Club Happenings – Spring 2017: Club Meeting at Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton
by NJ BMW CCA
By Marc Goeller
It was with great anticipation that I was looking forward to our meeting at Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton. Not only did we, at the NJ BMW CCA chapter, want to expand the horizons of our events by bringing a new experience to our members, but as a watch enthusiast myself (also dubbed “a WIS”, or Watch Idiot Savant as we call each other in watch collector circles), I was excited to meet other like-minded people who enjoy both fine cars (and what finer car than a BMW!) but also fine watches. Now, to be quite honest, in addition to looking forward to meeting other people passionate about mechanical marvels, I was also looking forward to seeing what our contact and planning partner at Hamilton Jewelers, Ms. Donna Bouchard, the Vice President of Marketing and Social Relations at Hamilton, had planned for all of us! Indeed, from the day I had gotten in contact with Donna, I was absolutely impressed by her passion, dynamism and (contagious) energy to plan a memorable event for us. I can honestly say that if all the meetings we try to bring to you would be led by someone like Donna, I would be without a job (Not that I am paid anyway, and let us all remember that all club directors are volunteers, but just sayin’)!
Now as we all know, good things never come easily (except may be for those who are born in wealth and privilege, but fortunately, we all live in a country that gives so many opportunities to hard working people. Let us hope this will remain so for the years to come)! While we all thought that we had pretty much cleared Winter and thought that Spring was just around the corner, Mother Nature had to send us one last curveball in the form of a pretty nasty snow storm just two days prior to our expected event!! Many of us had to work snowblowers or snow shovels for hours to clear the driveway, but clearly, this Act of God was threatening this event. Within a few hours however, Hamilton had confirmed that we were still a GO and so, confirmation was sent to all registrants. Sadly about 15 members had to reluctantly cancel at short notice due to the inclement weather. We certainly hoped that nobody would take inconsiderate risks to drive to Princeton, and I will say that for myself, I was certainly grateful for the wonderful X3 loaner that I had been provided by BMW of Bridgewater when I dropped off my car for service. I am huge believer of a rear wheel drive equipped with true snow tires, but let me tell you that the X Drive system of that X3 equipped with regular all season tires was quite impressive and confidence-inspiring. So much so that it has planted a SUV/SAV bug in my mind, so please stay tuned on that.
Anyhow, let us get back on track (no pun intended after this “off road” parenthesis). All in all, 70 or so members eventually managed to join me at Hamilton that night and the first person to greet us all was none other than our very president, Mr. Jeff Caldwell who had very kindly volunteered to sign in attendees. Since Donna was not able to join us in person that very night (luckily for her, given the NJ weather, she had been given the very difficult mission, that I believe she happily accepted, to travel to Hamilton’s second location in Palm Beach Florida for the week!!), we were all greeted by Ms. Terri Goldsmith, the Flagship store director, and her very experienced and knowledgeable team. Talking about knowledgeable, allow me a quick, but important, side comment. As a watch enthusiast who knows a fair deal about watches, I can say that there is nothing more refreshing than meeting sales advisers who know in details their products and boy was I impressed by the Hamilton staff! Through my discussions with Mr. Peter Dunn concerning current models of several high-end manufacturers or with Mr. Donny Brady, one of the sales associates of H1912 (the year Hamilton was founded!) which is the arm of the company that is specialized in vintage and preowned timepieces, it was evident that all people at Hamilton are truly expert and passionate about their products and watches in particular, which would make anybody’s purchasing experience a real treat, especially knowing that you are getting the best advice possible.
So, what did this event really consist of?? Well, there were really a wide number of experiences that could be enjoyed during that special night. First and foremost, members were able to check out watches in the flesh from one of the broadest range of highend watches there is in New Jersey! From Rolex to Breguet, from Cartier to Jaeger LeCoultre, from Tudor to Patek Philippe and from Hermes to Breitling, one of the key sponsors of the evening, there was an amazing array of dressy and sporty watches that could really suit any taste out there…. (for all budgets as well, when one considers that prices started in the hundreds and reached the “sky is the limit” levels)! As a matter of fact, Breitling did not only spoil us with the goody bag we were all able to bring home, they also did by bringing their most recent model, the Avenger Hurricane, which is made of high tech carbon fiber material and, as such, ultra-light and resistant. A true Instrument for Professionals!
Members were also able to share with one another the stories about their personal favorite watch(es) whether they originated as a graduation gift, a wedding present or simply an impulse buy as a young boy. Just like for cars, the connections with these little marvels is often shared from one generation to the next and so it was no surprise to meet members of three different generations of one single family enjoying a night out together. Others explained how they had been wearing the same watch for nearly 30 years and others still shared the intimate connection with an ancestor that they were able to preserve when they inherited a watch from them.
The team of Hamilton watchmakers led by Mr. Eric Norrbom, a WOSTEP and CW21 certified watchmaker, were also on deck that night, and all members could get their watches inspected or checked for accuracy on one of the several instruments available in their shop.
And that was not all! Not only were we all smitten by the timepieces on display, mesmerized by the impressive store décor, absorbed by all the social interactions with our fellow club members… all of this took place while eating delicious cocktails provided by the Peacock Inn located on Bayard Lane in Princeton and tasting beer crafted by the Beach Haus Brewery located in Belmar!! Can you really believe this?? I am pretty confident when I say that absolutely everybody had a great time there and I think that there was no better testament to this than to seeing again some of the same new faces a couple of months later when we all met at Guten Parts in South Orange for our following meeting.
But this is another story, and since I am one of the last contributors to this great bulletin that our Editor in Chief, Jerry Faber, passionately puts together issue after issue, let me wrap this up by thanking again Donna and the entire staff at Hamilton Jewelers for having hosted us and for having put together a memorable show for us. We hope to be back in the future and I certainly do know that I will pay them a visit when I will be considering my next purchase!