Two Great Rites of Spring: Sotheby’s Showhouse and Madison Avenue Watch Week

Spring has clearly sprung on both “coasts” of Manhattan — judging by the sheer number of tulip Instagrams popping up this week. From the East Side Park Avenue flower beds to their West Side fields of Central Park counterparts, those sunny yellow flowers are certainly a welcoming sight. This week I attended two other noteworthy harbingers of Spring: Madison Avenue Watch Week (now through April 20) and Sotheby’s At Home Designer Showhouse and Auction (on view to the public now, auction set for April 17).

Ormond Gigli New York City (Girls in the Window) Living Room

I began my Wednesday with an early morning guided tour of the Sotheby’s Showhouse. This is the third year that Sotheby’s has presented this treasure (the first time I’m seeing it however), with the purpose of illustrating and demystifying the auction if, let’s just say, you’re not a Trump, and don’t have millions to spend. Many pieces of furniture, artwork and decorative accessories are estimated at $1,000 to $2,000, some offered without reserves, which means you theoretically could score them quite inexpensively if no one else is bidding.

Csongor Kis, Assistant Vice President and Specialist at the European Furniture Department, who conducted the tour, pointed out that there is a far greater resale value in furnishings with a provenance as opposed to buying that brand new reproduction piece which, much like a car, completely devalues the minute you “drive it off the lot.”

Bunny William’s Living Room

Furthermore, by combining, for example, American mid-century modern furnishings with the paintings of the Old Masters; Andy Warhol with European antiques; 40’s Art Deco with Bohemian kitsch, it is possible to tastefully and quite interestingly express different aspects of your personality while making a unique statement with your eclectic living environment. Mr. Kis remarked on how furniture normally intended for one use can be appropriated for other uses, such as in the Jenny Wolf Interiors breakfast room space where a Louis XVI mahogany armoire serves as a china cabinet.

Zaha Hadid Gyre Lounge Chair

Taking a stroll through the 12-room house featuring the work of these well-known designers, several of whom were in attendance, is guaranteed to spark your own creativity. Most items are part of the upcoming auction including several extremely special pieces such as the Zaha Hadid “Gyre” lounge chair from the “Seamless” series. This piece, featured in designer Sandra Nunnerly’s family room, is estimated at $30,000 to $50,000, however that was before Ms. Hadid’s recent death; a factor that may cause this piece to skyrocket. This may be an esoteric reference but if you’ve ever watched Kim Cattrall’s Canadian TV series “Sensitive Skin,” (set to air its second season beginning May 15), the Hadid piece reminds me of the white “couch”– it’s actually more like a sculpture– which she selects for her condo.

Gold leaf Yves Klein Table

The showhouse contains three Yves Klein tables (designed in 1963), a royal blue one in the CRD Associates pantry bar, a gold one in the Bunny Williams living room and a hot pink one in Fawn Galli Interiors gallery. These are of note because they arrive as clear square plexiglass tables until the individual flecks of color or pieces of gold leaf are added on site by someone equipped with tweezers and a mask, so as not to inhale the silica.

Patrick Mele Withdrawing Room

My award for the best named space goes hands-down to Patrick Mele’s “Withdrawing Room” which features Jeremy Scott-esque graffiti draped walls along with some truly inspired choices in artwork and furnishings, from the neoclassical urns and carved giltwood Tuscan mirrors (Circa 1740), to the Gaetano Pesce red circular mod sofa (circa 1969). Don’t miss the brilliant use of tarot cards applied to the otherwise unappealing doors in the space. During the opening party there was a tarot card reader in the room just to drive the theme home.

Robert Passal Master Bedroom

The Robert Passal Interiors master bedroom, while jam packed with furniture (which many at Sotheby’s didn’t think would even fit in the room), creates a very restful, relaxing mood. The “scribbled on walls” are a great touch to offset the serenity of the otherwise muted colors.

Shirley Temple Blue Diamond

If you go to Sotheby’s any time from Friday until noon on Tuesday, be sure to see the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond which will be auctioned on April 19. This 9.54 fancy deep blue diamond ring was purchased by Shirley Temple’s father for $7,210 when she was 12 to celebrate the premier of her 1940 movie “The Blue Bird.” The round blue stone set with surrounding white diamonds which she wore throughout her life, is now estimated to sell for between $25M to $35M!

My next stop was at the Plaza Athenee for a quick press breakfast before hitting up the 6th Annual Madison Avenue Watch Week. This year, 13 of the world’s premiere watch retailers and brands (located between 57th and 86th Streets) are previewing their newest and most exceptional timepieces, many fresh off their recent debut at Baselworld and SIHH in Switzerland and now on view for the first time in North America.

Faberge Lady Compliquee Peacock Watches

Don’t miss Faberge’s Grand Prix winning Lady Compliquee Peacock (which ruffles it’s feathers on the hour!) and comes in exquisite color choices This watch is based on the ever surprising genius of Peter Carl Faberge and his “Peacock Egg” of 1908 which featured a walking, fanning peacock. There’s also a Lady Levity which features an almost holographic mother-of-pearl dial with a moon face that can only be seen in certain light. This design was modeled after one of the first Faberge alarm clocks.

Chopard Happy Diamonds Sport Watch

Chopard is celebrating several anniversaries with special editions of the L.U.C. (Louis-Ulysse Chopard) 1860 (20 year anniversary) with new updated XPS versions in rose gold or stainless steel, as well as the 40 year anniversary of the Happy Diamonds Women’s Sport Watch. New for this year:  the free floating, fairmined diamonds are prong set on the inside of the face to give even more sparkle.

Hublot Baseball Watch

Hublot, not known for understated watches, has plenty to ogle including something just perfect for the season: a baseball watch. Made predominately for the Asian market (the sport is huge in Japan and Hublot’s biggest store is in Ginza), only one such $18,300 watch is available here. I love how the band is stitched to replicate a baseball!

Freywille Watches

Other stores not to miss: F.P. Journe’s 25th anniversary of the men’s Visionnaire Flying Tourbillon watch, (this is a big deal and Mr. Journe himself is coming here to celebrate next Tuesday for three days); Montblanc’s Orbis Terrarum watch which gives you the whole world in 24 time zones while actually showing night time/day time in dual hemispheres on your wrist; the colorful enamel watches which can be customized at Freywille; and the affordable Espresso watches (they’re the circumference of a cup of espresso) at Diesel.

Madison Avenue Watch Week is presented by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), sponsored by The Wall Street Journal and supported by the Horological Society of New York. For more information, go to .

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.