Depending on design features, quality of materials and mechanical complications, “A watch can serve so many more purposes than indicating the time,” says Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon and podcaster Jay Calvert, M.D., who wears Rolex, Cartier and Bulgari watches. Dr. Calvert, and the other professionals interviewed for this article variously use their Swiss watches to manage health and fitness, track phases of the moon, plus facilitate relaxation, meditation and stress management techniques. What’s more, people are also lifting their moods and using their Swiss watches to remain positive and productive in this, the third year of the psychically challenging COVID pandemic.
“Time is the fundamental currency of life,” says Eugene Tutunikov, CEO of the online e-tailer SwissWatchExpo.com, which typically carries 2,500 watches in its inventory. “Every day we are spending time that can never be earned back. I imagine that some of the people who highly value every day of their lives are inspired to wear and use Swiss watches for more than staying on time,” Tutunikov ventures. “Our customers choose pre-owned Swiss watches for reasons of visual and material aesthetics, weatherproofing, nostalgia, personal style and environmental sustainability. Our sales staff is finding is that many of the men and women we serve rely on their watches for living healthier and happier lives.”
Someone who embodies this perfectly is Dr. Calvert, who explains, “When I’m working out, the second hand on my 1986 Rolex Oyster Perpetual helps me get another reading on my heart rate whenever my FitBit seems inaccurate. So I use my Rolex to confirm or refute the FitBit reading.” Dr. Calvert’s Rolex also comes in handy while he records each one of his two podcasts. “Every week,” he explains, “I co-host The Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Podcast with Dr. Millicent Rovelo, which gets about 3,000 downloads per week. I enjoy informing people about what I do and how it can help them. While I use my smartphone to record,” he continues, “I stand my Rolex up and use it as a clock while we record.”
As passionate as he is about performing plastic surgery, Dr. Calvert is also such an enthusiastic hockey fan that he presents the Doctor Hockey podcast with neurologist and pain management specialist Jason Berkley, DO. In between interviewing everyone from NHL team general managers, NHL hockey players and television play-by-play announcers like Steve Mears, who calls The Pittsburgh Penguins for AT & T Sports Net Pittsburgh, Dr. Calvert explains, “I use my Rolex to structure how long we spend discussing various medical conditions. We get about 8,000 downloads a week.”
In the realm of yoga, mindfulness training and yoga therapy, “A fine watch can serve as a mindfulness tool that helps you relax, says Malibu, CA.-based yoga instructor Michelle Kronenberg, who is also a certified mindfulness facilitator through the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. “During the last two years of the COVID pandemic, many of us have been struggling with feelings of fear, stress, doubt and anxiety,” Kronenberg says. “Experiencing these feelings is normal, as they are a mind/body response to danger. How we respond to these feelings, however,” she continues, “determines how much we allow them to affect our minds, bodies and behaviors.”
A certified yoga therapist credentialed by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, Kronenberg is also certified by the Yoga Alliance as a senior yoga teacher. While leading yoga retreats and offering private classes, she wears a vintage Cartier Santos that was gifted to her by a family member. “My students and I use watches to keep track of time while holding yoga poses and doing breathing exercises,” she continues. “Certain poses,” she explains, “must be held for a specific duration in order to elicit the Relaxation Response, which is the medically proven condition during which blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning, and hormonal function reach optimal balance and hence you feel calmer and at rest.” To reduce anxiety, for example, Kronenberg suggests spending five minutes lying on your back with your legs up against the wall. “This pose is called Viparita Karani, or legs up the wall,” she notes.
Kronenberg also suggests using your watch to track breathing exercises that can help you feel naturally refreshed and promote a calmer state of mind. “Use your watch to track inhalations that last four seconds long, and exhalations that last for eight. Spend a few minutes doing this,” Kronenberg suggests, “and it will infuse your body with energizing oxygen.” Like Kronenberg, Miami-based swimming instructor and vintage clothing dealer Keni Valenti uses his watch to manage time in the water and to stay safe when tropical thunderstorms strike. “Miami experiences frequent thunder and lightning storms and hurricane season runs from June to the end of November,” Valenti notes. “Because I spend a few hours every day on the beach, walking around my neighborhood or in my outdoor pool, I often find myself outdoors at the start of a storm.”
