Interview with Leslie Kobrin, President Vacheron Constantin Americas

President of Vacheron Constantin Americas Leslie Kobrin

Do you remember your first watch?

Yes, I do. It was a classic American Mickey Mouse version from my parent’s watch and jewelry store. If I remember correctly it had a pink strap. I was in first or second grade when I received it, and I adored it.

Are you sentimental about any personal watches?

Looking back I regret not keeping the gold Seiko bracelet watch that my dad gave me as gift when I was in my teens.

What makes a beautiful watch?

Having an emotional connection and the story that it tells makes a watch beautiful. It is really beautiful to me that watches are so often a self-purchase to mark an important life milestone, or a very special gift from someone important. The Overseas watch that I wear represents a big transition that I’ve made in my career. I am very proud to wear this watch, as it symbolizes an important moment of achievement.

What is your favorite complication or watch feature?

That’s easy, a dual time zone—because I travel so frequently.

How did you become part of the watch world?

For six years I was the vice president of business development at Van Cleef & Arpels. People often forget, but in addition to jewelry, the maison makes stunning timepieces.

How can the watch industry attract the next generation?

I believe the watch industry will attract the next generation by modernizing the way we deliver stories to our clients. More interesting and more customer-centric experiences through brick-and-mortar stores as well as through digital platforms will also help appeal to the next generation.

What is the next glass ceiling in the watch industry?

I think in a way the industry’s glass ceiling ties to the previous question. Is the watch industry going to evolve quickly enough to adapt to the next generation and their mode of communicating, shopping, and researching prior to purchase? For example, today even the most basic services can be confirmed via text message and email. Is the watch industry really able to stay up-to-date with the customer-oriented expectations of the next generation?

What is your favorite Instagram account?

My favorite Instagram account is my own, @LKobrin, because I am proud of maintaining a personal and creative account that expresses a side of me that is not my day job. Having said that, there are a lot of Instagram accounts I admire and follow for their creativity and artistry.

Is there a design object that speaks to you the most?

Vintage Vespas. I own one, but if I could, I would own a fleet in all different colors.

Which watch brand do you most admire?

I think what Apple is doing is fantastic. Apple watches are bringing functions that are need-based and health-oriented to consumers, which I think is great. In terms of mechanical watches, I admire Vacheron Constantin immensely because we’ve been doing what we’re doing for 262 years. It is a real testimony to the strength of the maison that we’ve been able to maintain continuous operation for so long.

What do you collect?

I collect vintage cast-iron and baking pans. Griswold and Wagner both have beautiful and historic pieces that I love. I think vintage cast iron is truly amazing—there is something special about the history it carries, and the meals they’ve been a part of. I buy new cast iron as well, in order to support new American manufactures.

Who is currently the most influential person in watches?

The world of influencers is changing so fast. I believe that digital social media influencers are really important today—people on social media are developing and influencing the perspective of consumers across categories, and that includes watches. Their influence as it pertains to watches is really interesting and powerful for brands looking to grow brand awareness.

Is there a dream watch you’d like to own someday?

It would be a dream to someday build a bespoke timepiece through our Les Cabinotiers department.