication to meaningful narrative and its safe passage through time is neatly typified by its My Legacy campaign earlier this year. This encouraged customers to share affecting stories about their personal watch and jewellery heirlooms online. The campaign embraced and shared heartwarming chronicles such as that of a dancer who travels around the world performing with the English Ballet carrying her grandmother’s diamond stud earrings, to remind her of her distant family, and another concerning a Holocaust survivor who learned the horological arts while incarcerated in a Second World War concentration camp.
WOLF’s core philosophy, of which that “Protect Your Legacy” dictum is a distillation, is based on a quote from its founder: “It is logical to protect one’s possessions by storing and safeguarding them in a fine quality box.” The extent to which five generations have honed, smelted and polished this philosophy, and evolved the brand so that it doesn’t just stand but thrives through the test of time, is a truly fitting legacy — a legacy that has striking poetic resonance with the actual purpose of the products in question.