By Johnny Birdsong
There is something about a gentleman and his timepiece. What’s the first brand name that comes to your mind? For me it was ROLEX. They are iconic. They have been on the wrists of some of the most important, celebrated and influential men who have ever lived. Gentlemen like Winston Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Elvis Presley; Many Presidents including John F. Kennedy to more recent figures like Michael Jordan, Brad Pitt and Michael Buble.
I recently had the opportunity to share some time with Alex Johnson, President and Owner of Diamond Cellar Nashville. We discussed Diamond Cellar, men’s timepieces in general and of course, the incomparable - ROLEX.
Diamond Cellar was created post World War II, in 1947, by Alex’s grandfather in Columbus, Ohio. He began as an apprentice in a neighborhood jewelry store and then started his own jewelry repair business, quickly growing to become one of Columbus’ premiere jewelry repair services. This reputation and with his knowledge of the business, he eventually began selling jewelry.
Fast forward to 1952 - Alex’s grandfather started his first jewelry shop. It did very well. He took a small store with no name brands and aggregated some of the most luxurious private brands, into Ohio, and became one of the biggest stores in the nation by 2001. It continues to expand to this day.
Alex has brought Diamond Cellar to Nashville, and this location houses some of the world’s premium brands such as Cartier and Chanel as well as many more. A first class environment and unique shopping experience for the customer, are the trademarks of Diamond Cellar Nashville as well as featuring one of the largest selections and stores dedicated to ROLEX.
Diamond Cellar began a partnership with ROLEX in the 1980’s. While still in college and not yet working in the family business, Alex went to a ROLEX brunch with his father in New York. While there, he met another young man that had just moved to New York from Switzerland and simpy struck up conversation and then continued to stay in touch. A few years later, Alex joined the family business with his father and shared his dreams and goals of growing the business, which he also shared with his friend at ROLEX. Alex wanted to grow the existing partnership with ROLEX by creating a location in Nashville for “the greatest and most collect-able timepieces.” The response was positive and very interested - his friend said: “We are looking to do something in Nashville.”
“Rolex has been a very beneficial partner. They want to see you grow as a store. They are as invested in the process as we are,” says Alex. What started out as a business relationship, is today, a friendship as well he says.
So, why ROLEX? The name was invented in 1908, and it would become one of the world’s most respected brands. It all started with the founder, Hans Wilsdorf. In 1905, at the age of twenty-four, Hans Wilsdorf founded a company specializing in the distribution of timepieces. He began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist. Wristwatches were not very precise at the time, but Hans Wilsdorf foresaw they could become not only elegant, but also reliable.
Today, this world class company and the standard bearer in timepieces, ROLEX, controls every step of the process. They design, develop and produce in-house, all essential components of the iconic watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet in a relentless pursuit of perfection. Alex says: “ROLEX continuously reinvests in their manufacturing process. They are waterproof when others are water resistant. They have been to the top of Mt Everest.”
Today they are the most demanded timepiece in the world. Alex goes on to say: “They want to keep it something that truly symbolizes whatever your impetus to purchase is; they have a very healthy understanding of why we are inspired to do things. It’s not to simply spend money. It’s to look forward to something, to cherish something.... more of a capstone. They are snapshots of a moment in time and behind every ROLEX is typically a very momentous moment,” he concludes. When asked about the significance of a gentleman and his timepiece, Alex says: “A gentleman’s watch tells a story and lends itself to someone asking to hear it.”
ROLEX has an awesome collection. So, how does a Gentleman of Distinction know which style is best for him? “Go to the ROLEX store. ROLEX wants you to meet with an expert. Someone who has gone through ROLEX training, someone who has experience and knowledge; it’s not just the external watch it’s what going on inside it. When you come to our store it’s an experience not just a line of watches,” Alex says. “The intent is to walk in and not be sold something but be educated, have your questions answered; to feel as if you walked into a little part Geneva right here in Nashville,” he says.
Come make a ROLEX memory at Diamond Cellar Nashville today!