By  on June 30, 2011

NEW YORK — Tourneau, the 111-year-old timepiece specialty retailer, will open the doors on a new concept store here today.

The 3,135-square-foot unit at 510 Madison Avenue is equipped with a well-staffed service center and adjoining Rolex boutique — the brand’s third freestanding retail outlet in the U.S. and first in New York. Tourneau commissioned the architects of Eight Inc. — the same firm that worked with Steve Jobs on the first 300 Apple stores — to bring its retail vision to fruition.

In addition to a selection of curated watches from more than 30 brands — includingBaume & Mercier, Blancpain, Cartier, Chanel, Franck Muller, Harry Winston, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoulture and Vacheron Constantin — the store differs from Tourneau’s other 38 locations in that its business model is built around the concept of “counterless selling.” This means that the counters are accessible from both sides so sales professionals can stand alongside the customer while showing them watches. At the end of each brushed nickel display case is a seating area — consisting of glove leather-topped “watch tables” with matching chairs — to continue the conversation between salesperson and shopper.

“As a company we are looking to modernize the process of watch-buying, by using new technologies and ways of engagement to shape the customer’s experience,” said chief executive officer Jim Seuss.

The store design also includes an LCD video tower and a series of videos that digitally display the date and time or information that can either be brand or trend driven. There’s a discovery wall adjacent to the video screens that also has the option of showcasing a specific brand or trend, as well as eight vignettes that border the store and serve as a platform for brands to tell their story through video and product.

A row of vertical walnut wooden shutters welcomes shoppers to the mostly clear glass storefront, managing to divide the front windows without closing anything off, and LED lighting in varying intensities was installed that allow consumers to view a watch under different types of light.

“It’s a clean, modern and a new look to luxury retail and the product is still hero,” said Eight Inc.’s principal Wilhelm Oehl. “It’s a new way of interacting. There’s no longer a person behind the counter, you’re side by side. Every element has been designed to make the experience of selecting a watch easy.”

Tourneau has closed the store it previously had on Madison Avenue at 52nd Street, although its flagship on 57th Street remains.

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