Boisdale Life Magazine (Issue 18) - Page 72

Third-generation jeweller Charlie Pragnell talks to Timothy Barber about
bringing fine watches and diamonds to Mayfair’s Mount Street, and why
Patek Philippe and Rolex are hotter than ever
t is, as Charlie Pragnell points out, a remarkably good
time to be selling fine watches. Brexit uncertainties
have not dampened any eagerness among the wellheeled for Switzerland’s finest offerings, and indeed in
certain quarters demand is soaring through the roof:
particular Rolex and Patek Philippe models are so in-demand
that lengthy waiting lists are now the norm. The grand
Pragnell boutique on Mayfair’s Mount Street, a few doors
along from the Connaught hotel, is the only private retailer in
London to carry both of watchmaking’s most famous names.
“Those two brands are hotter than ever – demand is
increasingly outstripping supply,” Charlie says. For those
who wish to spend wisely, rather than merely whimsically,
that’s a good thing. “People do see investment in watches,
particularly Patek and Rolex, as a safe and enjoyable thing,
just as with high quality diamonds. I think prices will
inevitably appreciate, but it’s fundamentally because people
love and value these things, and hold onto them.”
As the third Pragnell to run one of the country’s most
revered jewellery and watch businesses, Charlie knows a
thing or two about investing wisely. Pragnell’s was founded
in Stratford-upon-Avon by his grandfather, George Pragnell,
who in 1954 opened a jewellery shop in a Tudor cottage built
by a carpenter friend of Shakespeare’s. The shop now sprawls
into a further two neighbouring premises, while Pragnell’s
kept acquiring other businesses and skills as it grew. These
brought a showroom and workshops in Leicester, and a
150-year-old London heritage in the form of Philip Antrobus,
the Bond Street jeweller responsible for the engagement ring
given by Prince Philip to the thenPrincess Elizabeth, and a bracelet she
wore for their wedding.
Royal connections (before opening
his shop, George looked after Queen
Mary’s jewels) and the ability to create
bespoke, world-class jewellery, mean
that Pragnell’s has never simply been
one more stately, regional purveyor of
finery. An eye for rare gems, often
sourced from the family vaults of the
British aristocracy, and long-established
relationships with Swiss watchmaking’s
most exalted marques, have brought a
firmly international clientele.
Yet expansion from Warwickshire to
Mayfair, with a sumptuous showroom

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