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On time with Paris Hilton
Watch Stories

On time with Paris Hilton

Friday, 04 September 2020
By Frank Rousseau
Frank Rousseau

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7 min read

Paris Hilton, who has an impressive collection of purses as well as watches, launched her own collection of timepieces in 2007. Like her, they are “made to sparkle”.

I have this image of you boarding a Barbie-pink plane with a couple of chihuahuas under your arm, a watch on each wrist to keep track of time zones, and bare-chested flight attendants to take care of your three dozen Vuitton trunks. Caricature or close to the truth?

(laughs). Well to start with, I don’t travel in Barbie-pink planes with a couple of chihuahuas, and the cabin crew keep their shirts on! As for the amount of luggage I take, it depends where I’m going and how long I’ll be away. If it’s for the Cannes Film Festival, for example, I’ll probably take a dozen suitcases. I actually don’t travel with Vuitton luggage any more. Baggage handlers aren’t careful enough, either out of pure jealousy or because they don’t realise how much it’s worth. And I only wear one watch at a time. My favourites are a Rolex GMT-Master II in pink gold with diamonds and my Rolex Daytona in Everose gold. It means the world to me. I’ve always loved Rolex watches. They’re well-designed, reliable and always in style. A Rolex is always a sign of good taste.

Do you remember your first luxury watch?

Yes. I was in New York and I was 15 years old. Donald Trump had just opened his modelling agency and he wanted me to be the first model on the books. He asked my parents’ permission and they refused. I can still hear my father saying, “When Paris is eighteen she can do whatever she wants with her life, but no way is she becoming a model right now!” I didn’t listen to them. A couple of weeks later I was the face of the Iceberg campaign, photographed by David LaChappelle. I used my first fee to buy Swarovski crystals, a Dolce & Gabbana bra and a second-hand Cartier watch (laughs). It was a solid silver Tank with a crimson crocodile strap!

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton
When did you really develop a passion for watches?

From the age of twenty or so. Before watches, I was into purses. I was given my first Chanel purse for Christmas when I was five years old. It was tiny and pink. It was one of a lot of purses, including several Birkins, that were stolen in 2007, along with most of the other valuables I owned. The thieves were a gang of teenagers who called themselves the Bling Ring. Not to mention the watches. They took advantage of the fact I was out of town to come back several times and help themselves. Now I only have 3,000 purses and 500 pairs of shoes…

Three thousand purses? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. I have five walk-in closets on different floors of my home and they’re all colour-coded. What I mean is, I store all my pink bikinis, shoes, clothes and accessories in one closet, white in another, beige in another, etc. Everything else is in the garage because I’ve run out of space!

Were you able to recover your valuables after the gang was arrested?

No. I didn’t get back anything worth recovering. Anything that had monetary or sentimental value, like the watches, necklaces and rings I inherited from my grandmother, had been pawned or sold at Venice Beach stores, even garage sales. All the stuff that came down to me through my family has been scattered to the winds. These were all things that meant a lot to me and I hate to think I’ll never see them again.

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton
You have been known to wear an $18 million watch. Isn't that asking for trouble?

I like nice things, things that no-one else has, and I don’t see why I should change the way I live just because my home was burgled. Of course, at some point you do wonder whether you should maybe keep a low profile. But I’m a woman and I like pretty, shiny things. What really annoys me is that people think of me as a daddy’s girl. You wouldn’t believe the stories that are told about me. Someone wrote that I’ve never done a day’s work in my life when I work full-time developing my company. Supposedly I got my first credit card when I was thirteen, which is a complete lie. When I was seventeen, I begged my parents to let me model but they said no, not until I’d finished my studies. After that I moved to LA and refused to accept any money from my family. I wanted to succeed by myself. I single-handedly built my empire. My great-grandfather was a bellboy before he became a hotel magnate. He was a fighter and I get that from him. I wanted to be known for myself, which is why I decided to create my own brand. At first I wanted to call it “Paris”, but I knew I could achieve greater things if I added my surname. After I appeared in The Simple Life, you wouldn’t believe the number of people who had me down as a dumb blonde. Deep down, it doesn’t bother me. I know who I am. Believe me, you don’t build up a $300 million business without a couple of brain cells!

As well as your fragrances, hotels, cosmetics, lingerie and other "Paris Hilton" branded products, you also have your own watch collection.

That’s right. Since 2007. Like me, they’re made to sparkle! They’re original, fun to wear and affordable. The idea was that women should be able to wear something stylish and elegant on their wrist without having to empty their bank account… or their partner’s! (laughs)

Where does your interest in watches come from?

From my grandmother. She was always very careful about how she looked and, as a little girl, I was totally in awe. For me, my grandmother was the epitome of glamour. She had this gorgeous marquetry box, set with turquoises and filled with treasures including some gold and platinum watches – gifts my grandfather gave her that she cherished. True love tokens! If I have children, I’d want to give them all my love, of course, but I’d also want them to inherit my passion for beautiful things. I’m lucky enough to have travelled extensively and to have met wonderful artists, capable of transforming an idea into a work of art. This is one of the reasons I find watches so fascinating. A watch starts out as an idea, then it becomes a drawing with calculations and dimensions. From there it becomes bridges, pinions, a winder and other micro-components on a workbench which then have to be assembled within a very small space. Taken separately, none of these parts has any interest. It’s only once they’ve been assembled by the master watchmaker, only when they’re connected to each other, that they become something. Imagine giving life to inanimate pieces of metal. There’s something magical about a watch. It’s like a tiny heart beating on your wrist with the sole purpose of giving the time, the date and maybe moon phases. Personally, I only look for basic functions in a watch.

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton
And if Paris Hilton were a watch...

It would be sparkly and definitely pink! It would always give the right time because punctuality is a sign of respect towards the person waiting. I’m the complete opposite to Karl Lagerfeld who claimed he hated wearing a watch as an excuse for the fact he was so often late.

You talked about being original. You certainly have an original name.

I know. I hear there’s a city in Europe with the same name. Honestly, you French, you have no imagination! (laughs)

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