Grand Opening Recap - February 3rd & 4th, 2012
I had the pleasure of traveling to Burlingame, California last week to help the Caplan family celebrate their Grand Opening of their newly renovated store. Brothers Rob and Russ have created an inviting, beautiful space for watch collectors and enthusiasts, and those who appreciate fine jewelry, to be welcomed in style and with warmth.
I asked Rob about the history of the store, originally founded in 1940. "Our great uncle purchased the business from the Topper brothers around 1946-7. My grandfather, Arthur Caplan went into business with my great uncle and ultimately purchased it from him. Bill Caplan, my father, began working for our grandfather Arthur in the early 1960s."
Now with a completely modernized store created by internationally acclaimed retail space designer, Henry Ballester, and complete with an all new OMEGA Shop-in-Shop, the Caplans are poised to continue the legacy of their family for many years to come.
Downtown Burlingame is a quaint, bustling area full of wonderful dining and retail destinations of multinational origins, and a pleasure to visit. Topper's storefront weaves perfectly into this cultural fabric in a most pleasing way:
Russ's wife, Mylene, creates the stores wonderful window displays that showcase a sampling of the wonders shoppers will find awaiting them inside:
At the back of the shop, the highly impressive OMEGA Shop-in-Shop awaits to showcase the brand and products, and to help educate those unfamiliar with it. The main area is shown here with the Toppers Sales and Customer Service team:
Pictured above (L-R): Aly, Nelle, Gabby, Dmitriy, Alice & Mayling Shu. Mayling is the Store Manager and has been with the Caplan family since the 1990's.
On Friday, Mathieu Lessard, Watchmaker and Service Technician for the SWATCH Group, was present. He is shown here with Russ Caplan on the left, and Rob Caplan on the right:
Mathieu set up his demonstration behind the main OMEGA display area in the private OMEGA showing room. As you enter this space, you are greeted with this stunning wall:
Mathieu, a former accountant of Canadian origin, decided he would change careers. He attended École Nationale d'Horlogerie for two years fulltime before accepting a job with the SWATCH Group. It was a total pleasure meeting him, I enjoyed chatting about his work, the path that lead him to his current position, and photographing his demo. He is shown here with the tools of his trade demonstrating assembly of a movement:
On Saturday, I helped host a collectors luncheon at Sapore Ristorante Italiano located just a few blocks away from Toppers. We also dined at Sapore the first night when we arrived, and both experiences were memorable. The food was excellent and the atmosphere inviting, I look forward to another meal there again in the future.
As a pleasant surprise to all, Toppers generously provided the meal along with an open wine & beer bar, and Bremont provided the pizza portion of the sumptuous buffet. Again, Sapore did a fantastic job with all the various dishes.
Everyone enjoyed this time with fellow enthusiasts. I hope you enjoy the following images:
The luncheon was attended by many of the watch company reps. Shown here is Mark Ofte (left), National Sales Manager for BALL with several attendees:
Our host Rob Caplan (right), with Scott Moskovitz, ANONIMO President-USA:
OMEGA's Bill Graffeld, West Coast Sales Director (far left) enjoying lunch and conversation:
This was also an opportunity for old friends to visit with each other, such as Larry (middle) with his buddy, Sawnawai Reed (right), North American Business Manager for ERNST BENZ:
My wife, Kim (far left) and our friend, Jazmin, checking out Michael's awesome Ulysse Nardin chronograph:
Michael Pearson (left), North American Sales Manager for BREMONT, enjoying conversation and his meal with Dirk:
After the meal, everyone strolled down the avenue to view the newly created Toppers and enjoy the watches, connect with the various brand representatives, and see the jewelry on display. These photos also will give you a better idea of the overall store space:
The pride that Rob and Russ's parents feel in the direction the store is taking, and the love the family has for each other, was palpable throughout my visit. You can read it on the face of their dad, Bill, shown here with Rob (L) and Russ:
Their mom, Shelley, was not available for a photo, but I did have a chance to speak with her, and she also beams with pride of her two sons accomplishments. She continues to work at the store on a regular basis along with Bill.
And one final shot with yours truly included:
I was very honored to be a part of this event, and want to thank Rob and his family for treating myself, my wife, Kim, and our friend, Jazmin, like part of their family over the three days we were there. We enjoyed our visit and appreciate your time and kindness.
