Whatever a visitor’s level of expertise, and whether an immediate or distant purchase is what they have in mind, there are few more edifying locations to peruse fine timepieces than Harrods’ Fine Watches department (harrods.com).
And, we’re talking, here, about an experience that’s just received a steroidal boost: as part of a £200m, three-year revamp (the biggest in the store’s 170-year history), the department has undergone a complete overhaul, in collaboration with Rundell Associates (an architecture and design firm whose work includes Pharmacy with Damien Hirst in 1996 and the design of the White Cube Galleries in Hoxton and St James’s).
The new Fine Watches division will expand across two floors connected by a sweeping staircase, its walls carved from a single block of rare Cipollino Tirrenia marble and its bannisters inspired by leather watch straps, all lying beneath a vaulted ceiling. The leather-lined walls, created by London craftsman Bill Amberg, will juxtapose elegantly with a custom designed, mother of pearl terrazzo floor, all basking in the warm glow emanating from an ovular, domed lighting concept.
There will be five boutiques on each floor, occupied by brands including A.Lange & Sohne, Audemars Piguet, Hublot, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Roger Dubuis, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin, as well as a multi-brand area with specially designed counters for H. Moser & Cie, L. Kendall, Montblanc, Tag Heuer, Tudor, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith and Harrods Vintage by Foundwell.
The main aim of this revamp has been to create an environment more conducive to celebrating the art of haute horology. Hence, dedicated on-site watchmakers, a world first for a department store, will enhanced the focus on service and after-care, while the arrival of Buben & Zorweg – who specialise in safes, watch winders and interiors to showcase watches, jewellery and collectibles – will also appeal to the serious collector. The presence of Italian Riviera inspired restaurant Chucs, meanwhile, will add fine cuisine to an already enticing mix.
“The new space pays tribute to our exceptional watch portfolio and provides the perfect environment to showcase some of the world’s most sought after timepieces,” according to Helen David, Chief Merchant, Harrods.