Valenti uses his steel Cartier Tank Française Chronoflex chronograph to time lightning strikes. As soon as lightning hits, for instance, “I use my watch to count the number of seconds between a lightning flash and the crack of thunder that follows it. Then I divide that number by five,” he explains. “The resulting number tells me how many miles away I am from where lightning just struck. A five second count means that the lightning landed one mile away, and a 10-second count means the lightning hit two miles away.” According to Valenti, “Using a watch during storms tells you when to take cover or get inside as soon as possible. I like the way my Cartier chronograph looks and keeps time, but I also love how my pre-owned Hublot Big Bang helps me stay safe.” Valenti also owns bubble-shaped, Swiss-made Spaceman watches from the 1960s and 70s and a Jaeger-Le Coultre moon phase watch. “It helps me plan when to host full moon barbecues and pool parties,” Valenti notes.
Wellness professional Jen Longtin, vice-president of marketing for Seattle-based PURE Juicer, say that wearing a mechanical watch is emotionally preferable to wearing a smartwatch. As Longtin observes, “I have always prioritized my health, but when I started tracking my vitals with a smartwatch, I found myself becoming anxious about what the device was telling me. Ironically, wearing a smartwatch caused me more stress than it was worth.”
After joining PURE Juicer, Longtin bought a waterproof and ‘juiceable’ Swiss watch with a large dial that she could easily read through fruit and vegetable juice splatters. “In my job,” she relates, “I demonstrate how to make juice with fruit and vegetables and interact with people all day. So my juice-proof Victorinox Swiss mechanical watch simplifies my life.”
Looking at luxury watch dials is a much more satisfying visual experience than looking at computer and mobile phone screens, says Nancy Trent, whose New York-based public relations firm Trent & Company has directed marketing campaigns for such Swiss watch companies as Philip Stein. “Whether the watch has Arabic or Roman numerals,” Trent maintains, “a classic watch dial gives our eyes and minds a rest from the monotonous visuals of all our digital devices. I am devoted to my Cartier watch, which was a gift, and to my Philip Stein watch, which makes me feel energized and ready to move forward into the mysteries of existence.”
As model, actress and filmmaker Gia Skova notes, watches and the concept of time are tools that help us make sense of our existence. “Time was created to mark the movement of the planets in the heavens. The only time that matters to me is the present time,” she asserts. “But my Rolex watch…it exists. It is real. My watch is a statement of style that reminds me of the present. From the present one can create the future, and the future consists of endless time. My watch marks both the passage of time and the movement of the heavens into the future.”
On a more pragmatic plane, for formal occasions, the right watch can elevate an outfit to greater heights and confer talismanic power. Dr. Calvert relates with a sense of wonder that some of his patients have given him Swiss watches in gratitude for his surgical services. “My 2003 Cartier Roadster was given to me by a patient and it completes my outfit whenever I’m wearing a tuxedo, cuff links and shirt studs,” he says. “I like the look and feel of its thickness and heft. I attend various black tie charity events, so this watch is a perfect accessory to complete the look.” After he did a rhinoplasty for a Saudi construction magnate, Dr. Calvert recalls, “He was so pleased with my work that he gave me an 18-karat rose gold Bulgari night and day chronograph. This dramatic watch is a style statement that I like to wear when I have an important meeting.”
While Dr. Calvert’s Bulgari and Roadster remain lovely souvenirs of gracious and generous patients, everyone interviewed for this article agreed that watches that have been given as gifts serve as treasured talismans that happen to tell the time. As Simon Philip Wolf V attests, “I come from a family that has crafted watch winders and watch storage for generations, so wearing a watch keeps me connected to my legacy as I celebrate building new memories in life and reaching new milestones in the family business.” As the CEO of WOLF, a fifth-generation, family-owned company that’s been designing and creating watch boxes, watch safes, watch winders, watch rolls and jewelry boxes since 1834, he notes, “I have a lot of watches with a focus on the automatic variety, but I especially treasure a 1964 Omega from my wife Fiona, and a timepiece passed down from my father.” A wristwatch is an essential part of a person’s style, Wolf continues, “and a fine watch completes an outfit and also says a lot about the wearer and what they value.”
Speaking of value, while SwissWatchExpo.com’s 2021 sales exceeded those of 2020 by 60 percent, Tutunikov adds that, “While everyone knows that time is precious, many watches, especially those from prestige Swiss brands, become even more valuable on the secondary market with each passing year. Certain models from elite brands like Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Patek Phillipe have sold out from their authorized dealers and are in such high demand that the only way to obtain one is either by purchasing one on the secondary market, or signing up on a dealer waiting list.”