Many of you that are regular readers of The Watch Lounge, and indeed any number of other well known publications, will no doubt already be familiar with the name Meehna Goldsmith. Not only are we fortunate enough to have her contribute to this on-line magazine, she also writes for a number of other exceptional outlets, such as the Financial Times and HH, the official magazine of the Fondation de la Haute Horologerie. Some of you may even have taken advantage of her exclusive services as highly respected timepiece consultant and stylist.
Meehna is held in the highest esteem by major players in the industry, not only for her in-depth knowledge and extensive experience, but also for her professional and positive attitude. And so it is with great pleasure that we take this opportunity to provide you with an exclusive insight into the life of this most charming and accomplished woman.
We hope you enjoy!
TWL: How did you get your first start in the watch industry?
MG: I trace my journey in the watch industry to a bit over five years ago. I started out as an enthusiast really. I wanted to buy myself a serious watch so I began hanging out on the forums to educate myself. After some time passed, a person asked a question I thought I could help answer. After posting my response, a note arrived in my personal email box from a very well respected watchmaker who has been in the business over 30 years. He said my writing was so articulate, educational and entertaining and that most watch writing tended to be rather dull. Had I ever considered writing about watches professionally?
Well, I was pretty flattered and decided to give it a try, not really thinking it would become my fulltime profession. My first published article was on Ulysse Nardin’s the Freak, which is an extremely technical watch. I still can’t believe I took this on as my first attempt! If I had actually thought to myself, I’m going to gain credibility writing about watches, I would have been too intimidated to move forward. Needless to say, this one electronic missive changed my life.
Ulysse Nardin’s “The Freak”; a complex masterpiece.
TWL: What drives your passionate interest in luxury watches?
MG: I’ve been fascinated by watches since I was a young girl. I still find myself inexplicably drawn to them and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Those little mechanisms are so enchanting and technically mesmerizing, particularly when you get into the more complex constructions. And that’s just the movements. When well done, the dials are miniature portraits of time. More than just being a beautiful piece of kinetic sculpture, I also love the symbolic significance held in a watch. It goes beyond a numeric tracking. Within those ticking hours, minutes and seconds are held the stories of our lives.
As for focusing on luxury watches, well, I’ve always been attracted to quality. My parents used to complain, “Meehna always wants the best of everything.” I prefer one great and meaningful piece to a few mediocre ones across the board. I want to really love, appreciate and cherish something and I’m willing to wait to get what I want. There’s just a different quality and aura when you’re dealing with luxury watches. You can see and feel it in the design, construction, movement finishing, and choice of materials. What differentiates a luxury watch is longevity; it’s made with thought, care and to last. Somebody loved it before I did. That feeling needs to be there. Most important, I think that the right luxury watch imbues you with power. It’s subtle but it’s there.
TWL: Not only are you a well-respected professional watch journalist and speaker, but you’re also a luxury timepiece consultant and stylist. How did this all come about and how do you find time to fit it all in?
MG: The idea to work as watch matchmaker, which is what I realized I’m doing, came about gradually. People began asking me for my advice on which watches to wear or purchase. I thought there are consultants for wine, for art and for clothes, why not for watches? Particularly in the styling arena, watches are pushed into the same category as fashion. Watches are a different discipline altogether. It really makes me flinch when I see an actor in a film, or a model in a magazine dressed to great effect—and then they are wearing the wrong watch! You’ve got this whole scenario carefully thought out in terms of projecting an environment, image, style, personality and mood and then there’s a watch that absolutely doesn’t go with the look and feel of the whole. It’s like a fly crash-landing in my soup. It ruins the whole meal for me.
And to your questions, how do I manage such a hectic schedule? You know the old saying, If you want something done, give it to a busy person. I subscribe to that notion. The busier I am, the more productive I get!
TWL: Can you talk us through the role you play as a luxury timepiece consultant and stylist?
MG: Working as a consultant and stylist is really matchmaking a person to the proper watch. I want to get to know whom I’m working with. What is their style? Are they somebody who likes a trendy fashionable look that announces, “I am here” with flash and dash or do they like something more low key and under the radar, a piece that the cognoscenti will nod their heads and know what it is. What type of music do you listen to, what are your hobbies, habits, what environment do you work in, do you like reading twisty mysteries or the latest serious biography of a historical figure, even perhaps if you’re a dog or a cat person. All these things let me know about a person.
Another crucial factor is, what does the person want the watch for? Is it an everyday piece or one for more formal occasions? Watches have a personality and certainly putting one on one person’s wrist will have a different effect than when it’s on another. The two combine to make your own unique statement. Moreover, the relationship between a person and his or her watch is very personal. You wear the watch next to your body on your wrist, which is an erogenous zone. You want to make the right decision.
TWL: Who are your clients? Are they experienced collectors with specific ideas of what they want, novices requiring some guidance, or a mix of both?
MG: I get a mix of both. I enjoy working with experienced collectors because it’s an active conversation and I love the exchange of ideas. They usually know what they want and really just want to talk through what they’re thinking about buying and confirm it’s the right choice for them. For me, it’s really fun to work with someone who has style, expertise and sophistication in other areas but doesn’t have a lot of knowledge or awareness about timepieces outside of the big brands that spend a fortune on advertising. That’s not to say there aren’t some solid timepieces from those brands. However, I enjoy opening people’s eyes to other possibilities, providing them the opportunity to be unique with their choice rather than just follow the pack.
