Good Timing

Anh-Minh Le | August 13, 2018 | Style & Beauty Story Style

This spring, for his 29th birthday, Jared Silver treated himself to his “grail watch”—an MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual with a green dial. The timepiece is made of grade 5 titanium and produced in a limited edition of 50. Silver requested that the maker, Maximilian B├╝sser, set aside no. 23 for him, Silver’s lucky number as well as the day of the month on which he was born. While Silver, whose father founded his eponymous Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry in 1980, caught the watch-collecting bug at an early age—he has distinct memories of his mom’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso and his dad’s Patek Philippe Calatrava—he got through childhood with a Mickey Mouse watch, the one on which the iconic cartoon character’s gloved hands indicate the hours and minutes. A mechanical junkie who’s especially into watches, cars and motorcycles, Silver talks about both the MB&F and Mickey wristwear with equal enthusiasm. “I like knowing how things are made and understanding how things work,” he says. “Once I realized that Mickey wasn’t just magically moving his hands around—something was causing him to do that— that’s really when I started thinking about it.” These days, his job requires him to think about this kind of stuff all the time: In January, Silver was named president of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry.

Silver grew up in Hillsborough and attended Menlo School in Atherton. At the University of Southern California, he majored in business and minored in philosophy. During his undergrad days, he spent a summer at advertising agency BBDO and, with some friends, started a lifestyle magazine that targeted college students in Los Angeles. After USC, he was recruited by consulting firm Capgemini and later landed at EY, where he specialized in strategy and innovation. As he settled into the workforce, a position in the family business was not in the plan, though he had been on the board of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry since 2016 and, as a side project, was involved in the company’s retail openings in the Rosewood Sand Hill, first in a 100-square-foot spot that debuted in 2008, and six years later, in a 1,300-square-foot flagship, which allowed the firm to expand beyond custom and estate jewelry to watches.

In late 2017, Silver sensed that it was time for a change. After eight years of consulting, racking up more than 100,000 airline miles annually, he was ready to return to the Bay Area and take the reins of the family business. According to Silver, his father can now focus on “the big, rare stones” like The Pink Promise, the 14.93-carat fancy vivid pink diamond that sold at auction last November for $31.9 million. Jewelry remains the bulk of sales and watches comprise about 20 percent, with mostly a male clientele, says Silver. One of his goals, however, is to bring more women’s styles into the store. “We deal only with independent watch brands—period,” he says of the offerings. “The watches that we carry reflect our ethos: We manufacture everything by hand, the old-fashioned way of producing jewelry. That’s the most important thing: How their brand reflects the quality of our jewelry, and the energy and the artistic value that we invest into our jewelry as well.”

Although Silver officially joined the company only recently, his longstanding interest is apparent as he walks through the flagship, pulling out watch after watch and rattling off details about the gears and mechanics, as well as providing the occasional history lesson. (Watchmaker Urwerk, he tells me, derives its name from “the first city that documented the keeping of time, Ur, in ancient Mesopotamia.”) Many of the timepieces retail in the six figures, but Silver is quick to note that—whether it’s a watch, shirt or pair of shoes—“so much of the value of a luxury product is in the hours it takes to make it.” He points to his MB&F and adds: “This is titanium, steel, leather and some gold. There’s nothing that’s extraordinarily expensive about this watch, other than the design and the amount of time it takes to produce it. ... It’s less about the brand and the perception of it as it is the execution of excellence that I think is fascinating.”

Originally published in the July/August issue of Silicon Valley

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