Boutiques have leapfrogged far beyond serving as mere transactional spaces. Brands have now realised the importance of offering multi-sensory and multi-media experiences that aren’t just geared towards closing a deal, but instead nudging customers to buy “into” the brand rather than just buy “from” it.
Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, who have been the Official Rolex Retailer in Dubai for the last six decades, have just inaugurated the world’s largest Rolex Boutique within the sprawling Fashion Avenue in Dubai Mall.
The three-storey boutique has an impressive 850 square metres of retail space. An opening of this magnitude attracted the legendary tennis player and Rolex ambassador Roger Federer who was present along with Rolex CEO Jean-Frederic Dufour. “This outstanding boutique offers a total Rolex experience. We are delighted to bring the history of the Rolex brand and its know-how together in this way in association with our long-time partner, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons,” said Dufour.
All the design elements of the interior and exterior borrow upon elements of Rolex timepieces. For example, the façade has a fluted design which is a nod to the fluted bezel that you will find on a majority of its watches.
Visitors entering the boutique on the ground floor will find watches stored behind glass shelves lined up against the wall and this space has a few sales counters and tables.
In the centre of the room is a large handcrafted chandelier manufactured by a Czech glass specialist. The chandelier is inspired by the cyclops, a bubble-like magnifying element found on the crystal of several Rolex watches that highlight the date feature on the dial.
The chandelier hangs from the top of the mezzanine floor down to the ground floor through the central atrium. Take the elevator to the mezzanine floor and you’ll find where the décor is decidedly more stylish with walls featuring a leather-trimming and gold-leaf detailing and imagery of diamonds and gold watch indexes and appliques. All of this hint at the purpose of the space – a floor dedicated to the viewing of the brand’s gem-set and precious-metal watches like the fabulous Rolex Rainbow Daytona in Everose Gold which was recently unveiled at Baselworld 2018.
Step back into the lift and make your way to the top storey and into a space that the brand refers to as the “Rolex Experience”. Designed more like an intimate lounge and living room with stone flooring, marble tables and dark wooden panelling, there are six television-sized screens showcasing Rolex short films that explore the heritage of its timepieces or throw more light upon its manufactures in Switzerland.
Nearby is a dedicated theatre-style screening room too, discreetly closed off by a single wood panel and the one that’s now showing a film called The Epic of the Oyster (Quick fact: Hans Wilsdorf invented the world’s first waterproof watch, the Rolex Oyster, in 1926).
Our favourite bit of this boutique has to be another brightly lit corner on this floor itself which is surrounded by a larger-than-life replica of a Rolex Oyster bracelet. Inside, we found an exhibition of the history and evolution of the Sea-Dweller. The exhibition here will be periodically updated.
Few watch retailers have had as prolific a journey as Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons who were the first official Rolex retailer in the Emirates when it set up shop in 1967 in Dubai. “We are honoured to partner with Rolex on this major endeavour that represents a landmark for our retail operation which, over half a century, has grown from a single shop in Souk Bur Dubai to more than 65 watch boutiques across the UAE, including five Rolex Boutiques and 12 points of sale in Dubai,” said Abdul Hamied Ahmed Seddiqi, Vice Chairman of Seddiqi Holding.
To anyone who pompously makes grandiose and hollow statements declaring brick-and-mortar retail is dead and obsolete, just point them in the direction of this boutique for a guaranteed mind-altering and perception-shifting experience.