As watch markets go, Los Angeles is one of the biggest in the country, if not the world. It stands to reason that the city’s community of watch collectors, enthusiasts, and aficionados have numerous options to get together.
There’s the local chapter of RedBar, the LA Watch Gang, Chrono Group LA and, as of mid-2020, Neighborhood Watch Club (NWC), arguably L.A.’s most down-to-earth collectors group.
“Everyone comes from all different backgrounds,” founder Jarrod Cooper tells Robb Report. “We have people who are extremely wealthy and others who have maybe one watch in their collection. That’s always been my aim: I want it to be inviting no matter who you are and what you collect.”
Cooper, an Australian entrepreneur (he is the founder of Project Solo, a high-end brand of athleticwear), moved from Melbourne to L.A. in 2018. Over the next two years, he tried to connect with some of L.A.’s existing collector groups but found that the meetups were either inconveniently located or too infrequent.
When the pandemic forced everyone into lockdowns, he began hosting weekly Zoom sessions called “Watches, Wine, Whiskey, Whatever Wednesdays.” NWC spun out of those virtual get-togethers.
Today, the group’s roster numbers nearly 300 members, and 30 to 40 people show up for its monthly events, which Cooper holds at different pubs, clubs, and bars around the city, hitting all the key neighborhoods (including Culver City, downtown L.A., Hollywood, and Santa Monica).
Get-togethers have included an afternoon at the Piaget boutique in Beverly Hills to preview 2023 novelties over glasses of champagne; a happy hour meetup at a club in Hollywood, where members enjoyed cocktails, watches, and fashion from the Collective, Graal, and Standard H; and an upcoming event at the Omega boutique at the Beverly Center to celebrate the 60th anniversary of James Bond.
In February, Cooper introduced a paid membership option to the NWC community in addition to a regular (free) membership. For $30/month, paying members (known as sponsors) get priority access to special events where capacity is limited (such as most boutique events), admission to the group’s annual watch swap meet, $10 off watch straps, and a branded NWC shirt.
They also get priority access to monthly dinners and watch-centric vacations that Cooper is in the midst of organizing. For example, at the end of April, he’s coordinating a trip to San Francisco for the Windup Fair and an annual Porsche event that happens to take place at the same time.
In 2021, Cooper introduced the group’s first special edition, the S.U.F 180 “NWC” Special Edition by Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva. “A few changes were made from the original S.U.F 180 design,” says Cooper. “Firstly, being the removal of the date. I wanted to enjoy the beautiful symmetry of the dial. Secondly, the removal of 180 and the addition of NWC. Thirdly, the NWC frosted blue dial. This was quite a process to achieve but we both agreed that it was well worth the effort.”
The goal, says Cooper, is to introduce future watch collaborations annually, and to cover different price brackets, from $500 microbrands to bigger brands that retail between $5,000 and $10,000.
Cooper came by his love of watches when he was growing up in Perth, Western Australia. He bought his first serious watch, an IWC Yacht Club, when he was just 23 years old. He’s a fan of vintage watches, modern watches, and, especially, independent makers, including F.P. Journe, whose watches he has collected.
“These days, I’m very particular,” he says. “I like to have a smaller collection but pieces that mean a lot to me. I ordered a watch from a Korean watchmaker, Minhoon Yoo. This is his first watch he’s releasing. I found him through Instagram, started following his journey, and liked everything he was doing. I would rather support him than the big brands. I put a deposit down for one of his watches and should hopefully be receiving it this year.”
While he’s busy promoting his Project Solo brand, Cooper continues to devote much of his spare time to Neighborhood Watch Club. “I like getting everyone together,” he says. “Not a lot of people understand watches. They ask, why would you spend $500, let alone $5,000, on a watch when you have your phone? The aim is to get like-minded people together in the same space.
“Usually if you’re into watches, you’re into cars or knives—these are people who’ve got a collector’s head on them,” Cooper adds. “You get them together and they start going down that rabbit hole.”