Welcome to Episode 53 of the Tenn & Two Podcast!
Today we have another special episode as we are joined by our good friend Rob Caplan from Topper Jewelers in Burlingame, California. Rob is no stranger to the podcast as we visited Topper Jewelers in December of last year for the launch of their limited edition watch with Laco, which included a great interview with both Rob and the Laco team (if you missed that episode, check it out here).
About Topper Jewelers and Rob
We start off this episode chatting about the history of Topper Jewelers which was founded in 1940. It wasn’t until the late 40s that Rob’s family purchased the company and he became involved much later in the 90s. Their current location in Burlingame, California opened during the late 90s as well and has not moved since. Rob talks a bit about his history with watches which started with a Swatch watch early on in life. His first nice watch was a purchase that he had made for himself was a Tag Heuer Series 3000 which was his daily wear until he joined Topper Jewelers full time after law school. Needless to say, since then his collection has grown quite a bit as there has always been something that has drawn him to watches.
We chat for a bit about his personal collection which is based on the idea of pairing historical vintage watches with their modern counterparts. Some of his personal favorites include a late 60s Omega 300, vintage Zodiacs, golden Seiko tunas, a 35270 Speedmaster, and of course, the Topper limited edition watches that have been done.
Topper Jewelers and Limited Edition Watches
Rob and the Topper team have really carved out a name for themselves in terms of limited edition watches. So far, there are 11 watches that have been produced and with 5 more currently in production. The first two limited editions were to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the store in which Rob helped design a Nomos Tangente and the Bremont MBII which both sold out.
Topper followed these up the next year with an Oris limited edition, and then realized that they can tap into a market of focusing limited edition watches on pieces that had nothing to do with Topper itself, but with variations that were more for the watch community. The first example of this came with the Oris Diver 65 Topper limited edition. The next timepiece was a limited edition Nomos Worldtimer that was unique to the Burlingame, California area. With these, Topper jewelers has been able to establish a reputation with brands, showcasing successfully thought out collaborations.
One of the collaborations Rob is most proud of also happens to be our favorite which are the Zodiac Topper Sea Wolfs that were designed in collaboration with Eric Singer – yes, that Eric SInger from the band KISS. Rob chats with us about how he met Eric in 2013 when a friend let Eric know that there was a watch he had been looking at for some time available at Toppers on their pre-owned website. After speaking for some time, they learned that the two of them had alot in common. The two of them first partnered in working on the Oris Diver 65 in designing particular elements like the hands. When Rob mentioned to the creative director of Zodiac that he wanted to work with Eric on a set of Topper exclusives, he was met with an instant yes and there has since been a handful of these limited editions that the two of them have worked together on.
We bring up a recent article in The New York Times talking about a new limited edition coming up with up and coming brand Tockr for the new Top Gun film, their first Topper Jewelers chronograph watch. Rob talks about how this watch is a love letter designed for fighter jet pilots of the late 80s and how excited he is for its debut later this year. Check out the article here. Rob teases that there are a few others in the works right now, including another Zodiac.
One of the most amazing parts of Topper limited editions is that they don’t scream “Topper Limited Edition” on the dial. Rob talks about how they are watches designed by a watch enthusiast for watch enthusiasts, watches that should stand on their own.
The three of us chat briefly on the environment that Rob and the team at Topper have developed within the store. They have worked tirelessly with the Bay Area watch enthusiasts and various watch brands to cultivate a community centered watch culture. The store really is family, including baby Emma, Rob’s daughter that you can find running around Topper Jewelers quite often.
Wrist Watch Check
Before we wrap things up, we do a quick wrist watch check. Since Rob is our guest, he goes first and is wearing a G-Shock that he had purchased when Topper Jewelers first became an AD, the Porter limited edition full metal. Kat has the Seiko King Turtle on the wrist that she actually just picked up from Topper Jewelers just a few weeks ago.On Katlen’s wrist, her white Planet Ocean paired with a white rubber strap.
Thanks for tuning in and we hope you enjoyed! If you’re interested in checking Topper Jewelers out more, head over to their website here or check them out on Instagram! Enjoy, stay safe, and we’ll be speaking to you again soon!
Kat, Katlen, and Rob
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