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Yesterday at about 3:10pm, the Rolex store on Michigan Ave opened its doors. The store design takes cues from the Oyster Perpetual watch and is conservatively bear resemblance to aquatic nature. Textures in the walls look like rippled sand and each aqua or sea-green lucite block designating a collection also has a rippled effect and a frosted look. The walls that aren't branded with the Rolex logo or textured like rippled sand are a light brown leather.
Collections include the standard steel Air King that starts at $4,750 and work their way up through the most popular in the Midwestern market, the Daytona Chronograph collection with three dials that range $10,000 - $30,000. As of right now, the mean price for a watch in this Michigan Avenue store is in the high thirties and forty thousands for rose gold and platinum styles. The sales staff expects to receive a $500,000 watch that is studded with diamonds and tells us they hope Derek Rose from the Bulls comes in to buy it.
Throughout the construction of the boutique, when Van Cleef and Arpels had left, we saw this was a Rolex shop. All the while the paper in the windows said Rolex, the papers said Tourneau. This begs the question - is this a Tourneau store bearding as Rolex for prime Michigan Ave space?
Tourneau has 37 boutique locations and is one of America's largest retailers for luxury watches but most likely does not have the name recognition that Michigan Avenue shoppers immediately recognize and identify with. Perhaps Tourneau thinks that Midwesterners don't want to see their name on an awning at street level? Rather Tourneau has a location on the third floor in Water Tower Place and we're told they have no plans to move. As we understand the situation, back when the owner of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf died, his wife made Rolex a legit legal foundation so the company cannot be traded publicly or ever be sold. This Rolex store is operated by a subsidiary of an independently licenced group of Tourneau. So when you're buying a watch from this particular store you're actually spending your money at Tourneau.
· Rolex [Official Site]
· Tourneau [Official Site]
UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that Water Tower Place strictly enforces certain forms of radius clauses. Most stores in WTP have radius clauses of 2-5 miles included in their lease. We believe the Tourneau store in WTP has a form of this clause in their lease, therefore by opening a store on the same street less than a mile away under the Rolex name has bypassed the clause.