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WATCHPRO editor-in-chief and co-founder Rob Corder.

CORDER’S COLUMN: Rolex showrooms are turning into temples

Rolex USA is building a 43,000 square foot shrine to the watchmaking deity.

There appears to be an inverse correlation between the chances of an average member of the public being able to buy a Rolex watch this side of hell freezing over and the size of the brand’s boutiques.

For several years, Rolex’s flagship in Dubai, run by its partner Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, has been the largest in the world at almost 10,000 square feet over three floors.

Its boutique in Knightsbridge, now run by Bucherer, is half the size of the Dubai store, but has still been the largest in Europe since first opening in 2011.

Both these records are going to be smashed in the coming few years.

Up first will be Watches of Switzerland opening a Rolex megastore on London’s Old Bond Street.

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Rolex’s Bond Street showroom is under construction. (Photo: Rob Corder)

That showroom is expected to occupy 7,200 sq ft over three floors with space for retail, client hospitality and exhibitions about the past, present and future of Rolex as a watchmaker and philanthropic foundation.

Hoardings protecting the construction are now up on Bond Street and the store is expected to open this summer.

World’s largest Rolex store

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Rolex is building a four-storey, 43,000 square foot flagship in New York City. (Picture from David Chipperfield architects)

The world record for the largest Rolex flagship will pass to the United States in 2026 when a brand new 28-storey building on Manhattan’s famous 5th Avenue opens as Rolex‚Äôs USA headquarters in addition to a massive 43,000 square feet showroom over four floors.

Details of the project have come from architects and real estate consultants. Rolex has not said how it will use the cavernous space, but it seems certain to set a new standard for how to elevate customers’ experience.

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Rolex’s USA headquarters will also be in the 5th Avenue skyscraper.

It has also not said whether a retail partner will run the flagship. If so, Bucherer, Wempe and Watches of Switzerland will be duking it out for the honour.

I guess by 2026, supply and demand for Rolex watches may be more in balance. We are certainly heading towards a more normal market, due to most Rolex models no longer being worth considerably more than their retail price on the secondary market.

There is one obvious way to increase stock levels to these palatial Rolex boutiques, which is to expand the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned proposition.

For a vision of how this might work in years to come, just take a look at any official luxury car dealership, where around half its showroom footprint is devoted to second hand motors, but sees them presented with the same care and attention as new models.

But really these megastores will feel most like awe-inducing monuments to the mighty Rolex, and ensuring The Crown is untouchable for mere mortals is all part of the pitch.