First Look at Rolex’s New US HQ Design by David Chipperfield


The US headquarters of Rolex has been in New York on the corner of 5th Avenue and 53rd Street since the 1970s. But it was not until 2012 that Rolex finally had a mono-brand boutique in the city. The 1,500-sq.-ft. boutique, run by Wempe, a retail partner of Rolex since the 1960s, ran the upscale shop with lavish fixtures in Italian leather, imported marble and bronze, complete with panelled walls and display cases. But that’s all about to change.

Recently, Rolex ran an international design competition to decide who would win the commission for its new US headquarters, it’s not common given that the brand has often used its Geneva-based architects but now it appears that British architect David Chipperfield will be responsible for the glass edifice that would be Rolex’s new New York headquarters.

“We are proud to have been selected to design the Rolex USA headquarters building. Our team is committed to creating an exemplary building befitting the heritage and culture of the Rolex brand, as well as its prominent 5th Avenue location.” – David Chipperfield, Founding Architect

The winning design is a 165,000-square-foot (14.4-square-metre) 25-storey tower that replaces the classy but comparatively nondescript charcoal office block with an eye-catching edifice comprised of cube upon cubes, stacked on each other, tapering towards the top like a glass Mayan pyramid to the biggest Swiss luxury watch brand in the world. That said, it’s not designed to be a monolith to luxury, green spaces via planted terraces on each layer has been catered for. The New York Rolex HQ will be home to its corporate office as well as rental space for tenants and it will also host its new Rolex boutique.


Designed for sustainability and eco-friendliness, Chipperfield’s new Rolex NY headquarters achieves LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Platinum standards,the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

“For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will.” – David Chipperfield Architects, a signatory of Architects Declare calling on all UK architects to adopt a “shift in behaviour” over climate change.

A harp seal pup called a whitecoat patiently waits for its mother to return in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Pups are born on the ice in late February and nursed for 12 to 15 days until their mother abandons them to mate and migrate. The pup, fattened with enriched milk, will wait for its mother until hunger or weak ice forces it into the sea to learn how to swim and eat. Natural mortality is high in normal conditions, and we have witnessed the loss of over 90 percent of pups when storms have demolished weak ice in warmer than normal temperatures. —David Doubilet

New Rolex NY HQ keeps the Planet Perpetual

No surprise for high environmental standards, Rolex has been increasing corporate social responsibility efforts in keeping our planet perpetual, incidentally, David Chipperfield Architects is among the  Stirling Prize winning architecture firms including Zaha Hadid Architects, and Foster + Partners who are among the initial group of 17 architecture firm signatories of  Architects Declare, a collective confronting climate change and biodiversity emergencies.

David Chipperfield Architects have tackled projects for private residences, corporate spaces and galleries and its last luxury retail commission was for Selfridges in central London. Creating the new entrance on the store’s eastern facade was no easy feat considering that the extension connects historic Selfridges departmental store on Oxford Street with other heritage buildings on Duke Street.

Like Rolex’s new New York HQ, Chipperfield used frames of floor to ceiling glass to create a luxuriously contemporary entrance while seamlessly blending into neighbouring buildings with Asiatic Greek iconic columns.

Selfridges in central London

Rolex in the UK

While we are on the subject of the English Isles, it’s come to our attention that reports indicate Rolex UK sales have risen by 12% to £367 million; this is more than double the value of sales just five years ago in 2014. Income rose even more sharply, with operating profit rising by 33% to £55.5 million. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the first two months of 2019 saw exports to the UK by all Swiss watchmakers up 40.9%.

The company paid £10.6 million in corporation tax, another record for the operation. In a note accompanying the 2018, the company strongly asserts that as part of its reputation management, it pays all UK taxes “without any planning that is artificial or contrived and designed to reduce UK tax”.

Socially responsible and not a supporter of tax dodging? Rolex is quite the exemplar corporate citizen in the modern business world.



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