— Style —

I Got No Time for Fancy Watches

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Years ago I won a writing contest sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The prize was a Cartier Tank watch, and when it arrived in the mail, I was so disappointed, I called Saks and asked if I could return it. They graciously cut me a check instead, which I spent on an aluminum Grumman canoe.

I’m just not a jewelry person. I don’t wear much myself, and most of what I wear is costume. Fine jewelry is just too … fine. In other words, I think it’s boring and predictable. It doesn’t interest me the way that shoes and artwork and chairs do.

Even vintage jewelry doesn’t really float my boat. I am prejudiced against the patina of time that coats estate jewelry, especially timepieces.

But then last week, lightening struck. I saw this watch (left):  a Cartier Tank watch that has been “repurposed.” Now that is not boring. And it is too fun to be intimidating. Oh my, I got goosebumps!

The company is LaCalifornienne, the perfect name for two L.A. based designers who perform some Hollywood-style plastic surgery on stuffy old timepieces. Founded by Leszek Garwacki and Courtney Ormond, the pair search out vintage Cartier Tanks and Rolex Oysters and take them apart. The watches get a freshly painted face, new markers, and a rainbow leather band.

This is no restoration. This is reinvention. This is a Jennifer Aniston nose job. A traditional Cartier Tank watch that no one would be ashamed of is now ready for a life in Malibu without Brad Pitt.

For my part, the new version makes me smile in a way the original version never could. I’d definitely wear this watch while paddling my Grumman canoe.






  • Esther Zimmer April 18, 2017 at 3:46 am

    Mithra, these are fabulous! Thanks for sharing, Esther xx

    • Mithra April 20, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Thank you Esther, I quite agree!

  • 1010ParkPlace April 18, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Until recently I had one pair of earrings and a Movado watch–my first husband and I exchanged watches at the courthouse instead of wedding rings. As far as jewelry, not much has changed except I lost the Movado in a Broadway show in NYC. Had just been to Movado where they put on a new strap. Probably just as good it’s gone. So is the husband. xoxo, Brenda

    • Mithra April 20, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Brenda, I’m surprised that you too are a minimalist when it comes to jewelry. I attended a wonderful estate sale today and I bought a bracelet with a single charm hanging from it – a little tiny box. Inside the box is a clown holding a watch that actually works. It’s so weird and wonderful that I might have to rethink this whole minimal approach to jewelry.

  • Richard April 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    My wife has one of these watches from LaCalifornienne. I can’t tell you how many times people atop her just to marvel at the watch and it’s artistry.

  • Richard April 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    You should link their website!https://www.lacalifornienne.com

    • Mithra April 20, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Richard! And yes, LaCalifornienne is a live link in the body of the article.

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