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NEW YORK — Omega is stepping out on the town.
This story first appeared in the April 6, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 161-year-old Swiss watch brand — part of Swatch Group’s Luxury and Prestige division that includes Glashutte, Blancpain and Breguet — has opened a 9,800-square-foot flagship at 711 Fifth Avenue. The boutique, neighboring the Escada and Disney stores, is the brand’s 51st freestanding boutique worldwide and its second in the U.S. after Beverly Hills, which opened in 2006.
“We started off with the concept 10 years ago based on our shop-in-shops,” Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega, said of the Zen-inspired store design, which incorporated elements evoking rain, water and air. “It’s design-oriented. It’s in keeping with the brand and what the consumers are looking for today.”
Urquhart said there are plans to open Omega boutiques across the U.S., with an eye on Nevada, Texas and Florida.
“At the moment, we want to master this enormous challenge on our hands,” Urquhart said of the economic malaise. “[This store] will boost our image and wholesale sales.”
He declined to discuss sales expectations for the Manhattan flagship.
The store features showcases made of oak, Champagne-colored glass with marble floors and silver details. The main floor houses a comprehensive selection of the brand’s key watch collections, including the De Ville, Constellation, Speedmaster and Seamaster. One of each watch in production will be available at the stores, including limited editions. The store also will have exclusives, such as the Platinum Apollo 11 limited edition watch that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and sells for $125,000.
“[This watch] is a particularly meaningful occasion for Omega because it was on the 21st of July that the Speedmaster became the first and only watch on the lunar surface,” Urquhart said. “Our Speedmasters were approved by NASA for all manned space flights in March of 1965 and have been on every mission ever since.”
The firm’s sweet spot is between $3,000 and $7,000 at retail.
The first floor also has private selling rooms and coffee bar. The second floor has the museum and jewelry collections, in addition to customer service and the watchmaker workroom. The store offers a loaner watch to customers who must leave their timepieces to be repaired.
“What really stands out in this [store] design is the watches,” Urquhart said. “Everybody knows the name, especially in the States. The brand has done a great job in the past few years and [now] we are getting back to watchmaking credibility.”