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Hing Wa Lee is planning a beautiful rooftop terrace at its Larchmont, Los Angeles showroom when it opens in 2024.

CORDER’S COLUMN TREND ALERT: Watch and jewellery stores with al fresco terraces

Forget cocktail bars, outdoor entertaining is the hottest trend for luxury watch and jewellery retailers.

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Rob Corder.

Forget cocktail bars, outdoor terraces are the new must-have for luxury watch and jewelry retailers.

OK, this is currently a trend emerging in America, which has more wide open spaces than we do in the UK, but what begins Stateside so often crosses the Atlantic, if not to these shores, then almost certainly on the Continent.

In the past few weeks, what once appeared a niche consideration for forward-thinking jewellers and brands has become the hottest trend in showroom design.

One of the trailblazers for the trend was Audemars Piguet, which managed to secure a location in New York City for its AP House that included a large outdoor terrace.

Quite a feat among the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan, and proof that it is possible to find outdoor space in the centre of busy cities.

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Audemars Piguet secured a space with a rare as hens’ teeth outdoor terrace in Manhattan.

AP is not alone in offering a bit of open air space where customers can see how their watches look under natural outdoor light.

Panerai’s new New York City showroom also has a balcony overlooking the bustling city life of Madison Avenue.

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Panerai’s two floor showroom has access to a balcony overlooking Madison.

Independent retailers are also getting in on the action.

As we reported last week in the American edition of WatchPro, Gearys in Beverley Hills is opening side-by-side Rolex and Patek Philippe boutiques on Rodeo Drive next year in a building that is owned by the family of Gearys president Tom Blumenthal.

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Artist rendering of how the Gearys-run Rolex and Patek Philippe showrooms will look on Rodeo Drive when they open next year.

He revealed to WatchPro that the stores will share a huge rooftop terrace with views over the star-studded Los Angeles enclave.

Also in Los Angeles, Hing Wa Lee is planning to open a third major multibrand showroom next year, and owner David Lee is particularly proud of a spectacular terrace he has planned, which even has views of the famous hillside Hollywood sign.

It would be easy to dismiss this trend as something that iconic cities like New York or Los Angeles (which also has the weather) could accommodate, but al fresco retail is spreading across the country.

Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh is working on huge expansion and refurbishment of its showroom.

Henne jewelers scaledHow Henne Jewelers looked before the expansion.

When the $12 million project completes, most likely in January 2024, it will have 5,000 square feet on the ground floor, including a Rolex shop in shop and branded areas for Tudor, TAG Heuer, Grand Seiko and Montblanc, plus fine jewellery.

Upstairs will be 3,000 square feet devoted to bridal jewellery, with private consultation areas and even an outdoor terrace where a couple can see what their engagement or wedding rings look like in natural light.

And 135 miles to the northeast of Pittsburgh, even the chilly winters of Cleveland have not put off its local Rolex AD, Alson Jewelers, which is doubling the size of its current showroom and including a beautiful rooftop terrace with its own bar.

Alson jewelers night time terraceAlson’s building will have a large rooftop terrace for customer events and for looking at watches and jewellery in the daylight.

Alson jewelers renderingThe biggest watch industry real estate project of them all, the replacement of Rolex’s headquarters in New York City, is also expected to pick up on the trend.

Rolex new york headquarters

Architectural renderings by David Chipperfield show a 30-storey tiered building on the corner of 5th Avenue and 53rd Street with outdoor space on at least three of the floors.

Rolex will occupy the first four levels, including a ground floor showroom, but it is not clear whether customers will have access to any of the outdoor terrace.

If you think this trend could not possibly take off in the UK, just take a look at what CW Sellors is building in Derbyshire.

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CW Sellors’ Carsington project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.

The Carsington project, which will showcase the finest jewellery and watches from around the world, will have a restaurant and Champagne bar on-site, all with access to the great outdoors with views over open countryside and a shimmering lake.

The site is expected to open in the spring of 2024 and represents a new concept for retail in this country, not only for its size and outdoor areas, but for its remote location where customers will be expected to drive (or fly in by helicopter) from considerable distances away.

For that to work, it has to appeal as a great day out as well as a shopping opportunity, which is exactly where American retailers are heading.

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