Q&A With Larry Pettinelli and Lane Schiffman

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Larry Pettinelli and Lane Schiffman at the Golden Gate Club

Shreve & Co., San Francisco’s preferred jeweler for 163 years, certainly has a thing for Post Street. After more than a century at 200 Post Street, it moved to a transitional location at 117 Post Street in August. Now, the legendary jeweler has unveiled the address—150 Post Street—and details for its spacious, new permanent flagship boutique, expected to open Sept. 1, 2016, with an expanded collection including timepieces from the world-renowned watchmaker Patek Philippe. Haute Living sat down with Lane Schiffman, co-owner of Shreve & Co., and Larry Pettinelli, President of Patek Phillippe US, during their recent visit to the City by the Bay to announce their plans and to host a private dinner at the Golden Gate Club for approximately 80 Patek Philippe enthusiasts who were treated to an exclusive look at the dazzling 2015 Patek Philippe Basel collection of timepieces and renderings for Shreve & Co.’s new Union Square store.

Lane, can you give us some insight into the new boutique?
Throughout our facility, we’re going to have a higher level of service onsite than we had before, because we never had room for that. We’re going to have an entire second floor and rooms dedicated to bridal and diamond engagement rings. We’re going to have an entire floor dedicated to fashion jewelry. Mikimoto, which is the finest in cultured pearls, will have a magnificent boutique. We’ll have an event facility in the back right corner, which is designed so we can host our clients to a beautiful lunch and maybe have a fireside chat with Larry Pettinelli or Haute Living [publisher Seth Semilof]. The new store is designed to have this big, beautiful sweeping staircase and big features in the front to bring that aura of excellence, that luxury feel—and everybody will hopefully say, “Gosh, I need to check out what’s upstairs.” Right through that, you immediately see Rolex and Patek, and the entire fine watch department is through the back. In the back, there’s a special, almost secret VIP lounge or salon with private selling rooms. It’s a very deep store. Its 6,800 square feet downstairs and a little bit over 5,000 square feet upstairs of showroom.

Larry, how will the Patek Philippe shop in Shreve be set up?
We’ll have museum vitrines. We’ll have some sit-down areas. It will be more of an area where you can explore Patek. It’s not just a sales counter. We talk all the time about when people buy something at this level, whether it’s a big diamond, it’s about celebrating a kind of an event, usually. You want to have an environment that makes it an event and makes it memorable.

Lane, tell us about the relationship with Patek Philippe.
When we found out we would be moving, it was the first phone call we made. That tells you how important we think it is. We think it lines up with our DNA as the most ideal brand we can carry—Rolex—as well are the two that I would never want to open up a store without. But, Patek really has more of the higher echelon of craft. Patek is a great draw for us, too. We have a certain level of clientele that would maybe think about walking in and gracing our doors because we do handle such a beautiful brand; we also try to cultivate them as a jewelry client and as a service client.

How are the new buyers different, and who are they?
It’s wonderfully diverse now in a totally different manner. Through the last 30 years of being around we [sold] a lot more Patek Philippes to just CEOs. It was really like the CEO watch. Now, you’re seeing the strength of the tech boom and the strength of these younger, very affluent people that see value. They’re very well-educated, and the better they’re educated, the more they’re interested in the unique, high-level craftsmanship that really only Patek Philippe does at every level. We sell a lot of beautiful timepieces, and they may start off with other watches—but they always aspire to finally get to own a Patek Philippe. We’re pretty amazed to see some young guys walk in; it’s doable for them now. This is where they want to put their money. Maybe they don’t put it in big houses. They’d rather put it in some- thing they can wear; something they can share with their friends wherever they go. They’re hard-working, moving and almost hard-to-keep-up-with people that are going all over the world. They love to travel. They love to experience. They’re also very tech-savvy. They seem to love the craftsmanship of mechanical, 100-year-old technology and its development.

LP: We were talking about how ironic that really is. The super techie— maybe they work in Silicon Valley. They are some of the most passionate guys for this old technology. You’re talking about a living, breathing kind [of product] instead of a throwaway kind of product, which is what goes on nowadays—not just with watches, but in society. When these guys can work all day on a high-tech piece that is going to be obsolete in six months and you have to do an upgrade—they are actually looking for something with lasting value.