The last eighteen months have been a challenge for businesses of all shapes and sizes, from your local deli to luxury department stores. Lockdown restrictions, economic uncertainty and reduced consumer confidence have forced retailers, in particular, to drastically reevaluate their business models.
For many retailers, that’s meant a pivot towards online-only shopfronts, click-and-collect or home delivery. Turns out that even includes one of the luxury watch world’s biggest brands: Rolex.
The world’s most successful watchmaker and the most famous luxury brand bar none, Rolex is known for being notoriously protective of its brand image and has never had an online sales presence. But when Rolex opened a new boutique in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, right in the middle of a global pandemic – they decided to try something new.
Scotland’s only Rolex store has enlisted limousine drivers to make deliveries of its famous watches, with staff chauffeur-driven as far north as Ullapool and parts of England to ensure customers received the same luxury one-to-one in-store service they’ve grown accustomed to, The Glasgow Herald relates.
It’s a novel way to continue selling high-end timepieces in the middle of a pandemic. Like the world’s most expensive Deliveroo order… Other watch brands’ European boutiques have also pivoted towards this model, including IWC Schaffhausen’s Amsterdam outpost and German multi-brand boutique Wempe.
Panerai in Italy tried an even more experimental version of a mobile boutique back in 2018 – a boutique on the high seas. Eilean, a Scottish yacht made famous as the setting of the music video for Duran Duran’s 1982 single Rio, was restored by the brand and turned into a mobile boutique, which slowly made its way up the Italian coast, docking for short periods along the way.
Still, there’s something highly fitting about the thought of a limo pulling up at your house and a Rolex dealer coming inside to unfurl their watch roll on your coffee table. A Milgauss with your macarons, sir? A Domino’s Air-King delivered instead of Domino’s Pizza?
Glasgow isn’t the only city Rolex has opened a new boutique in lately, despite the continuing spectre of The Spicy Cough. Rolex recently opened a brand-spanking-new, three-storey-tall standalone boutique in the heart of Sydney – the largest Rolex boutique in the Southern Hemisphere.
Seeing as how Sydney’s likely to be in lockdown until the end of this year at this stage, maybe Rolex in Sydney might start looking into building up a limo fleet of their own.
That said, we’re not exactly champing at the bit to bring the Glasgow model to Australia. Remember, it was a limo driver in Sydney who (arguably) kicked off this latest lot of lockdowns. The last thing you’d want with your Cosmograph Daytona is a side serving of COVID-19 Delta…
Time will tell if Rolex decides to trial a similar service in other countries.