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BREAKING NEWS: WatchPro goes watch shopping

It will take a few more weeks for many people to overcome the fear of leaving their homes and venturing out into the world to enjoy visiting non-essential shops.

Four months of one-sided media coverage has flipped the brain’s fight or flight instinct into a near fixed state of terror that will take time and a dramatic change in tone from the government and the press to unwind, WatchPro’s editor Rob Corder writes.

But the statistics speak for themselves. New Cases and deaths have been halving every 2-3 weeks since mid-April, prompting even this timid government to ease restrictions and encourage retailers back to work.

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Having followed the ruinous lock down rules throughout, I was not going to miss the opportunity to get back out to shops on the day they reopened and thought I would record a quick tour of the key Central London retail areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Knightsbridge.

The experience, as I hope the video shows, is concerning from a business perspective, because the watch shops I visit were seeing very few customers on their first day back, but deeply reassuring because every store felt safe, well-organised and — importantly — just as pleasurable as always to spend time in.

Remarkably, I even found some brand new watches that were launched during lock down and have found their way into stores already.

Trying on a 2020 Breitling Chronomat and discovering Oris’s limited edition Holstein Diver 65 in bronze on the day it was unveiled were particular highlights.

There is nothing new from Rolex, but that did not prevent the brand attracting more customers than any other on the tour of London. I found customers strapping into Rolex watches in Watches of Switzerland on Regent Street, Selfridges, Harrods, the Knightsbridge monobrand store run by Bucherer and the WOSG-run boutique on Bond Street.

The key conclusion is that shopping for watches feels safe for customer and staff, and the security measures in place do not spoil the look and feel of the stores or the fun of sitting down with consultants to try stuff on.

My experience was that the train was safe, the tube was fine, walking the streets was entirely comfortable and the shops and their staff are just as enjoyable as ever.

5 Comments

  1. For what its worth I popped into my local AD yesterday and while there were screens/gloves/masks etc there was a couple dropping £20k on a Rolex at the other counter… so people are definitely buying

    1. People were definitely buying Rolexes and Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet on Bond Street were both closed. I learned on my trip around the stores that any customers who paid a deposit on a Rolex during lock down has to come into the authorised dealer they bought it from to collect it. Other brands that do ecommerce would have simply been delivering them to homes. I was told it is almost impossible to get appointments to sit down with Rolex ADs for the next week or two. Once again, Rolex has used its management of scarcity (watches and now appointments) to keep people wanting more.

  2. Great bit of filming and great to see clients coming back out. I firmly believe that we will come out of this bigger and better!

    1. Thanks Claire. I can’t wait to get up to Glasgow and Edinburgh when the batty first minister stops playing politics and starts opening shops!

  3. I’m sure it’s a worthwhile video and I would like to view it, but, I keep getting a message to say “I can’t watch this video on my device” any ideas why please? (devices are a macbook and iphone)

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Tags : bond streetbreitlinggrand seikoharrodsOmegaPatek PhilippeRolexselfridgeswatches of switzerlandWatchPro Originals
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder