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HOT 100 INSPIRING INDEPENDENTS: Leon Adams — Cellini Jewelers

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Cellini Jewelers no longer resides within the grand dame of Manhattan hotels, the Waldorf Astoria. It will, however, always be associated with the iconic venue, having been present in its hallowed lobby since 1977 — oh, the stories it could tell.

Leon Adams started Cellini Jewelers with help from his father, who ran an antiques business. Its first two brands were Audemars Piguet and Omega, demonstrating Leon’s great eye for contemporary and future classics.

Over time, Leon became more and more fascinated by living artisan independent watchmakers like François-Paul Journe and the Grönefeld brothers, and his showroom, now located directly on Park Avenue in New York, has become a Mecca for collectors looking for exquisite and rare watches sold alongside exceptional jewelry.

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For much of Cellini’s 45 years in business, independent watchmakers were a tough sell, but that has changed dramatically since social media made it easier to learn about them.

Demand is so hot now that Leon — having supported these struggling artists for decades — now finds it hard to secure the watches that his ultra-knowledgeable clients demand.

“The toughest challenge this past year has been the delivery of product to our clients,” Leon says. “One of the ways we tried to overcome this is to create Cellini exclusive limited editions such as our Grönefeld Special Edition Principia with a meteorite dial, which was met with an outpouring of love from the watch community.”

Matching limited supply from indie watchmakers to overwhelming demand from discerning collectors is a stressful business, but Leon manages to unwind fishing, playing golf and flying radio-controlled model airplanes with his friends and family.

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