I also think it is noteworthy to see the industry support that came out for this event. As partially noted above, and in my follow-up posts, the list is impressive: Scott Moskovitz of ANONIMO; Mark Ofte and Keith Scott of BALL, Michael Pearson of BREMONT; Sawnawai Reed of ERNST BENZ; Chuck Neumann of LONGINES; Bill Graffeld and Gregory Swift of OMEGA; Shawn Clary of ORIS; Roland Enderli and Alain Huy of ZENITH. We had the pleasure of spending time with most of them, both at the event and socially. They are great group of folks committed to supporting their retail partners and connecting with their customers.
The balance of this post will be by follow-up posts here, so please bear with me as I get them put up.
Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy all that I have shared.
All content © Copyright Alexander "Sam" Yukon, 2012. All rights reserved.
WATCHES (Misc.), TOPPER BLING ANGELS & JEWELRY
In addition the various brands I have featured, Topper also carries Ebel, Hamilton, Michele, Philip Stein, Rado, and Orbita & Wolf Winders. Here are just a couple of shots as I was running out of time covering the brands that were attended by the manufacturers representatives:
Topper also has an extensive selection of jewelry, and several reps were on hand, including Roberto Coin representative, Stephanie Bromley (left), shown here helping a customer while Russ looks on:
Here is some of the amazing jewelry:
Introducing the Topper Jewelers Bling Angels, (L-R) my wife Kim, long time customer and Ball Watch fan Jen, and our good friend Jazmin:
Lookin’ good ladies!!!
And more of the extensive selection of jewelry:
Roland Enderli, Sales Director-North America for ZENITH attended the event on behalf of the brand:
Here is are a few shots of the incredible inventory:
A selection of Heritage Ultra Thins:
The very special new El Primero 44mm Tourbillon Chronograph with the unique and patented date around the tourbillon carriage:
You can actually look right through the watch at the tourbillon aperture:
My wife modeling the oh my goodness nice bedazzled 33mm Heritage Ultra Thin Lady Moonphase with diamond pavé dial:
A selection of the Captain Winsor Annual Calendar Chronographs, including a wristshot of Roland’s watch:
Two of the new El Primero Chronomaster Open Power Reserve chronographs:
Shawn Clary, Regional Sales Manager-Western Region for Oris was at the event to showcase the brands products:
Like all brands Toppers carries, they have a great selection available in the showroom:
Here are some detail shots of a few pieces from the collection. First, a Pre-Basel showing of their new 2011 RAID Chronograph, a limited edition of 500 pieces as a tribute to the RAID series of motoring events held each year (Switzerland - Paris):
Their limited edition Carlos Coste diver with matte ceramic bezel:
Ladies diver Aquis Date, a great sport piece with ceramic bezel:
The very cool and unique BC4 Retrograde Day:
And the TT1, the latest addition to the Motosport line with matte ceramic bezel insert:
With Toppers new OMEGA Shop-in-Shop, the brand is prominently represented with an outrageously nice selection of pieces. Here we have Russ (left) holding the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Omega Co-Axial Chronograph #318.104.22.168.01.002, and Rob holding his cherished 357250 from the early 2000’s with a sapphire caseback and Hesalite crystal:
And few close-ups of the new Speedmaster with the help of Russ and my wife Kim:
… and the drop-dead ridiculously nice 9300 movement:
This watch is hot. Here are the tech specs off the OMEGA website:
Speedmaster Moonwatch Omega Co-Axial Chronograph #322.214.171.124.01.002 in a 44.25 mm case featuring the Omega 9300 Caliber: Self-winding chronograph movement with column wheel mechanism and Co-Axial Escapement for greater precision stability and durability of the movement. Silicon balance-spring on free sprung-balance, 2 barrels mounted in series, automatic winding in both directions to reduce winding time. Rhodium plated finish with exclusive Geneva waves in arabesque. Power reserve: 60 hours
And for you Planet Ocean fans, a comparison shot of the new Planet Ocean Big Size 126.96.36.199.01.001 (left) compared to the previous model:
The new model has a ceramic bezel insert, raised 12-6-9 indices, screwed link bracelet, and a deeper-black dial. Here are the movement tech specs off the OMEGA website:
Caliber: Omega 8500. Self-winding movement with Co-Axial Escapement for greater precision stability and durability. Free sprung-balance, 2 barrels mounted in series, automatic winding in both directions to reduce winding time. Visible bridges and the oscillating mass are decorated with exclusive Geneva waves in arabesque. Power reserve: 60 hours
