Watching the truck with the steel structure for the new staircase drive up and the crane hoist it through the gaping chasm of the construction site into the store interior, Stefan Rohrer was a little tense. And that even though as head of project management at Obrist interior AG, he manages countless prestige remodelling projects around the world, including for Rolex. But the construction of this staircase for the new Rolex realm at Beyer was pretty extraordinary, he says.
“We took measurements in the old store – outside business hours, between seven in the evening and three in the morning,” Rohrer explains. The next step was to create axes on the computer, plan the joints and, based on exploratory probes of the old building fabric, calculate the mounting brackets for the staircase and the elements for the raw construction. Despite all the precision and confidence in the complex computer programs: it was also a relief for Rohrer that the stairs ultimately fitted down to the last millimetre.
Then three other companies set to work: the metal workers, the moulded-wood craftsmen and the specialists for surface finishing. The steel beams were filled and wrapped with wood like sandwich. Right down to the treads of each step, every detail was transformed into the shapes and colours specified by Rolex. And finally, the wooden handrail was added. “Even if the man on the street can’t see it: this staircase is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship,” says Rohrer happily. “Without the absolute trust in our partners, such a project would not have been possible.”
A motor for the display window
After all, the refurbishment took place in the middle of the corona crisis. It was scarcely possible to hold meetings; it took complicated detours to bring the processes to completion. In some cases the contact to suppliers abroad dried up, and production was temporarily stopped because of corona. Thus Stefan Rohrer and his team had to have the Travertino stone for the wall cladding newly developed in Switzerland – in exactly the right shade. And the online company to whom a deposit had been paid for the Tom Dixon vases, suddenly seemed to vanish into thin air (in September the vases were delivered after all).
“The biggest challenge,” says Stefan Rohrer, “was to reconcile all the different needs: the design requirements of Rolex, the ideas of Beyer, the security measures – and all this in an old building that sometimes placed unexpected limits on us.”
The floor load capacity, for example, proved insufficient for the Rolex window display fittings that weighed 1.3 tonnes. A new floor structure had to be constructed within two days. Rohrer had a mechanical engineer develop a motor-driven device for the window display fittings: the fittings can now be elegantly moved at the touch of a button, to give staff access to the watches. It is fitted with light sensors to prevent anyone from getting their fingers pinched or even being crushed.
Phone charging points in the sofa
In the gallery, our new Rolex Corner, there is likewise a lot of technology, maximum security and an innovation or two concealed discreetly behind the walls, in the floor and in the furniture. Take the stylish phone charging stations made of abrasion-resistant acrylic stone, for instance, discreetly incorporated into the sofa combination. “Ideas like this came about in detailed discussions with the Rolex design team, the overall site management, the sales management, the security officers and with Mr Beyer,” says Stefan Rohrer.
“The trust placed in us and the client’s enthusiasm spurred us on to implement the highest standards in this tight time frame.”
The planning and development of the new Rolex Corner alone took 2700 working hours, not including the installation. Over 30 suppliers were involved, including leather processors, plasterers, stonemasons and security specialists. The Rolex Corner incorporates cutting-edge technology and the highest safety standards. Even the otherwise entirely modest Stefan Rohrer shows a little bit of pride when he says: “Besides the beautiful Rolex design, the great artistry of this construction is what you don’t see.”
Text: Matthias Mächler
Pictures: Martina Meier