Rolex is nudging towards working with fewer, larger, retail partners that can invest in prime locations and more space for substantial shop-in-shops or — better still — monobrand stores.
Ticking every box is Bucherer, the largest Rolex partner in Europe with a network of stores across Switzerland, Germany, France and the UK.
Bucherer’s presence in the UK, where it bought The Watch Gallery in 2016, comprises of the Selfridges Wonder Room of luxury watches, multi-brand stores in Covent Garden, the giant Westfield shopping centre in West London and a Rolex monobrand in Knightsbridge that is the largest standalone Rolex boutique in Europe.
At an official re-opening of the Knightsbridge showroom last night, the additional retail space created by a major refurbishment has been used to make it a more airy and welcoming environment to the casual customer coming in off the street, along with additional private and semi-private areas for meeting VIPs.
When your store is at the foot of London’s most expensive apartment block, One Hyde Park, reportedly home to oligarchs and Middle Eastern royalty, those private rooms are essential.
Summer is a crucial time for Knightsbridge retailers as second home residents escape to London to avoid the soaring temperatures of the Arabian Gulf. They are joined by tourists visiting famous landmarks like Harrods.
The new frontage of the Bucherer Rolex boutique, designed to look Rolex’s iconic fluted bezel, has transformed it from a quiet temple of horology into a destination sought out by clients looking to buy their first expensive watch from an immersive and fully-branded store.
Its claim to have one of the biggest assortments of Rolex watches — particularly bejewelled DayDates — makes it a practical choice for those wanting the browse the latest models as well.
WatchPro attended the official re-opening and was told by staff that the transformation in the store’s performance has been remarkable, with football increasing almost tenfold since the refurbishment was completed. Where once the staff were attending to 10 or so customers during a stint, now they are seeing over 100.
Bucherer is not done with investment in larger stores. Its multibrand showroom in Covent Garden is moving to a better location on the main piazza into a significantly larger unit.