Rolex To ‘Reign And Serve You’ As Your Horological King At The New Rolex Sydney Boutique
Editor’s Note: The new Rolex Sydney Boutique by The Hour Glass opened its doors in December. Covid and all, we didn’t really get a chance to visit it until this week. Courtesy The Hour Glass, we got a tour of this new jewel in the Australian watch scene and it has left us quite impressed.
Borrowing a few words from Queen Elizabeth II’s Speech (from her Coronation Day in 1953), if I was to sum up my thoughts on the new boutique, they would go somewhat like this: You can trust Rolex to pave the way to establish itself in Sydney as the “Symbol of Power and Splendour”. Rolex is set to “reign and serve” Sydney-siders as their horological king.
From one royalty to another. After all, it befits the wearer of the horological crown to be praised with the words by the wearer of the regal crown.
The more I dive deep into the world of horology, the more I see it as a game of chess between brands. Now with both Patek’s and Rolex’s largest boutiques in this part of the world finding a home in Sydney, the stage is set for the clash of the titans. Fortunately for us, there is enough space and horological interest in Australia for both of these legends to co-exist. And thankfully so. For Australia as a watch market is still in its infancy, with consistent growth and still potential waiting to be tapped.
Painting The Landscape
The new Rolex Sydney Boutique calls 192 Pitt Street its home. Both the building itself and the location play in a big part in aiding this new venture’s success.
The Heritage building at 192 Pitt Street built in the Federation Free Classical style has had many tenants over the years – Shirley House, London Bank Chambers & Fay’s Chambers. Many names, one eminent location.
Originally it was a four-storey London Bank Chambers that was built in 1888. Before its subsequent modification, its tenants included jewellers and watchmakers amongst other businesses. Then it was modified to become the six-storey Fay’s Chambers in 1918.
Coincidentally around the same time, in 1920, Montres Rolex S.A. was registered in Geneva.
And after an extensive refurbishment of this space, and post an entire century, 192 Pitt Street gets another watchmaking tenant. Fate or just excellent location, whatever you may like to call it, it works.
And this time it’s no ordinary watchmaker – it’s a brand that like the building it is housed in, is a watchmaking powerhouse that is seeped in heritage, standing on the strong foundations of time itself. And like the nicely refurbished building, it has stepped into the modern world, performing a balancing act that not many brands can boast of.
Welcome Addition To The Aussie Luxury Market
I remember walking into David Jones in 2009 and asking the salesperson if they stocked Dior jeans. From the effortful task of explaining to him that I wasn’t speaking gibberish to being told there is no such thing, I realised that international luxury fashion brands in Australia were still a distant reality.
But then in 2011, the $1.2-billion investment as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Westfield Sydney came about as a “world of shopping under one roof”. “Sydney’s prestigious Westfield Mall is the site of Prada’s latest flagship boutique,” said Elite Traveler.
This was a game-changer.
This Westfield Sydney, is still a relatively new addition to the Sydney CBD, taking centre-stage, with brands like Tiffany to Berluti, and Chanel To Gucci, all lined up showcasing their goods to the wonderment of those queued up outside some of these stores. We have come a long way since 2009 and I am sure that gentleman now knows what Dior is. But there is still always room for growth. We still don’t have Goyard yet for instance.
Let’s fast forward to somewhat the present day, and talk about watches within the luxury industry.
“New wave of luxury brands heading for Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast in 2019”, read a headline by the Australian Financial Review back at the beginning of Jan 2019. More recently DMARGE reported that “Luxury Brands Shift Attention Closer To Home With International Travel ‘Death’” and talked about how the time to invest in a luxury timepiece has never been better.
In the last year and a bit, both the luxury fashion and luxury watch scene in Sydney has made its presence felt.
It was only recently Patek Philippe (in 2019) opened its largest boutique in the southern hemisphere with J Farren-Price. Then Grand Seiko opened its first boutique, and around the same time Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and IWC made their presence felt.
All of these are around the Westfield: mainly Castlereagh Street, Pitt St, King St. and Pitt St. Mall. This assorted group of watch brand storefronts around the Westfield is something I would refer to as a ‘luxury square’.
Back in the day, there used to be public squares and piazzas. Now with the modern mall and architecture, that’s a thing of the past. But bringing its soul back is this modern square with a plethora of watch boutiques, particularly this one end of Pitt St Mall that meets Market St.
Here, in this modern ‘luxury square’ first came TAG Heuer in 2016, opening its flagship store at Westfield Sydney. I remember how impressive it looked — and still does — and how nice it felt being inside a modern watch boutique. This was a grand 96sqm. Then more recently Breitling and Grand Seiko moved to this new ‘luxury square’ near Market Street and Pitt Street.
And now next to these is the behemoth 400sqm new Rolex Sydney boutique, majestically towering over all it surveys.
