Relojería Desde 1925 * JJ Dominé 5 * Valencia
All that glitters is gold or silver or precious stones and even beautiful watches.
The shop window of Relojeria-Joyeria Esparza is testament to this, as, like a magpie, I was drawn towards it whilst in search of a jeweller’s to take my watches to for replacement batteries.
It is one of those establishments where I feel slightly in awe of what I see, almost to the point of presuming I have no right to enter. Everything looked fabulously expensive and beautifully crafted, from the designs of Salvatore Plata, to Casio G Shock watches as well as the Citizen and Seiko watches. Relojeria-Joyeria being a Seiko, Casio and Citizen official distributor. Watch out (excuse the pun) if you are a collector, Esparza will hook you in due to the amazing display as well as their online presence, initiated by the fourth generation of the team, Javier, four years ago, in a bid to make sure that Esparza, although offering traditional face to face customer service, has a foot very much in the 21st century, with a website, Facebook page and an Instagram account, with an impressive 50.000 followers.
But Relojeria Joyeria is no newcomer to the jewellery and watch business. Started by Javier’s great grandfather around the turn of the century in El Cabanyal, a very old part of Valencia, and once upon a time a separate town. In truth nobody in the family has an exact date of the opening, due to the great grandfather dying when still young.
But it can be said with confidence, Relojeria Joyeria dates back at least as far as 1925, with the opening of the shop at 318 Avenida del Puerto, which despite Javier’s great grandfather anticipating problems with the landlord at the outset, went on to trade all the way up to 2018-the closure of which being due to a massive rent increase. Sadly, 318 still stands empty today whilst a stone’s throw away the shop in Calle Doctor Juan Jose Domine, Relojeria Joyeria, is thriving, with an interior refurbishment going on as I write. The shop in JJ Doming was opened a couple of years after the opening of the Avenida del Puerto shop.
Whilst relating the beginnings of the business Javier explained that it was his great grandfather’s love of watches and repairing them that had sent him down this pathway. But, as Javier went on to explain, it wasn’t just his great grandfather in the shop; he employed twelve watch repairers who also designed and repaired jewellery. They worked for other jewellery shops and businesses in the city that did not have the necessary expertise for watch and jewellery repairs, or the time, and/or preferred to pay other businesses to do the work for them. He set the craftsmen up with benches and they got to work, so unlike what I had originally imagined, which was a lone jeweller.
Javier’s father, Ramon, along with one of Javier’s uncles, Enrique, started in the Calle Juan Jose Domine shop and both of them are still there today. I was lucky enough to meet both of them on my first visit to the shop. I was struck by their genuine warmth and humility, and this is what drew me back to the shop to ask if I could write about the story of Relojeria Joyeria. Three more of Javier’s uncles remained in the Avenida del Puerto shop. On quizzing Javier on what took him, the fourth generation of this family, into the jewellery business and not elsewhere, he explained that he had gone to university and studied civil engineering, and also spent time in England in order to learn English before deciding to follow his father and uncles into the business. ‘I didn’t want the shop to close when my father retires in a few years time. It seemed a shame not to keep it going, so the best way to stop the shop closing was to go into the business myself. But like all good businesses they need updating from time to time, so besides the interior refurbishment I decided that Relojeria Joyeria needed to be brought firmly up to date with an online presence. This has worked really well and opened up opportunities to sell not only outside of Valencia but also out side of Spain. So in a nutshell we are a traditional business using modern technology; we are in the top ten list of shops that supply the Casio G Shock Watch.’
Javier also has an older brother who currently lives in Finland; he has been helping out with the graphic design for the new-look interior, and generally overseeing the revamp of the shop. He has considered moving back to Valencia to help when their father retires. Besides all the impressive achievements above, the icing on the cake for me was when Javier pointed to the elegant clock tower which stands guard by the Marina and explained that any clock repairs are done by them, and if that wasn't impressive enough, just behind the shop in Placa del Tribunal de les Aigues stands the impressive church of Santa Maria del Mar, and guess what? All clock repairs of this beautiful church are also carried out by Relojeria Joyeria.
‘Next stop Big Ben’ I joked! ‘Repairs are being done at the moment, if you hurry maybe you can help repair there too!’