TWL: What factors do you take in consideration when advising a client on the purchase of a new timepiece?
MG: I take into consideration a lot of factors, including a client’s style, personality and the statement he or she wants to make. Also, it’s important to know what environment my client wants to wear the watch in. You don’t wear a sport watch to the opera or take a perpetual calendar to the beach. I like to set up realistic expectations, just like in any relationship. Of course, I also advise on what I feel are best choices within a price range. Very few of us have unlimited budgets, myself included, sadly!
TWL: How do they find you? Is it mostly word of mouth recommendations or do you actively advertise your services?
MG: Mostly people have come to me through word of mouth or have found me on the internet through my writing or when there is something written about me. I haven’t yet done any formal advertising of my services.
TWL: What has been the most memorable client purchase you have been involved in and why?
MG: My most memorable client purchase came completely randomly. A doctor from Minnesota contacted me recently. He had read my work and found me on the internet, where he started following my blog. He liked what I had to say and my perspective on watches, so he thought it would be a fun experience to have me help him choose another watch to add to his collection. He really took to the watch matchmaker concept. He thought it was original and special and he liked the high level of personalized service. We did the whole process via phone and email. What made this client so special is that he trusted me without having met me. My knowledge, reputation and writing stood on their own merit. I’m a sentimental person and that meant a lot to me. Plus, this guy is really a super person. I feel like I made a new friend.
TWL: Who, in your opinion, are the top three up-and-coming brands or watch-makers to watch (no pun intended) and why?
MG: This is a tough one, Tom. The luxury watch market offers a lot of choice and yet it’s a tight field with lots of brands vying for attention. What I look for in a brand is something they do better or different to make them stand out in a positive way, whether it’s design, philosophy, or an interesting approach or mechanism. I also love a great story behind a watchmaker or brand. With that said, I’ll take a stab at it.
It might surprise you to hear me say Cartier. Although a historic name and a producer of watches and iconic designs for over a century, up until the last few years, Cartier was not a movement maker. In terms of combining both design and interesting mechanisms and materials (at their own manufacture), they are an up-and-comer in my book. Under the leadership of Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Cartier has released exciting technical implementations while staying true to their beautiful and characteristic aesthetic.
I think Hublot is going to be another one to watch. With the new manufacture and the talent acquired from BNB, not to mention the forward-thinking Jean-Claude Biver at the helm, Hublot is poised to show us some interesting things. Plus, I think they’ve done some wonderful women’s watches, combining technical aspects with pieces that are colorful and pretty as statement accessories. I’m a big proponent of women and haute horlogerie and like to open up women to the beauty of mechanical movements.
And, my next choice is an independent: Roger Smith. He creates a true handmade watch, piece by piece in his workshop on the Isle of Man. He comes from the pocket watch tradition so you can appreciate the 3-D architecture of his work without a loupe. Many of the greatest horologic achievements came from Englishmen and these men inspire Roger. His goal is to revive the English watchmaking tradition. Let me tell you I’m revived by his watches. I can only hope to own one some day. They don’t come cheap!
Meehna with independent watch-maker extraordinaire Roger Smith.
Before I bring this question to a close, I must mention the clockmaker David Walter. He’s a watchmaker too, so I think it still counts. David does the most magnificent clocks and he makes all his own parts, even cuts and grinds his own sapphire in his workshop. He creates truly amazing technological mechanisms that update a clock to a must-have modern piece, in my opinion. I certainly covet owning one of them.
TWL: What advice do you have for would-be collectors who are looking to purchase their first serious piece?
MG: Buy the watch magazines, spend time on the forums and blogs and learn. Find out what your taste is and trust it from an aesthetic perspective. Don’t let other people convince you what is the hottest or coolest thing. Only you know what will suit you best. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like your choice. There are always naysayers, just like with a piece of clothing art or even a mate. You’ll know when you’ve found your proper match. Trust yourself. I’d also emphasize waiting until you can afford that quality piece that makes you excited. Don’t just buy something mediocre because you’re impatient or think this watch will be alright for now. That doesn’t mean you need to spend tens of thousands of dollars either—though it’s nice to have that budget because it gets really interesting and exciting at this level. You can get some really good stuff to start a collection at around 4-5K plus or minus.
TWL: Finally, a favorite question of ours, what watch is on your wrist right now and why?
MG: I’m wearing a Parmigiani Kalpa Grande Limited Edition Quality Fleurier. I’m a fan of the Parmigiani brand. I think they do top quality finishing, are very exclusive and a bit under the radar, which appeals to me. In my opinion, this watch is very sleek and classic. It has design elements based upon Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio too, which I find interesting, a bit intellectual and romantic at the same time. Plus, I like the technical aspects of it having to pass the Quality Fleurier test to get the seal. It’s harder to pass than the test for the Geneva Seal.
For all the latest information from Meehna and to request her superb services as a luxury timepiece consultant please visit her comprehensive and regularly updated website: www.meehnagoldsmith.com