In Shanghai attending Belles Montres Shanghai, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to tour the recently inaugurated Rolex Experience, located right in the centre of Shanghai, on the Bund (27 Bund). The Rolex Experience is a combination of museum, educational presentation and interactive playground, all designed to educate the end consumer about what is considered the most widely-known brand in the world.
Rolex is aware of how well known they are, but they are also concerned that customers understand the key core values of the company, know a little bit of the history, appreciate the lengths to which the company goes to guarantee quality and have a sense of how innovative and cutting-edge the company is.
The space on the Bund, the most prized location in all of Shanghai, is very visible and incredibly well thought out. One side of the 8,000 square foot, ground floor area is dedicated to the Experience itself, while the other side is a combination showroom, lounge and selling area.
The Rolex Experience
The Experience is designed to take you from the Pulse of Rolex (a changeable exhibition area) right into its heart, leading you into a Rolex watch-like gallery space made up of interactive exhibits and historical presentations, all designed to educate and amaze you with the accomplishments of the Rolex brand.
You enter the Heart of Rolex through a door that is shaped like the winding crown of a Rolex watch. The presentation is broken up into five points of the famous Rolex crown, which are the five pillars of the company.
In this section, the history of Rolex and its incredible founder, Hans Wilsdorf, are presented in images, historical photographs and more.
Here, the ground-breaking Oyster case is detailed and examined.
This interactive presentation allows the visitor to learn about every watch, every innovation and key features in every Rolex timepiece.
A combination of museum exhibition and interactive playground, visitors can explore Rolex’s partnerships in tennis, exploring, skiing, motor racing and more.
The Rolex Institute
Here, visitors can explore Rolex’s philanthropic endeavours, including the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
After being given a private tour, I walked away from the experience with a much deeper appreciation of the Rolex company, and a huge fan of founder Hans Wilsdorf, who was certainly a watch industry visionary and an incredible marketer. As a watch journalist, I am certainly well aware of the power of the Rolex brand, and familiar with its products, but the depth of knowledge I received from this one hour walk through really was amazing. If I had had enough Chinese RMB in my pockets, I would have purchased a Rolex Daytona right then and there.
For a brand like Rolex, who has such great awareness all around the world, to invest in the Rolex Experience, a beautifully done presentation of the brand, is really remarkable. The brand has made this commitment to make sure the right message gets out about its history, its legacy of innovation and attention to quality, its milestones in product and marketing and its philanthropic activities around the world.
Every brand in the watch industry, and every retailer, can learn from the Rolex Experience about the need to educate the end customer directly, without the filter of the Internet, blogs and other intermediaries.
Visits to the Rolex Experience are by appointment only, and 400 people have been taken through it in the first month it has been open, but along with the Jade Buddha Temple, the Bund and the Peace Hotel, it is well worth a visit.
My thanks to the folks from Rolex in Shanghai, who made my private tour possible.
Source: Europa Star December - January 2012 Magazine Issue