Manfredi Jewels (Est. 1988) In September 2014, the Hodinkee website described Manfredi Jewels in a way that has become more valid over time. “There are just a small handful of truly meaningful watch stores in the United States. This group of forward-thinking, daring, and creative jewelers are, in some cases, responsible for breeding the generation of watch buyers that kept the entire industry afloat during some of its hardest times and built it into the period of development and innovation that we are currently enjoying. Without these select watch retailers, there would be no industry to enjoy. Roberto Chiappelloni’s Manfredi Jewels in Greenwich, CT, is at the forefront of this group.”
For more than three decades Manfredi Jewels, located in the heart of Greenwich Connecticut, has stood at the pinnacle of fine jewelry and timepiece retail. Within the contemporary and luxurious space is an unparalleled collection of exquisite jewels, over 30 brands of timepieces, and Manfredi exclusive jewelry creations. In 2015 Manfredi Jewels opened their second location in New Canaan, Connecticut.
When the charismatic Roberto Chiappelloni established the brand in 1988, it began as an intimate retail outlet for the jewelry collections of designer Giulio Manfredi, who was raised in the same Northern Italian village as Roberto. The shop provided a venue for Roberto to share his growing passion for the complicated art of horology, and he attracted an international clientele in search of collectible timepieces and stunning jewelry.
By the time Manfredi Jewels celebrated its 25th anniversary as a full-service jewelry and watch boutique with a steadfast reputation for excellence and representation, it carried some of the most elite brands in an elegant 3,300-square-foot showroom. Manfredi Jewels had undergone an expansion and redesign in 2008 and offered customers an experience that mirrored a European-style salon. The space remains sleek and contemporary, featuring an elliptical layout with “walls of watches” and a center “island of jewelry,” where some of the most distinguished names in luxury brands can be found. The jewelry cases were also expanded to provide a more open and well-appointed space in which to display these treasures. Adjacent to the showroom is an expertly appointed lounge space, ideal for relaxed browsing.
Also in 2008 Manfredi began hosting a small group of watch-collector clients (usually 10 to 14) and serving a four-course, sit-down meal inside the store complete with a presentation from a world-class watchmaker with an opportunity to handle and, occasionally disassemble, the most recent introductions from the world’s great watch companies. Each guest received a gift at the end of the evening; a cashmere scarf or a professional watchmaker’s toolkit are examples.
Chiappelloni came to the United States from Italy when he was 24. He believed he would spend six months at New York University then return to Italy, but opportunity knocked and he answered. He built a name for himself as an entrepreneur – not as a watch man, but actually a restauranteur. His success with his Forest Hills restaurant Alberto enabled Chiappelloni to begin to collect watches. In the late 1970s, he was one of just a few who still had a passion for mechanical watches. Because of this, local dealers and pawn shops in the area would call him whenever they received a good watch on trade. He began to buy pieces for his own collection because if he didn’t buy them, they’d simply be melted down for scrap.
In the 1980s, having achieved some success, Chiappelloni opened Manfredi Jewels in Greenwich with the goal of simply having a little fun. His first and only brand back then was IWC, and it was with them, and then Piaget, that he began to build a name for himself as someone who would take a chance on new, innovative brands and help build a fan base in the U.S for them. For example, Manfredi Jewels was the first authorized dealer for Franck Muller and still carries the brand today.
Currently Manfredi Jewels employs 15 individuals in its two locations, including two master watchmakers and a goldsmith. Each member of the Manfredi team has an extensive knowledge of the watch industry with expertise garnered in a variety of ways. Roberto points to the thorough reading of enthusiast publications, brand-supplied literature, and the many online resources as key components.
“We pursue every avenue the manufacturers provide for education, from in-house training sessions to Swiss factory visits and centralized U.S. trainings,” he says. Throughout the course of a year, Manfredi hosts intimate events celebrating the industry, joining with clients who also admire the fine art of watchmaking and its superior craftsmanship.
According to the brand’s official website, “Manfredi Jewels has been at the forefront of the fine timepiece industry, carrying brands recognized as innovators of style and mechanical mastery. Manfredi Jewels’ offering of over 30 watch brands includes notables such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Bell & Ross, Berd Vaye, Blancpain, Breguet, Bvlgari, Chopard, F.P.Journe, Franck Muller, Girard-Perregaux, Giuliano Mazzuoli, Glashütte Original, Grand Seiko, Grönefeld, Hamilton, Harry Winston, Hermès, Jaquet Droz, Laurent Ferrier, Longines, Maîtres du Temps, Montblanc, Omega, Parmigiani Fleurier, Ressence, Richard Mille, Sarpaneva, Speake-Marin, Ulysse Nardin, Urban Jürgensen, Urwerk, Vacheron Constantin, Voutilainen, and Zenith.
“Fine jewelry brands such as Bulgari, Chopard, Gucci, Hearts on Fire, Messika, Lauren K, Marco Bicego, and Roberto Coin are a small representation of the many jewelry collections that can be seen at Manfredi Jewels. Each is selected by … Chiappelloni, to further expand the broad array of choices offered at Manfredi Jewels.”
In addition, each location offers consultation and the custom design of bridal jewelry. Prices for these pieces range from $2500 to over $50,000.
In November 2017, the Greenwich Sentinel reported that the luxury retailer created its first series of radio podcasts appropriately entitled “The Rare Watch Man.”
Manfredi teamed up with award winning syndicated Talk Radio Personality and Entrepreneur Debbie Nigro to create this one-of-a-kind series. Each of the 8 episodes features in-depth interviews with Chiappelloni. He provides insights on collecting fine timepieces, the history of some of the most iconic watch brands, the state of the luxury industry as well as personal stories and recommendations for watch collectors.
“I loved teaming up with Debbie to create these podcasts,” says Chiappelloni. “One of my greatest loves in this world is watches. ‘The Rare Watch Man’ Series gives me a unique opportunity to share my experience and knowledge with others.
“The Rare Watch Man” episodes include:
Episode 1: Chiappelloni recounts his early childhood and how he first discovered fines watches.
Episode 2: Listeners learn how Roberto Chiappelloni opened his first retail store in Greenwich.
Episode 3: Chiappelloni provides a brief history of some of the most recognizable watch brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Breguet and Audemars Piguet and why they are a part of his collection.
Episode 8: Chiappelloni discusses the future of the rare watch business and how the Apple watch strengthens the fine timepiece industry.
This is the first Hybrid Live Radio/Podcast Series created by Debbie Nigro’s ‘World Class Interviews Division.’”
The global stamp of approval for a rare watch brand is to be sold in Manfredi’s store in Greenwich,” says Nigro. “That’s a good story and a long way from where Roberto grew up on a farm in Piacenza, Italy, the place he learned about the Italian passion for watches, and fine mechanical works of art.”
While Manfredi Jewels attracts customers from around the world, the insightful Podcast Series “The Rare Watch Man” is now shared with both his local audience and his global audience through On Demand Podcasting on iTunes.
Appreciating the good fortune the brand has experienced for more than thirty years, Manfredi Jewels is committed to supporting the community that has sustained it. Philanthropic and civic commitments span a range of important causes, with ongoing support demonstrated for the Wounded Warrior Project, the Police Athletic League, the Holocaust Memorial, the Tolerance Center, the Enchanted Forest, a number of educational initiatives, and much more.
In its time Manfredi Jewels has been and continues to be a landmark institution of fine jewelry and timepiece excellence.