Desperate for a vacation after a year or more of pandemic-induced lockdowns?
It’s time to jet off on a Europe-spanning jaunt that combines spectacular timepieces with luxurious pampering. There is, after all, no time to waste.
No horological odyssey is complete without a trip to Switzerland, where there’s a glut of new pilgrimage-ready sites.
Those include the year-old, spiral-shaped Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, designed by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels, and Omega’s reimagined museum.
The brand was the first to open such a dedicated space 38 years ago; its newest interactive exhibit skitters through the firm’s history, including a walk-in Speedmaster and a series of Q-approved gadgets featured in every James Bond movie since “GoldenEye.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre, meanwhile, has just launched three-hour tours and classes for the public at its Le Sentier site — choose between eyeballing watchmakers up-close as they work and a masterclass on the history of Swiss watchmaking. (Or sign up for both and spend a day immersed in the brand.)
Unwind at the brand-new, suite-only Woodward hotel (from $1,350 per night) on Lake Geneva’s Quai Wilson. The Haussmann-style building, dating back to 1901, has just reopened after a makeover by Pierre-Yves Rochon, the same designer who recently transformed London’s stuffy Savoy into a chic hot spot
Next, hop to the City of Lights for two chances to indulge in watchmaking obsessions. Breguet has been tinkering with the museum housed in its boutique on the Place Vendôme since it first opened 21 years ago; check out the latest treasures on show before a pit stop at the Palais Galliera, which reopens in October.
That museum will debut France’s first permanent exhibit dedicated to the history of fashion, thanks to a $6.75 million donation from Chanel. No word yet on which of the house’s timepieces might make the first curatorial cut, but keep an eye on the mannequins’ wrists.
Stay at another reborn grande dame, the 161-room Le Bristol (from $1,850 per night), which just completed its most extensive renovation since it opened in 1925
Make London your first pit stop — book a seat on JetBlue’s new bargain-priced trans-Atlantic flights, with business class fares from just $1,799 round trip.
Stay at the Londoner (from $471 per night), a swanky new 350-room landmark on Leicester Square that boasts a pub-inspired restaurant equipped with more than 50 small batch gins, and the Residence — a 24-hour guest clubhouse stocked with drinks, board games and a dedicated concierge.
It’s a few minutes’ walk to the latest watch world must-see, the eight-story Breitling Townhouse, which opened last February. The brand’s largest boutique in Europe so far, it’s more like a clubby hangout than a conventional retail store. Downstairs there’s a custom pool table, bar and lounge — pepper the in-house watchmaker with any questions over a Negroni or two.
Don’t miss Chopard’s European flagship on nearby New Bond Street, either — it was rebooted two years ago using local, environmentally aware materials as part of the marque’s eight-year commitment to sustainability.
Make this your final stop on a whistle-stop European vacation — and try to snag one of Hublot’s limited-edition Mare Nostrum Classic Fusion chronographs.
Launched this summer, the line references the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea; each of the brand’s boutiques in five Med hot spots offers its own exclusive design, including the new Forte dei Marmi shop in Tuscany. (Keep an eye out for jet-setters like Giorgio Armani and the Fiat-founding Agnelli family, who’ve long favored the seaside town.)
Book a room, and a table, at the Principe Forte dei Marmi (from $375 per night), a sleek, modernist 28-room hotel with the best chef in town — Michelin-endorsed Valentino Cassanelli — and its own 78-foot yacht available to charter along coastal escapes, like the Cinque Terre.
Run out the clock with a day trip inland, to tour Panerai’s museum at its Florence headquarters on Piazza San Giovanni, relaunched two summers ago with new displays — keep an eye out for a Madame Tussauds-worthy wax likeness of namesake founder Giuseppe.
All watches available at London Jewelers, 2046 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, Long Island.