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Rosa Keller Library (5:00-9:00 PM)
My House NOLA presents a rolling food vendor mini festival
The Antenna Gallery (7:00 PM)
A series of music-themed movies and documentaries, curated and hosted by DJ Soul Sister, and co-presented by Charitable Film Network, Press Street, and WWOZ
Jewish Community Center (7:30 PM)
The second evening of a chamber music festival that has something for classical aficionados and dilettantes alike
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Catch the Indie rockers on their North American tour
Long Time Coming
Crescent City's Only Watchmakers Mix Art, Functionality and a Dash of New Orleans Lore
In a town where start times are merely suggestions and bars are open "til," no one seems to be concerned about doing anything in a timely fashion. That may be part of the reason that watchmaking is underrepresented in the Crescent City.
But where there is a void, New Orleanians are also known for spinning their gears and filling it in. Enter designer and jewelry craftsmen Craig von Babylon and longtime watchmaker Joe Urich.
A couple of weeks ago, the duo launched The New Orleans Watch Company. It’s been in the works for two years, which is how long it took the two to create their first piece. Everything about their creations reflects the unique culture and history of New Orleans, including the materials they use.
“The first one was made of ebony and ivory—the outside case was made of ebony we purchased, but the ivory we found from old piano keys that we picked in people’s houses after Katrina,” Urich said.
The name of the watch Urich describes, “Ebony and Ivory,” was inspired by the song and is a perfect example of each piece’s unique narrative.
“Each one has its own story, each one’s customized,” Urich said.
While NoDef was visiting the pair’s workstation, von Babylon, who has been in the jewelry business for 40 years, let us in on a new idea in the works to utilize a silver dollar directly from the Old U.S. Mint. The coin has actually been split down the middle and will eventually function as two separate sides, von Babylon said. He is depicted with the wire tool used to create the New Orleans-inspired watch.
Urich and von Babylon are not only highly specialized, they’re real life pioneers. Until two years ago, no one had ever made a watch in New Orleans, the duo said. The pair takes pride in the rarity of their craft, and they are passing their skills down to the next generation of watch lovers in a time-honored tradition of apprenticeship.
“How many people in America have apprentices any more? It’s a good industry, and it’s a great way to learn,” Urich said. “The more expensive the watches, the better.”
The entirely handcrafted sapphire and solid gold watch that NoDef was lucky enough to try on will run you $11,500. But von Babylon and Urich aren’t concerned about selling their wearable art in a time when everyone seems to be complaining about funds.
“The truth is there’s no scarcity of big money. Big money they don’t lose, they’ll always pay for expensive things,” Urich said.
Now that the company is up and running, the pair will have more time on their hands to create customized pieces for their clients.
Urich said that watches are catered towards collectors who can customize the pieces. Due to the specific design the pair uses, each custom watch will have the same general structure. Options are available to choose engravings—initials, personal messages, whatever meaningful symbol customers see fit.
“The dial can be customized and engraved, the sides can be engraved, they’re all limited anyhow, only 100 of each one will be made,” Urich said. If you’re interested in checking out the pair’s designs or have been thinking about moving your timepiece art collection out of its Dali phase, check out their website here.
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