As one of the first public clocks in New York City, Tiffany’s Atlas clock became a reliable time reference for generations of New Yorkers. Now the famous retailer is launching a new line of timepieces as a first step in a long-term plan to regain its position as a reference point for fine timekeeping.
Founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in New York City in 1837, the eponymous store was selling fine watches within 10 years. In 1853, Tiffany unveiled the Atlas clock above his store at 550 Broadway. The clock kept time for generations of busy New Yorkers, and it’s said to have given rise to the concept of the New York minute, a reference to a fast-paced life in a city where everything seems possible.
Known by many today for its exquisite diamonds and little blue boxes, Tiffany also enjoys a rich timekeeping history. In 1854, C.L. Tiffany signed an agreement with Patek Philippe to become the Swiss brand’s first U.S. retailer. The partnership continues, and to this day, Tiffany-dialed Patek Philippe watches are prized by collectors.
A fact that may surprise some is that Tiffany itself manufactured fine and complicated watches in Switzerland, and that the company pioneered a number of watchmaking innovations. In 1868, Tiffany imported what is believed to be the earliest chronograph into the United States. Shown below, the split-seconds “Tiffany Timer” was used for engineering and scientific purposes, as well as sporting events.
In 1874, Tiffany built a state-of-the-art, four-story watchmaking manufacture at Geneva’s Place Cornavin. The factory helped meet the increasing demand for gold pocket watches with complicated movements, including repeating watches. The following year, Tiffany received its first watchmaking patent, covering the hand-setting mechanism and an anchor escapement. Patek Philippe purchased the manufacture in 1880 and continued producing movements for Tiffany watches at that location.
By the time the United States adopted its four standard time zones in 1883, Tiffany had grown to become a world-renowned jeweler and watchmaker with a reputation for the finest craftsmanship and a commitment to customer service. Tiffany offered a weekly regulation service for over 400 clocks in New York City, building on its reputation for keeping the city on time.
In January, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s son-in-law presented him with a gift of a Tiffany watch. The following month, FDR attended the Yalta conference, wearing his new timepiece. This historically significant watch serves as a bridge between Tiffany’s watchmaking past and future.
During a recent visit to the Fifth Ave. flagship, we spoke with Nicola Andreatta, vice president and general manager of Tiffany & Co. Swiss Watches Sagl, the company Tiffany created in Switzerland to produce its new watches. Andreatta told us that the Atlas clock was the beginning of an enduring relationship between Tiffany and New York City, and that this DNA has been infused into the company’s new timepieces. For example, Tiffany brings back the “New York” designation below the company name on the dials, reaffirming the strong link between the new collection and the brand’s New York City roots.
The new collection is called CT60 – CT for Charles Tiffany, and 60 for the 60 seconds in a New York minute. However the CT60 is much more than a new line. It’s the first step on Tiffany’s journey to reclaim its place as one of the world’s leading keepers of time and tradition. Andreatta explained that the FDR watch is important for Tiffany because it represents quintessential American watch design – an open case with narrow bezel and broad dial opening, excellent legibility, a reliable and easy-to-use mechanical movement, and refined dials with different colors and levels.
The CT60 collection includes a variety of timepieces, though all are clearly cut from the same cloth. The top-of-the-line model is the CT60 Calendar. It comes in a 40mm, solid 18k rose-gold case with long, faceted lugs. Behind the silver dial is a well-finished Dubois Depraz caliber 5933 movement with a central pointer date and pointer month in a subdial at 6 o’clock. This is a limited edition of 60 individually numbered pieces, priced at $19,000.
For those seeking something a bit more sporty, there’s the 42mm CT60 Chronograph, available in steel on strap or bracelet with black, blue or silver dials, and in rose gold on strap with a brown or silver dial. The bracelets feature faceted center links that catch and reflect the light. The chronographs are powered by an automatic La Joux Perret caliber. Prices are $6,750 for the steel models on leather strap, $7,250 on a steel bracelet, and $15,000 in 18k rose gold.
Tiffany also offers the CT60 3-Hand with 40mm cases in stainless steel or solid 18k rose gold. Like the chronograph, these pieces feature a window date display at 6 o’clock. Steel models are available on strap or bracelet, with dials in gray, blue or silver. The rose gold model is available on an alligator strap with a brown or silver dial. These models are powered by an auto-wind Sellita caliber. Pricing runs from $4,750 in steel on a strap to $5,250 with a steel bracelet, to $12,000 in 18k rose gold.
For ladies, there’s a CT60 3-Hand in a 34mm size with no date. Stainless steel models on bracelets are available with grey, blue or silver dials. There’s an 18k rose gold model on strap. In both steel and gold, there is an optional bezel set with round brilliant-cut diamonds. These watches are powered by Sellita automatic-winding mechanical movements. Prices range from $4,250 in steel with no diamonds to $8,750 for steel with diamonds, and $15,500 for rose gold with diamonds.
Another collection sure to catch the eye is called East-West. Available only in steel, these rectangular pieces offer a time display that is rotated 90 degrees. The design works, and it’s sure to elicit comments. We tried it on and yes, you can tell the time at a glance. The cases measure 44 x 25mm, with black, blue or silver dials. Powered by quartz movements, this collection is priced from $3,500.
All of the new watches are Swiss-made and feature excellent attention to detail. Dials offer quality touches, such as soleil finishing and poudré numerals. Movements offer Côtes de Genève, colimaçon and perlage decoration. Front and back sapphire crystals almost disappear thanks to anti-reflective coating on both sides. We also found the watches to be very comfortable on the wrist.
During our interview, Andreatta emphasized that this is much more than simply a new collection. The CT60 line represents Tiffany’s move back to its roots. He said “The whole company is behind this new direction, from the board to the last employee, so this is going to last. We don’t want to be a jeweler making watches, but a proper watchmaker. This is a first step.” From our perspective, it’s a step in the right direction, and we’re glad to see Tiffany back in the game.
The watches are available now at Tiffany’s 296 stores in 27 countries, and through Tiffany’s official online shop.