Last week, Tudor opened its first boutique store in America in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan in the shadow of the High Line. I took the subway to Christopher Street in the West Village and took a leisurely stroll towards the newest store for watch lovers with hopes of purchasing the new Tudor Black Bay 58 in bronze, a watch that can only be purchased at a Tudor boutique. A boutique exclusive is the official term for this narrow opportunity to purchase a specific watch.
I guess I understand the marketing behind this: Play up exclusivity, create demand and generate worldwide interest in the boutiques. Hodinkee was able to photograph the watch via a visit to the Tudor boutique in Toronto.
First, I’m going to complain. The New York City boutique is not really a standalone store. It’s part of the Rolex boutique. There’s only one street entrance at the moment and it’s through Rolex. Again, I get this. Most of the tourists passing by were drawn in by the giant green Rolex sign on the prominent corner. I do think Tudor will swiftly become a very recognizable name given its association with Rolex.
When I entered I took a hard right past the bar to get to the Tudor area. After all, I knew that the Rolex cases would mostly consist of ladies’ Datejust models. Apparently a few Wimbledon Datejust models were available at the store’s opening, but predictably they were snatched up just as the store opened on its first day. The Black Bay 58 Bronze models were too. But I held out hope that there might be one “in the back” or that a shipment of them just arrived and they just needed to be unboxed.
The Tudor retail space is very nice visually. Well decorated and one could buy some of the top models like the Black Bay 58 (in small quantities) and the new Black Bay Chronographs were also in stock. The Royal line looked impressive in person and there was a Bronze 58 fit simulator where one could place his wrist underneath a display of the watch to get a sense of how it would fit.
I sidled up at the bar to wait for my turn with a store associate. It was a long wait. Lots of demand and my hope was to either be magically offered the chance to purchase the bronze 58 or at least put my name on the first to get the call on the restock list. I was able to fill out a little form in hopes of getting an actual call about the restock.
But the bartender and a gregarious gentleman who served as a doorman and all-around store helper shared fun stories about their experiences working there. The doorman told me had asked a high-ranking official from Tudor if there was a timeline for a new Black Bay GMT in a 58-sized case. The executive was reported to have given a non-committal, no clear timetable answer. We joked that even that answer meant that the a Black Bay GMT in a 58 case might actually be something in the works. But of course hearsay is just hearsay.
While waiting for my turn with a store associate I met a nice gentleman named Jake who curiously was not wearing a watch. I found out quickly he was actually here in hopes of purchasing a Black Bay 58 Navy for his first “real watch.” We chatted about what else he had considered—a Grand Seiko Snowflake, the Oris Aquis Date with their in-house movement, an Omega Globemaster—but I assured him that choosing a Black Bay 58 was a wise move at the price point he was considering. He told me he worked in public health so he needed a watch that would fly under the radar, so the matte Black Bay 58 Navy would be a really great choice.
The two of us were closing out the store with about 10 minutes until the 7 p.m. closing time. We were finally greeted by a friendly store associate named Hawk. Yes, Hawk. Hawk seemed either lost or tired from a long time at work, and couldn’t quite explain the situation behind getting a Black Bay 58 Bronze. Fortunately, Erick, Senior Sales Ambassador, stepped in and personally took my name down for the next alert for a restock. He did warn me that the demand for the watch was so high that he could not give me an estimate for when they might be available again.
But the day ended on an incredible note. Jake was dismayed that the store did not have the Black Bay 58 Navy on bracelet in the display case but all of us smiled when Erick showed him a single Black Bay 58 Navy on bracelet that was brought out from “the back.” Jake tried it on and made that final decision that it was going to be his first big watch purchase.
The watch hobby is all about being part of a larger community and I was so happy for Jake’s mission accomplished.
Tudor Boutique Tourneau: 29-35 9th Avenue, New York, NY