Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Business

Tampa jewelry store sells limited-edition 'Game of Thrones' watch

TAMPA — Fans of Game of Thrones still distraught over the massacre of the show's heroes may take solace in this: Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin has created a limited-edition watch inspired by the HBO series and books.

But they better have the coin do it.

The Night's Watch costs $10,500.

That buys you serious exclusivity. There are only 25. No. 15 has its own corner display case at Old Northeast Jewelers' store at International Plaza.

A ho-hum spot for selling such an exclusive item with worldwide appeal?

Not really, says store owner Jeffrey Hess, who also has a location in St. Petersburg at 1131 Fourth St. N. He believes his wife, Katrina, sparked the idea.

"I don't want to take credit for the whole thing, but I think she planted the seed,'' he said.

Old Northeast Jewelers was hosting a promotional event at ExecuJet charter services in Tampa about two years ago when Katrina struck up a conversation about Game of Thrones with Nelson Lucero, vice president of sales and marketing for Ulysse Nardin, and his teenage kids. Katrina and Lucero's teens are huge fans of the medieval fantasy drama based on the books by George R.R. Martin.

Hess didn't think much more about it until recently, when he heard about the new Thrones watch. One phone call, and a watch was headed his way.

As one of just 300 dealers worldwide, Hess considers it a coup. It's also a testament to his watch smarts. His authoritative book, The Best of Time Rolex Wristwatches, is in its third edition.

The luxury timepiece was inspired by the Night's Watch, a Game of Thrones military order dressed in black that guards a huge ice fortress protecting the Seven Kingdoms from the dangers of the north. It's big, bold and masculine and capable of withstanding 200-meter sea dives.

The watch is black with a black rubber strap and red number pointers symbolizing the buckets of blood spilled during each episode. It's very similar to Ulysse Nardin's Maxi Marine Diver Black Sea model ($7,959.99 on Amazon) but has Game of Thrones etched on the sapphire crystal back. The band says, "I am the sword in the darkness.''

The watch went on display about 10 days ago and, so far, has been attracting a lot of attention, store officials said. Senior buyer Darren Delgado said people have heard about it through his social media posts and want to see it in person. "Most of them are fans who really don't have the means but are curious about it,'' he said. "It's an oddity.''

And a good investment based on basic economics of high demand and low supply.

"You rarely see a limited edition of 25 — usually they are 300 or 1,000,'' Hess said. "It's going to be an instant collectible. If you keep it for a while, it will definitely go up in value.''

The buyer will most likely be a doctor, lawyer or athlete who loves the show and has the cash to spend, Delgado said. He reached out to former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warren Sapp, who has tweeted about Game of Thrones, but hasn't heard back. (Maybe it was that bankruptcy filing last year?)

Regardless, the store doesn't expect the watch to last long. It could even sell for Father's Day.

In the realm of luxury watches, it's actually affordable. The $10,500 price tag is a deal compared with Ulysse Nardin's El Toro's, which has a mechanical "perpetual calendar'' that stays accurate for more than 100 years.

One recently sold at the store for $55,000.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

 
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