A boxed set Speedmaster Moonwatch “Apollo 15” 40th Anniversary Limited Edition:
Again, we volunteered our friend Jazmin to model this elegant De Ville Ladymatic in red gold with a snow-set diamond bezel and MOP supernova dial:
Again, she was very, very sad to take this beauty off. This is not only aesthetically pleasing watch, but technically advanced. Movement specs are: Caliber: Omega 8521. Self-winding movement with Co-Axial Escapement for greater precision stability and durability. Free sprung-balance system with silicon balance-spring. Automatic winding in both directions to reduce winding time. Oscillating mass and balance bridge in red gold. Luxury finish with exclusive Geneva waves in arabesque. Power reserve: 50 hours
Chuck Neumann, Regional Sales Manager for LONGINES was available for people to speak with about the wide range of offerings from the brand. He is shown here on the right:
Toppers always has an impressive inventory of Longines on display:
And some of the wonderful pieces on hand. First, the 2011 Master Moonphase stainless steel & sold 18kt gold chronograph on bracelet:
Master Quadruple Retrograde:
Note: I have been eyeing one of these since they were first introduced, but had read the scales were too difficult to read being so small. After seeing one in person, I had no problem reading off the info.
The Legend Diver with date in red gold, very sharp:
And the Heritage Column Wheel Chronograph, also a sharp looking piece with some serious technical virtuosity in an approachable price range:
Longines has long been one of my very favorite brands, and after this event, I see no reason for that to change anytime soon!
Toppers has a wonderful inventory on hand for those wanting to see the various offerings from this favorite brand of collectors worldwide:
Here are a few detail shots of pieces that caught my eye. First, the PanoInverse XL:
The Senator Chronometer in rose gold (so nice):
The Senator Perpetual Calendar in red gold (another killer nice piece):
And the Senator Diary in rose gold which allows the user to set an alarm up to 30 days ahead of time:
Sawnawai Reed, North American Business Manager for ERNST BENZ, brought his usual passion and gentlemanly manner to those wanting to know more about the brand:
Here are a few shots of the wonderful selection Toppers has on hand:
Here is a Pre-Basel showing of two of their new DLC cased pieces. First, the Chronoscope GC10116-DLC:
Unlike some other brands, they DLC treat the casebacks as well:
And the new Chronosport GC40219-DLC (really sharp!):
And our friend Jazmin volunteered to model this incredibly beautiful Chronolunar #GC20332 stainless steel case with MOP dial and diamond bezel:
Needless to say, she was very sad to take it off!
Michael Pearson, North American Sales Manager for BREMONT was on hand. He is a constant source of energy and highly enthusiastic, and a pleasure to be around. He is shown here (left), with myself (middle) and Rob Caplan (right):
Of course, Toppers had a wonderful selection on display in Bremont’s distinctive point-of-purchase rack:
Here are a few shots of their new Hybrid WorldTimer with Military Bases indications #ALT-1WT:
The regular production piece will have the familiar world cities.
The almost sold out P-51:
The quintessential trio of Bremont showcasing Classicism, Military Chronometers & Dive Series pieces:
I have to say this, the more time I spend with Bremont watches, and the people behind the brand, the more I want one in my personal stable. These watches are wonderfully designed, well built, and highly desirable.
Mark Ofte, National Sales Manager for BALL Watch USA was helpful and friendly to everyone interested in learning more about the brand and it’s history:
In addition to the amazing inventory Toppers has for the brand, pieces from the Ball Museum were on display:
Here is a one example of a limited production of Ball Watches produced in 1892 using a Hamilton movement bearing the train conductors union logo:
Hereare a few modern pieces. First up, their Engineer II Red Label GMT COSC:
And the one that stole the show for me, their Limited Edition Flying Scotsman, absolutely gorgeous:
Scott Moskovitz, ANONIMO's President for the U.S., was on hand to speak with collectors about their products.
Toppers has a great selection of ANONIMO on display, and I really enjoyed seeing them and speaking with Scott:
Here are a few close-ups of various pieces. Their bronzed cased Marlin Diver:
San Marco Unit Drass:
CNS Professionale Limited Edition of 50 pieces:
Case side with pressure bolts U-Lock system: