Britain’s second biggest Rolex retailer, The Watch Gallery, slips into history today as its new owner Bucherer takes charge.
From today, the website www.thewatchgallery.com redirects automatically to www.bucherer.co.uk. Users are also redirected to the UK website if they try to access the international website Bucherer.com.
The group’s physical stores in London have been renamed.
The Selfridges Wonder Room continues to be run by the same Watch Gallery team, but is now referred to online as Bucherer UK Selfridges.
The former Covent Garden Watch Gallery is now Bucherer UK Covent Garden.
Rolex at One Hyde Park used to have a Watch Gallery name plate by its door. That sign now says Rolex by Bucherer UK, as is the Rolex boutique inside Selfridges’ Wonder Room.
The only Watch Gallery to retain its name, for now, is at Westfield shopping centre in West London, which is about to undergo a major refurbishment that will double its size.
Bucherer is one of the biggest Swiss watch retailers in the world. Its Lucerne headquarters occupies four floors and attracts 3000 shoppers per day. Its Paris showroom is three storeys.
David Coleridge, chairman of The Watch Gallery until its acquisition and now managing director of Bucherer UK, says that growing the size of Bucherer’s London outlets will be the next great leap forward.
“We took more space in the Selfridges Wonder Room last year, and we are going take additional space to put fine jewellery in there as well. So, we will continue to expand in Selfridges.
“Of our other shops, we are looking to expand all of them except Rolex at One Hyde Park where it is already the largest Rolex store in the country. Within a couple of years we will have added a significant amount of square footage,” he told WatchPro in our Big Interview this month.
The other major investment is online, with Thewatchgallery.com becoming Bucherer.co.uk. More significantly, the European websites under Bucherer.com are being overhauled and turned into transactional e-commerce sites.
Previously Bucherer.com was just a promotional website for its watch and jewellery business. Now it is a transactional ecommerce site thanks to the expertise of The Watch Gallery.
“The company will start the consumer rebranding process at the beginning of October. Thewatchgallery.com will change to Bucherer.co.uk, and the branding on our shops will change. At that same time, a transactional website for Bucherer in Switzerland will launch. That is what they got from us, and that moves them on apace. Arguably, not on that date but soon after, Bucherer will be able to go transactional in any of the countries where it trades. That will make it the first pan-European transactional website,” Mr Coleridge reveals.
A full page Rolex advertisement appearing in The Times today, was co-branded with Bucherer. This is part of a major marketing push to introduce the Bucherer name to consumers that Mr Coleridge concedes will have little knowledge of the Swiss retail giant.