Five Minutes With The Founder: Kristen Shirley of La Patiala
Seasoned journalist and bon vivant Kristen Shirley just launched a new timepiece-focused section of her online luxury encyclopedia, La Patiala.
This week, Kristen Shirley officially launched “The Watch Encyclopedia,” a comprehensive watch guide covering everything from moon phases to MOP. With years of experience in the luxury industry, it was only a matter of time before she added watches to the growing topics of her La Patiala luxury reference site.
To celebrate the launch, we sat down with the veteran luxury journalist to learn more about her project and why watches are now such an integral part in not only La Patiala, but also Shirley’s career.
A Luxury Breakdown
J.J. Owens: We’ve heard you are launching a new part of your luxury encyclopedia, tell us about it!
Kristen Shirley: Yes! I am thrilled to introduce the watch encyclopedia. It is the most comprehensive section of La Patiala to date. It features dozens of stories that explain all aspects of watchmaking, including movements, complications, types of watches, and métiers d’art.
JO: The watches section or wing, as I like to call it, is incredibly comprehensive, how did you choose what terminology to include for the launch?
KS: When I first began covering watches, I was not a connoisseur. I had one watch that I inherited from my grandmother, and that was enough for me. Once I started to write about watches, I quickly learned what made them so interesting. However, it was rather difficult to learn about watches because most websites focus on news and assume a baseline of knowledge. I didn’t even know the difference between a manual and an automatic movement!
Over the years, I developed a deep understanding of the industry. As a former watch neophyte, I knew I could translate watch jargon and their complexity in a way that would make watches approachable to people with no watch knowledge. And as a journalist with close to a decade of experience covering watches, I write features that interest experienced collectors as well.
That First Watch Moment, And Beyond
JO: With a career that spans all things luxury, what was the moment you fell in love with watches?
KS: My first trip to the now-defunct watch fair Baselworld really ignited my love for watches. I had no idea that watches could be so interesting, or that they could include so many complications in such tiny cases. It was truly mind boggling for me, and I wanted to learn everything I could. I saw hundreds of watches in a week, and it really opened my eyes.
JO: What’s next for La Patiala?
KS: First, I’m taking a vacation! Then, I’ll continue to expand the watch encyclopedia with additional stories and brand profiles. I’m also working on my engagement ring and whiskey sections. Every day is different when you cover the entire luxury world.
JO: What was the last watch you bought?
KS: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duetto, I’ve coveted it for years and I bought it to honor the launch of the watch encyclopedia.
JO: Who embodies the La Patiala life in the watch industry?
KS: Zoe Abelson of @watchgirloffduty lives a fabulous life. I don’t know her personally, but finding people’s grail watches must be a dream job.
JO: What is the most glamorous grail watch?
KS: A Cartier Crash! I adore Cartier’s fancy-shaped watches and the Crash is the ultimate grail.
JO: Where are you unwinding after a day of watches in Geneva?
KS: Le Tsé Fung at La Réserve, there’s nothing more relaxing than having a glass of champagne watching the sunset over the lake eating too much Peking duck.
JO: Best watch to gift for the holidays?
KS: A Calatrava from Patek Philippe!