“Creative genius is a divinely bestowed gift which is the coronation of the few,” said Margaret Elizabeth Sangster.
The new Rolex Sydney Boutique is a stoke of creative (and business) genius that is set to bestow a horological gift.
Experiencing The Coronation
Enough background; let’s talk about the new Rolex Sydney boutique more in detail, shall we?
It’s time to step into an unparalleled world of luxury at the new Rolex Sydney Boutique.
Initially, I was expecting this to be just another space selling watches. Happy to be proven wrong, I ended up somewhat falling in love with the ambience.
See the thing is, I personally, prefer to visit boutiques and shop in Singapore. There is a certain sense of added charm that the Singapore boutiques have that I find appealing.
And given I quite nonchalantly walked into the new Rolex Sydney Boutique without any extraordinary expectations, my reaction what that of a welcome surprise, partly because it felt like I have walked into The Hour Glass Malmaison adjoining the Grand Park Orchard in Singapore. True they both have different design elements, but that feeling of uber-luxe is present in both, something that I have missed a bit given travel has been put to a stop courtesy Covid.
Besides the elegant charm, the next thing you notice is the excellent use of green and gold, colours uniting both Rolex and Australia.
The main feature that draws first attention is the two-storied custom-designed chandelier. This is a bespoke, five-meter tall, hand-blown crystal glass chandelier that not only spans the entry-level ladies floor and the men’s floor above, but also visually ties in the boutique as a uniform space for those seeking luxury solace.
After you have spent some time marvelling at it, there is the backlit emerald aqua wall that spans the ground and first floor. Its wave motif references the iconic Oyster, and this green waves Rolex motif wall found so prominently in their stores is impressive enough to form for an ideal Insta selfie backdrop (though sadly, yet understandably, photography is not allowed in the boutique).
Talking about golden colour, it is present in various hues that range from bright gold to brown to almost pale white: beige leather finished with bronze trims, walls that feature textures from walnut brown wood to beige-coloured stone, and the hand-crafted stucco panel in an off-white colour that illustrates the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But I was best impressed by the basement level exhibition space, that is accessed via a grand staircase. This was truly worth appreciating as let’s be frank, watch stores are watch stores, that is, spaces designed to sell.
But the moment you introduce a space that is not intended for selling per se but for allowing oneself to immerse in the world of that brand, that’s truly special.
Currently, the exhibition focusses on the Rolex Explorer range of watches. It is called A Watch Born to Explore and features both Explorer and Explorer II watches. There is one panel in particular, besides the illustrated panels and films, that stole the moment.
It is the panel where they showcase how a simple rectangular block of 904L steel takes shape to transform into a polished watch case. If you like watches, and especially Rolex, and even if you are not thinking of buying a watch right this second, visiting the basement floor of this new Rolex Sydney boutique is highly recommended. It just puts their art into a tangible perspective.
This is one boutique that besides looking from the perspective of a watch reviewer, I can also appreciate as an architect. The attention to detail when it comes to colours and patterns found in the walls, ceiling, fittings, and furnishings, is worth commending them upon.
Another aspect I really liked is the abundance of both natural and artificial lighting – more often than not, many retailers, at least here in Sydney, have dark lighting inside the showrooms. Personally, I find it very hard to shop given I can’t really see the timepieces properly. Thankfully, the new Rolex Sydney boutique manages to avoid this trap.
Overall, it just feels nice being there.
And also praiseworthy is that this is a great example of how two names can meet to create something worthwhile: namely Rolex and The Hour Glass.
The Hour Glass is one of the world’s leading specialist luxury watch retailers that have a presence in twelve key cities in the Asia Pacific region.
“My family have worked in partnership with Rolex for over 70 years and this Rolex Boutique marks an incredibly exciting milestone for The Hour Glass. Pitt Street and Market Street in Sydney are arguably among the world’s fastest developing luxury precincts and this three-story, historical building reinforces our commitment to present the best of Rolex to our community of watch enthusiasts in the city of Sydney,” said Mr Michael Tay, Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass.
I will leave this feature here, but will simply add: the new Rolex Sydney Boutique might be a coronation moment for the luxury watch industry here in Sydney, but a visit to the boutique allows one to revel in it.
It allows you to create a rare and welcome moment – an experience that syncs with the timeless products the brand makes.
Acting as the playground for the child underneath that suit, Rolex stamps its presence with a bang in the Australian watch market. The largest Rolex Boutique in the Southern Hemisphere is now open for business.
Your move, rest of the industry.
To find out more about Rolex watches, please head to their website here. You can visit the new boutique at 192 Pitt St (02) 9160 3888. We would like to thank The Hour Glass team for the organising the boutique tour. All images Copyright © Rolex unless otherwise specified.