Welcome back to an aBlogtoWatch original series, where we discuss important stores that sell watches all over the world. Each store we profile has an interesting story to tell about where they operate and who they sell to. Whether you buy watches from brick and mortar retailers or prefer to buy watches online, these are the stores that help shape our watch culture around the globe. There is a long list of stores to cover, but if there is a retail location in your favorite city that we simply can’t miss, let us know in the comments below. Here is a map of stores we have covered so far.
Where to buy watches in San Francisco, California?
In the “City by the Bay,” if you are a fan of the haute horology offerings from the Swatch group, then look no further than the Tourbillon Boutique just off Union Square in San Francisco. Some of my favorite Swiss brands are housed there: Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, and Omega, among others. My first thought was: will this be a place that is very Swiss and corporate to the point of being efficient but a bit impersonal? However, our own local in the bay area, Maximilien (aka Dr. Max), assures me that the staff is warm and personable which makes for a winning combination.
With a store named “Tourbillon,” you’d expect not only to find some watches with that escapement, but also a connection to its inventor, Abraham Louis Breguet. By an amazing coincidence, the flagship brand at the Tourbillon Boutiques is, of course, Breguet (whose watches I greatly lust after). So it all works out with the ambitious name, as they back it up with both state of the art technology and legacy detailing that would no doubt please Abraham Louis Breguet if he were still around today.
The Tourbillon Boutique in San Francisco opened its doors in October 2012. There are Tourbillon Boutiques in a total of 19 locations worldwide, so if you don’t frequent San Francisco, you still have lots of options.
aBlogtoWatch: What types of watches are popular in your market? What makes San Francisco a unique place to buy watches?
Tourbillon Boutique: San Francisco is quite diverse. Many of our clients visit from all over the world, therefore, we have a watch for every taste. Tourbillon Boutique offers their clients an incomparable experience; a level of service unique in the industry. The watch collectors who visit our boutique are passionate and eager to gain access to the world of fine timepieces. Many are looking for the newest and most unique pieces to add to their collection.
Tourbillon Boutique: Many of our clients work in the tech industry and have an affinity for mechanics and engineering. They appreciate the micro-mechanics of fine timepieces. Watch lovers of San Francisco frequently access watch blogs and manufacture websites, eager to learn as much as possible about a watch, utilizing it as a tool to help them make a purchase. The watch enthusiasts of San Francisco are internet savvy and have done their research.
ABTW: Do you serve mostly locals or tourists, or is it a good mix? Also, what percentage of your customers would you call “knowledgeable watch collectors?”
Tourbillon Boutique: We have a good mix of tourists and locals. Many of our clients who visit are knowledgeable, and about half are just learning about fine watches.
ABTW: What is San Francisco best known for? What do visitors have to do, see, or eat while there?
Tourbillon Boutique: San Francisco is a world class tourist destination. The “City by the Bay” is known for its idyllic setting and iconic landmarks. There are so many activities and attractions to see in San Francisco, from the Golden Gate Bridge, walking through Golden Gate Park, exploring North Beach and Chinatown, or grabbing a Blue Bottle Coffee and enjoying the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building; there is something for everyone. When it comes to what to eat, visitors are in for a culinary treat. San Francisco was recently named by Bon Appetite Magazine as the best Food City in the U.S. You can check out influential Michelin starred restaurants with progressive tasting menus, have fresh oysters while overlooking the bay, or savor a gargantuan Mission-style burrito.
ABTW: As a business, do you sponsor or participate in any local events, watch-related or otherwise?
Tourbillon Boutique: We host multiple events a year. We like intimate events that offer an interactive experience for our clients. A popular event is our Painter’s Event with Jaquet Droz. A Master Painter travels to San Francisco from Switzerland and guides everyone on how to paint their own watch dial (ed. – covered here). We like to offer unique experiences to our guests.
ABTW: What are some of the watch brands you are known for carrying? If you could pick a watch brand or model that epitomizes the culture or style of San Francisco what would it be?
Tourbillon Boutique: Tourbillon is a multi-brand boutique that houses the prestigious brands of the Swatch Group including Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Omega, and Swatch. Each brand fills a niche in San Francisco’s culture, so it is difficult to choose one. tourbillon.com/en/stores/san-francisco