You’ll find evidence of this connection in the historical culture of automobile collection and racing. For example, most internationally recognized motorsport events are sponsored by awarded timepiece houses. Famous drivers often serve as brand ambassadors for their favorite watches, and there are countless collaborations between automakers and watchmakers. The marriage between the two industries has remained steadfast for decades.
To better understand the connection between watches and cars, we spoke with Eric Razny, third-generation owner of Razny Jewelers in Chicago. Eric is the quintessential car collector and timepiece expert. His family founded Razny Jewelers over 70 years ago, and it remains family-owned and operated today. They are the city’s source for Swiss timepieces and diamond jewelry, with four locations throughout the Greater Chicago Area, in downtown Chicago (Gold Coast), Addison, Highland Park, and Hinsdale. Before joining the family business, Eric owned and operated a company tailored for auto racers.
Having his foot firmly in both worlds, we saw Eric as the expert on the union of cars and watches. He also shed light on how the luxury retail industry is navigating the recent increase in demand while giving his thoughts on the ideal watches for BMW and Rolls-Royce customers.
What was your experience in the last two years as a jewelry boutique?
We experienced an exponential boom in interest before many other businesses, especially regarding Rolex and Patek Philippe. Four or five years ago, we noticed a challenge to meet the increased demand. Honestly, we are receiving extraordinary amounts of product, but requests continue to surpass supply.
Of course, some car people are just now seeing this shortage of products and inability to purchase the exact BMW or Porsche they might want, when they want it. Jewelry and watch customers, our base, are used to this. Our clients want timepieces that have value and real worth. Even though they might not be able to get the exact item they came in for when they want it, they still purchase a luxury item from us.
At the same time, we’re very careful about not promoting something that you can’t get today.
Do you see new customers walking in, compared to maybe just the one-percenters, for example, customers who now might have disposable income saved throughout the two years of the pandemic?
I’m seeing a lot of new and successful people, younger and older. The younger generation is also shifting their spending habits. Instead of maybe buying a brand new iPhone every year, they are now looking to buy something they know will last. And that’s driving luxury goods to a strong perspective.
So if you look at your clientele, do you see a huge overlap in the passion for cars and watches?
Watches and cars definitely go hand-in-hand. They are both mechanical-driven, something to which both car lovers and watch aficionados relate. Both groups understand the intricacies of building a luxury watch or a premium car or fixing them. There is also an element of collectability on the watch side of it, which really attracts car people, especially those really deep into their car collection. I haven’t met many people who are not both watch collectors and car collectors.
It’s also quite common for a luxury car owner to simply walk into one of our Razny Jewelers stores and say, “I just bought a new Rolls Royce or Lamborghini or Ferrari, and I need a watch to match that.” Like with cars, the jewelry business is all about building relationships, understanding the consumer, and the consumer is getting to know us.
So let’s say I’m a Rolls-Royce customer and would like to treat myself to an exquisite watch. What would you recommend?
I would look at something from the Patek Philippe collection, like the Annual Calendar. But of course, if you have a great relationship with your jeweler, you could shoot for a Patek Philippe Minute Repeater, a sophisticated caliber, and a beautiful timepiece. It will also make a statement that says, “I only buy the best.”
Let’s play a bit closer to home. I’m a BMW customer. What would you recommend for me?
It’s a two-fold answer here, mainly because the customer base might be slightly different. You have your M3 and M4 enthusiasts, likely on the younger side, and then you have the very accomplished buyers who own an M5 CS, the M8 or 7 Series cars. For the former group, I would still recommend a Patek Philippe. The handcrafted nature goes kind of hand-in-hand with the level of details and exclusivity you’d find in an M car.
For the latter group, the Rolex Presidential is an excellent watch for someone who wants a timeless piece. All these brands are such a pinnacle of an experience.
Daytona 24, one of the most iconic motorsport events in the world, is just around the corner. What are a few timeless and iconic racing watches that someone should have in their collection?
I always look at the chronographs. To me, they are founded on racing. For example, Tag Heuer Monaco and the Carerra are inspired by famous races: 24 Hours of Le Mans race and Carrera Panamericana, respectively. Of course, I love the Rolex Daytona. It’s your quintessential racing watch.
At the same time, the new Tudor Black Bay Chronos are beautiful and instill a vintage vibe. Those pieces come to my mind when looking for a racing watch. I always think of something normally vintage, like your old Paul Newman style Daytona, something that’s very classy, straightforward, like the Monaco from Tag.
Why has the popularity of the Rolex Daytona exploded in the last decade?
In my opinion, there’s a two-handed coin there. On the one hand, there is this air of sophisticated achievement in getting one, especially considering how much people spend on them. On the flip side of that coin, part of it does come from the reputation the Rolex Daytona has generated as being so hard to get.
It’s also the halo piece of a collection. It’s the center of an amazing watch collection. Of course, many people are fascinated by Paul Newman and his Daytona history, so that story plays a vital role in the legend of a Rolex Daytona watch.
Additionally, what’s driving the demand for Rolex Daytonas, or other timepieces from Patek Phillipe, is that they don’t change every year. The iterations are in small increments yet very effective. These are watches you can own for 50-60 years and then hand down to your kids. The watch they’ll inherit will look similar to what’s in the Rolex collection then.
I met you through the passionate community of BMW owners. And as a true enthusiast, you own a BMW 1M Coupe, speaking of a car collection centerpiece. So how do you combine the two passions?
I will always be a car person. I don’t think you can ever take that away. I see just the synergy in the mechanical side of everything, being so similar yet different at the same time. As car and watch enthusiasts, we gather around the table and talk about them with a lot of passion. It’s also fair to say that some of the car people we grew up with weren’t necessarily luxury watch lovers. But once they got their grail car, now they are moving into the luxury watches side of things and end up with iconic timepieces.
The BMW 1M is one of those BMW cars that are just as difficult to obtain and expensive items to buy as an iconic timepiece. Furthermore, the 1M and many Porsche models made these brands important. That’s one of the fantastic things too about the timepieces industry, it holds itself to tradition.
Cars are where I go to relax. It is a hobby now, and it relaxes me to work on cars mechanically. It’s a task that kind of clears the mind.
We, the editorial team at BMWBLOG, talked about watches and cars before, and it’s the synergy between them that brings us back to this topic over and over again. Watches and cars go together beautifully. They always have, and always will. A mechanical connection between both industries will always draw enthusiasts of one to the other. Neither have to be ultra-expensive; you can have great fun in an inexpensive car and get true joy from an affordable watch.
The only thing that matters is the passion for mechanical devices that do so much more than complete a task or provide a service.