What’s with Rolex - is it terminal?

Passed through Heathrow airport over the weekend (I don’t fly very often - thankfully) and, killing time, I took the opportunity to visit the two main watch shops in the terminal.

The first was a general retailer with small representative selections of watches from a very large number of different high-end brands. Nice to see such a wide cross section in one place but if they didn’t have what you were interested in they were keener to flog you anything they had than to understand why you wanted what they didn’t have. Fair enough, they are there to sell and likely on commission. 

They seemed reasonably knowledgeable about what they had but not really about the iconic vintage watches and heritage of each of the brands - again fair enough but probably not the best set up for enthusiasts. I’m guessing perhaps you can call ahead to prepare to see something specific.

Next stop Rolex - now I have had my fair share of dismal shopping experiences but this was right up there and pretty extreme. They probably had 45 display cushions located around the store but had less than 20 of these occupied, these were mainly down one side of the store so the rest of the store looked sad, forelorn and empty. 

They didn’t have any of the really interesting models and - unsurprisingly - the displays all had signs saying “All watches for display only and sales are subject to availability”. I did look closely through the cases at a few of the watches and they were grubby, smudgy and with very obvious fingerprints on them. The two assistants were sat in a corner having a chat and completely disinterested in any customers (a few others walked in and out while I was there and none of us got any acknowledgment). Given the time on their hands couldn’t they at least buff the watches so they gleam?

I’ve felt more of a buzz in funeral parlors! It was a pretty awful experience and nothing led me to believe I was engaging with a luxury brand or even tried to reinforce/draw you in to the “magic” of Rolex.

At first glance it seems a complete waste of retail space, rents and rates by Rolex (who obviously have deep enough pockets).

On reflection, I am guessing that what happens is that a few select customers pass through periodically in order to collect their new watches (duty free) at which point the staff are presumably suitably focused and attentive to shower these privileged few with “service”. But to everyone else and presumably for most of the time it really gives a very poor first impression of what is supposedly an amazing brand with luxury products.

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Which terminal was this? I’m flying out of Heathrow in the morning and I want to be ignored by sullen nobodies, too 😁

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From what I've read the Rolex factories are working flat out and making close to a million watches a year. Yet the showrooms are still devoid of stock. With Rolex buying Bucherer I can't see this changing any time soon. It must be the easiest job in retail to just add names to a "waiting list" but how long can it last?

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It isn’t Rolex’ deep pockets that fund this. It’ll be a local AD or chain that’s paying for the store and associates wages.

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English_archer

Which terminal was this? I’m flying out of Heathrow in the morning and I want to be ignored by sullen nobodies, too 😁

T5 - give it a go and see what you think. Weird.

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TimeOnMyHands

T5 - give it a go and see what you think. Weird.

Sadly (or not) I'm flying from T2. I'll have to find my own source of insouciance

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I’ve been to this Rolex outlet. I tried on a Sub there. Staff were clearly very bored but were nice enough. I think the fact I was already wearing a Rolex probably helped them pay more attention to me.

But very quickly it became clear the staff had zero interest or understanding in the watches. They’d memoriesed a spec sheet, yes, but had no understanding of what any of it meant.

I can forgive them their bordum, they’ve got very little to show and nothing to sell, but a little knowledge and passion for their product would go a long way.

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JamesTil6569

I’ve been to this Rolex outlet. I tried on a Sub there. Staff were clearly very bored but were nice enough. I think the fact I was already wearing a Rolex probably helped them pay more attention to me.

But very quickly it became clear the staff had zero interest or understanding in the watches. They’d memoriesed a spec sheet, yes, but had no understanding of what any of it meant.

I can forgive them their bordum, they’ve got very little to show and nothing to sell, but a little knowledge and passion for their product would go a long way.

Definitely no sub there now.

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TimeOnMyHands

T5 - give it a go and see what you think. Weird.

Been there, same experience 😅

I never understood the Rolex stores in air ports becuase they have no perfered clinents to sell to. I heard it’s just first one to ask if it’s in stock gets it in airports

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WatchandUnwindOffical

I never understood the Rolex stores in air ports becuase they have no perfered clinents to sell to. I heard it’s just first one to ask if it’s in stock gets it in airports

It’s certainly a bizarre business model as I took nothing positive away from my visit.

I have previously visited some high end stores that have been incredibly engaging and have left those feeling incredibly positive about their brands … and have subsequently bought gifts from those brands (and in some case the very same stores). Admittedly I have visited others and received positive receptions but determined that their stuff was not for me (whether to own or to gift).

I think that might be my first visit to a Rolex-only store and I won’t be heading back. I hope their bubble doesn’t burst as I’m not sure they know how to deal with customers.