If the beatification of timepieces could be deemed a globally recognised creed — Organised Horologism, if you will — what buildings might qualify as holy sites? Any number of architecturally eclectic constructions dotted around the Jura mountains would claim to occupy consecrated ground, not least Bjarke Ingels’ spiralling Musée Atelier museum designed for Audemars Piguet. Until 2020, for a few days each year, exhibition centres in Basel and Geneva became watch worshippers’ equivalent of the Vatican, Kaaba, Akal Takht Sahib and the Mahabodhi Temple. Glashütte and Besançon draw plenty of pilgrims, and horological faith tourists would never visit London without a reverential saunter around Clerkenwell.
Europe, in other words, is replete with potential. Though if you’re the kind of worshipper who achieves spiritual enlightenment through the tactile experience of trying out the gamut of brands’ latest (and former) offerings on the wrist, you’re better off crossing the Atlantic and carrying out a pilgrimage of the four Westime boutiques (three in Southern California and one in Miami) while also taking in their plethora of mono-brand retail spaces for the likes of Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Hublot and Breitling, which stretch from the West Coast to New York via Vegas.
Westime’s President, Greg Simonian, whose father, John, opened the company’s first branch in 1987 on L.A.’s West Side, is the fourth generation of his family to forge an horological career path. “For me, watches are more of a hereditary disease than a bug to catch — I literally grew up on the floor of my parents’ first watch boutiques here in Los Angeles,” he says. He insists that all such pilgrims — his flock — make for a miscellaneous bunch, united by their faith. “Westime’s clients are actually quite diverse, whether you look at the number of watches they buy, the occasion for shopping for a watch, and of course the type of watch they are seeking,” he tells The Rake. “Since our sales professionals have been with Westime and within the watch industry for so many years, they are true experts about watches on both the technical level, and a more historical level. From well-known brands to niche independent watch brands, they’re able to share the knowledge that any client is seeking about a potential watch purchase.”