GaryG Goes To Paris To Pick Up Custom Boucheron Cufflinks Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Ah, Paris! City of Lights, Paname, Babylon on the Seine – no matter how one refers to it, there is nothing remotely like it.
For the watch collector, it’s a great place to visit as well with boutiques aplenty, some owned and operated by the major brands; high-end mega-stores like Bucherer; and smaller independent retailers like Chronopassion and Dubail. Not to mention strap makers including Atelier du Bracelet Parisien and Camille Fournet.
Recently, I took a quick weekend trip to Paris and while there I took the opportunity to pack in as much fun as possible. Come along with me and join in!
Links to the past
Something on the order of 20 years ago in London, I saw, handled, and decided not to purchase a lovely set of jeweled cufflinks in the form of tiger heads. I have had “non-buyer’s remorse” ever since.
Why such deep regret? While the cufflinks themselves were enough reason, the tiger is also the mascot of my beloved undergraduate university. And, as I’d learned over the years, cufflinks of this type don’t exactly grow on trees: repeated online searches and queries at jewelers around the world had yielded nothing.
That all changed in early January of this year. MrsG and I were in Paris and dropped by the Place Vendome boutique of Boucheron, the jewelers known for their rings and pendants featuring the likenesses of various animals. After a brief conversation, our lovely saleslady commissioned for us a design proposal, including the hand-drawn illustration shown above, for a custom set of tiger cufflinks.
Sold! Fast forward to a Friday morning in June, and there I was at Boucheron having traveled to Paris to pick up my treasure.
For me, this combination of black sapphires, cognac diamonds, and emerald eyes on a beautifully crafted gold base can’t be beaten. And as Boucheron has promised not to replicate the cufflinks in the same colors for anyone else, I can be pretty sure I’m not going to see any of my fellow alumni (or anyone else, for that matter) sporting a similar pair anytime soon.
Shirts and shots
After this great start, I ducked in to one of my favorite Paris destinations, Charvet, to order a few custom shirts to wear with my new cufflinks.
Happily for you, no photos of me in the dressing room, but if you do ever have the inclination and the opportunity, I can certainly recommend a visit to the upper floors of Charvet’s Paris boutique to see the vast assortment of fabrics for yourself and delight in the wonderful treatment you’ll receive.
The next super highlight of my trip was a private tour (arranged by a watch industry friend) of the photographic archives of Magnum Paris, the legendary photographers’ cooperative. Magnum Foundation official Aram Attar and development manager Karen Jonsson provided a rare treat: the opportunity to visit the vaults containing original negatives, contact sheets, and prints from Magnum legends including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Steve McCurry.
A particularly cool sight: the wall-mounted board containing the rubber stamps that were used to apply copyright notations to the reverse side of Magnum members’ prints before sending them out to publications.
I enjoyed dinner on Friday and a “boutique crawl” on Saturday morning with old pal François-Xavier Overstake (who runs the excellent French-language watch blog Equation du Temps), who graciously arranged for great receptions at A. Lange & Söhne, Vacheron Constantin, and other boutiques. At Vacheron Constantin, we were treated to a special visit to the VIP salon, where Directrice Maison Christelle grabbed a quick snap of the two of us (below).
At A. Lange & Söhne, the boutique manager also kept nothing in reserve. I especially enjoyed strapping on one of my very favorite pieces, the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar in platinum.
Early June in Paris means tennis! Specifically, the Roland Garros tournament that is the world’s leading event played on clay.
During the days leading up to my visit, there had been no shortage of online photos of watch journalists and other guests of major brands enjoying their seats at the tournament. Thus, I was intensely looking forward to the ladies’ singles final – from which Serena Williams emerged victorious – which I had procured through an online ticket service.
As I was on my own nickel, I figured I’d go all the way and provide a bit of promotion for one of my favorite independent brands (see below).
The final sets of the prior day’s men’s singles semi-final had been postponed by rain, so I had the opportunity to enjoy that match, the men’s doubles final, and the ladies’ final between Serena Williams and Lucie Šafárová.
Much to my chagrin, I found that I had left my long-distance zoom lens back at my hotel and brought the similarly sized mid-angle lens with me. But I was still able to capture a few shots of the action, including this image of Serena searching for inspiration after falling behind in the third set.
Apparently her search for inspiration was successful. After the match, I had the chance to capture the members of the working press as they shot some carefully staged “spontaneous” images of the victor.
And so on to dinner
All of that packed into two very full days and still one more joy to come: treating myself to dinner at one of my favorite Paris restaurants: Lasserre. And on this evening, it was a particular pleasure to don my new cufflinks on a (what else?) Charvet shirt.
I’ve been going to Lasserre for the better part of 30 years now. The first time I went, I was a young management consultant on holiday with my then-girlfriend, and I was surprised to learn after arriving that payment would have to be in cash only – no credit cards.
I’ve never added so many strings of numbers in my head in one evening as I furiously calculated and re-calculated whether the amount of cash in my pocket would cover the bill. In the end, all was fine and I’ve been returning ever since; but this visit was the first time I’d dined there alone.
I’ve been in many, many rooms in Paris, and this might be the most Parisian of all with its yellow and gold tones, massive light fixtures, and dark wood furnishings with gilded trim. And if it seems that the other diners are bathed in an early evening light, it’s because it’s true: the ceiling of the room is made of two large panels that can be rolled open to reveal the Paris sky.
After four delicious courses, some great wine, and only minor bruising to my bank account, it was time to go back to my hotel and prepare for Sunday’s flight home. But not before taking one more peek at my cufflinks and an appropriate accompanying watch!