How Aimé Leon Dore Sources Vintage Cartier & Audemars Piguet Watches For Its Photoshoots
— Updated on 28 February 2023

How Aimé Leon Dore Sources Vintage Cartier & Audemars Piguet Watches For Its Photoshoots

— Updated on 28 February 2023
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

Over the last couple of years, you might have noticed some particularly nice vintage watches on the wrists of Aimé Leon Dore models, most recently in its latest Spring/Summer 2023 collection lookbook. Vintage watches of this calibre don’t just appear at your local pre-owned watch dealer, but when you’re Teddy Santis, Aimé Leon Dore’s founder and current New Balance MADE In USA creative director, you’ve got a watch guy who can find the best of the best.

It’s not widely known but Santis’ watch guy is none other than Gai Gohari, a New York local and owner of Classic 55 vintage watches, who has been providing Aimé Leon Dore with its timepieces for a few years now. As a paragon of good taste and timeless style, Gohari specialises in the likes of Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget, typically avoiding the hyped-up market for stainless steel sports watches and focusing specifically on watches oozing with sprezzatura and panache.

With such taste in the weirder and more wonderful corners of watch buying and selling, he counts the legendary collector Roni Madhvani among his clients and his store is a must-visit the next time you’re in the Big Apple. Gohari generously took the time to speak with me about his relationship with Aimé Leon Dore and how popular taste in timepieces is shifting, from the usual safe and predictable suspects to more self-expressive alternatives.

Aimé Leon Dore vintage watches

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How did your relationship with Aimé Leon Dore begin?

Well, I think it was about three years ago when the brand was still on its way up, Aimé Leon Dore contacted me and asked if they could borrow some watches for a photo shoot. I never had any prior experience lending my watches, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I said, “Okay, sure, let’s give it a shot.”

Since then, they’ve been around every time they’ve had a photo shoot, and each time they want more and more of my watches to shoot. I guess our aesthetics are very much aligned, because I see a lot of the clothes they’re offering and think, “Man, that’s exactly how I would wear that!”

Aimé Leon Dore vintage watches

What were the watches Aimé Leon Dore selected for its latest Spring/Summer 2023 lookbook?

They used a few. A Cartier Baignoire, a Piaget Polo Day-Date, a square Cartier Tank and an Audemars Piguet Moonphase watch from the 80s, as well as a gold and diamond ring I designed.

Well, I think the main links are based on an appreciation for classic proportions and style, and the heritage that we grew up with. Dressy, elegant, understated, but at the same time opulent, which is I think also Ralph Lauren’s vision. If you’re elegant, your style is a little opulent, but at the same time, you’re not flashy.

Do you think that there’s a growing appreciation for watches that aren’t box-fresh?

Yes, I think there’s serious growth in appreciation and demand for things that are different because we’ve had about five, or six years of growth in the industry, but generally around hyped mainstream watches. Like the Nautilus, the Royal Oak, and all the sports Rolexes.

I think people are growing really tired of that stuff, with everyone having the same watches as each other. So finally, people are finding their own personality, their own taste, and then looking at different ideas. And it’s inspiring for everyone.

Aimé Leon Dore vintage watches

I think in the last two or so years we’ve had momentum in our culture that either you were a sheep or you’re an independent thinker. All the sheep would buy the watch the other guy has, while people who are independent thinkers want to stand out a little more.

You can see the same thing in the Aimé Leon Dore aesthetic. You can see it’s not what used to be the cool look that they’re offering, they’re offering something that is close to what we know, but with a bit of difference. Before, everybody had Yeezy sneakers and tight jeans, but there’s a different aesthetic that’s appealing to different mindsets and different visions.

What do you think is the reason behind the growing interest in unusual and shaped watches?

Well, each shaped watch offers something a little different for different personalities. Instead of just having the choice of a regular round watch, now someone can say, “I like a square, I like oval, I like hexagonal,” so there are more channels to express their personality. This is partly why there’s such great availability in the Cartier lineup because they have all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes while other bands offer a cookie-cutter approach.

I think Piaget and Cartier are at the forefront, but also Audemars Piguet, the Royal Oak aside. I’m always buying and selling APs because they have so many different unique elements, the same as Vacheron Constantin as well. These four brands are the brands I sell and look for the most.

Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au