Aficionados of high end watches that tick with design, engineering and historical importance often rely on dealers like Danny Goldsmith to help them pursue their passion with professional; personalized guidance. Far too modest to describe himself as the connoisseur that he is, Goldsmith, a self-described “Watch Guy,” has an unbridled; eclectic passion for timepieces of widely varying functions, pedigrees, prices and nationalities. Equally important, Goldsmith is known for treating customers who are buying $2,000 timepieces with the same care and respect that he extends to ultra-high net worth individuals who are forking out US$2.75 million for a limited edition model. (The Swiss independent watchmaker Urwerk spent almost a decade developing its technologically and artistically sublime AMC atomic clock-powered wristwatch; there are only three in existence, and Goldsmith sold one to a U.S. client in 2019.)
As an internationally trusted tastemaker and storyteller on social media platforms, Goldsmith belongs to a far-flung family of watch enthusiasts, including collectors, independent watchmakers, watch brand sales reps and others. Goldsmith and his fellow watch hobbyists share insider news and views on Facebook and Instagram feeds. (Hint: type in the IG hashtag #watchfam) for an eyeful of intriguing timepieces.) On the Instagram account @dannygoldsmith23 Goldsmith and #watchfam discuss myriad aspects of watch design, engineering and history, including past and present examples of haute horlogerie. (As haute couture is to high fashion and haute cuisine is to culinary artistry, haute horlogerie refers to state-of-the art watchmaking.)
Whether discussing the finer points of new releases, sharing news of independent watchmakers, upcoming watch auctions or lamenting the watches that got away, Goldsmith and his cohort are powering and promoting a sub-culture that celebrates and supports the heritage, art, craft and advances of traditional watchmaking. Goldsmith also lends his industry insights to popular horology and watch podcasts such as Fifth Wrist Radio.
What’s more, Goldsmith is an important figure in collector groups, such as Collective, which has an Instagram gallery @collectivehorology as well as a Facebook page. Collective is an invitation-only community of watch enthusiasts that commissions and pre-pays independent watchmakers to produce limited editions of timepieces that will never be made again. As self-appointed guardians of the heritage watch galaxy and its watchmakers, Goldsmith and his cohorts stand in contrast to the global tsunami of smart watch manufacturing. While the Apple Watch, the small but super-powered wearable computer may be the world’s best-selling wristwatch, Goldsmith and his #watchfam hold the traditional craft of fine watchmaking, and the people who labor so intensively to create these timepieces, in uniquely high regard. “We value the intangible traditional heritage of watchmaking,” he explained during a recent telephone call. “People in our community are fascinated by the super-refined technical and artisanal skills that must be carefully cultivated and utilized to create distinctive timepieces,” Goldsmith said. “The six hundred-year long tradition of watchmaking and the various complications that can be built into a watch to keep the mechanism running during the wearer’s lifetime and beyond; the physical perfection of the hand-painted dial, the watch bracelet and so on,” he noted. All these things are great achievements and part of humanity’s precious cultural heritage.”
As for him and his customers, he explained, “My work is more about introducing people to watches that they will value and love rather than making the superfast sale. I’m in the business of building relationships,” Goldsmith said. “I’m focused on showing people a range of timepieces so that they can understand what’s available and eventually discover a watch that sings out to them.” While some may feel compelled to purchase, he continued, “Others may decide to place their name on a waiting list for a particularly sought after model. Some may even choose to hold out for their dream watch and come back to me later when they can afford it. It’s all good. My over-riding goal,” he added, “is to share my knowledge of fine watches, build relationships and help people buy the watch they love for all the right reasons so that they wear it and treasure it.” When queried as to whether he is a watch “keeper” or a “flipper,” Goldsmith instantly responded, “I’m a keeper, definitely.”
Some of his most treasured timepieces include those by independent watchmakers. For example, Goldsmith explained, “I love my 37 mm Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet.” Featuring a distinctive octagonal case that embraces a blue dial and round face, Goldsmith’s Royal Oak model “is complemented by a great bracelet,” he enthuses. “The Royal Oak was launched in 1972 and another reason why I love it, apart from its almost 50-year heritage, is because Audemars Piguet remains the only existing Swiss watch manufacturer that’s still owned by its founding families.” Referred to as “AP” by watch nerds like Goldsmith, “AP continues to create highly refined watches in Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux,” he added. “The family business started in 1875 and has played a vital role in the Valley ever since, employing members of the community, creating refined, high-end timepieces for connoisseurs and transmitting its artisanal know-how across generations.”
He also treasures the UR-105 by Urwerk that he acquired after he closed the deal on the $2.75 million AMC atomic master clock and wristwatch. Without a doubt, however, “The most meaningful watch I own is the Rolex Daytona 116520. My wife and parents gifted it to me about 15 years ago. This is the watch that ignited my watch collecting obsession,” he says with a laugh. According to Goldsmith, “You need to maintain strong and substantial customer relationships and a lively social media presence to do what I do, so I’m often on the phone at odd hours with clients in Europe, Asia or Australia.” Having recently relocated to Delray Beach, Florida from New York, Goldsmith is now pioneering a new place for himself and his favorite timepieces. His soon-to-open Goldsmith & Complications salon will retail rare, limited edition, high-end Swiss watches as well as limited edition models produced by U.S. independent watchmakers. While some of the brands that he has ordered include Angelus, Urwerk, Bell & Ross, Oris, CYRUS and Purnell, he will also carry select pre-owned watches of distinction. Located on a snazzy stretch of Delray Beach’s East Atlantic Avenue, Goldsmith & Complications will also feature a Strap Bar, replete with state-of-the-art watch straps in myriad colors and textures that are made of rubber, cloth, stingray and leather.
While the boutique was ticking along under construction when Goldsmith spoke with this writer, Goldsmith explained, “My goal is to turn this into a place where people can refine their taste in watches, buy what they love and meet like-minded others in the watch community. I’m also planning special events to bring people together, such as watch launch parties, informal educational talks, podcasts and so forth.” Listening to Goldsmith riff on the art, science and profoundly human elements associated with making and appreciating traditional watches, one gets the feeling that he and his community are guided by concerns similar to those that captivated 19th century neo-classical jewelers like Fortunato Pio Castellani. This Roman master devoted his life and atelier to replicating and retailing interpretations of ancient Etruscan granulated jewels that had been discovered by archaeologists of his time. Like those in the #watchfam, Castellani shared knowledge with his customers, and the public, by discussing design, materials, fabrication methods and artisanal heritage. He even brought both loyal and potential customers into the atelier to observe his jewelers at work.
Today in 2021, parallel humanistic and artistic interests animate the #watchfam’s love and support for horology and fine timepieces. All of the Swiss and U.S. timepieces that Goldsmith deals in are developed in limited editions by small, independent companies. They are hand-fabricated by people in communities who embody traditions that have been handed down to them by centuries of watchmakers, family members, friends and cherished masters. Producing ticking treasures of Time in clean, safe and community-minded conditions, these watchmakers and their associates are also paid far more than a living wage and receive benefits while they are upholding and advancing horological heritage
With such considerations in mind, Danny Goldsmith and his #watchfam, along with the soon-to-open Goldsmith & Complications, embody one of the more poetic portals into the world of Time and haute horlogerie.