Rolex Unveils 6-Storey Watch Mecca in Melbourne
After an extensive period of redevelopment and planning, seminal Swiss watchmaker, Rolex has inaugurated a massive new headquarters in Melbourne. Located at the iconic ‘Centenary Hall’ building at 104 Exhibition Street, the soaring six-storey structure is set to serve as the maison’s new Oceania base, but in true Rolex style, it’s far from your stock-standard office building. A stunning ode to art deco design, Centenary Hall pays homage to the golden era of modern architecture, with subtle nods to the iconic Rolex brand story. Just don’t ask them when new stock is coming in.
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For fans of Rolex, the new inauguration has been a long time coming, with passers-by eagerly anticipating the removal of the construction shield. On Tuesday, the shackles were finally discarded to reveal the new design, which features restored elements of the hall’s original 1935 art deco facade and interior. Conceptualised by architecture firm Woods Bagot, best known for the timber-laden Sculptform Design Studio, the fit-out revives much of Centenary Hall’s former grandeur.
According to Rolex, details such as the decorative ceiling and terrazzo foyer flooring, complete with the original Orange Order Star have been restored. However, in a rare blend of old and new, the designers were also tasked with bringing Rolex’s 21st-century vision to life. The new Oceania headquarters features two floors of custom watchmaking facilities, alongside a new watchmaking training program, which the maison describes as an ‘Australian-first’.
“Rolex has restored and reinvigorated this important historic building, preserving it for the future,” Woods Bagot architect Peter Miglis said. “It’s a wonderful gift back to the city of Melbourne and it demonstrates Rolex’s unceasing quest for excellence, and their focus on precision and quality.”
Originally designed by architects Hugh Philp and H. Geoffrey Bottoms as a ‘modernistic’ structure, Centenary Hall has changed hands many times over the past 90 years. After moving from the Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria to the American Red Cross Service, the building was then transformed into a state government headquarters before landing in the lap of a watchmaking icon.
Rolex Australia managing director Benoit Falletti described the inauguration of Centenary Hall as a “new era for the brand in Australia”, which coincides with the strong expansion of Rolex in the region.
“It brings together, for the first time, administrative staff, and watchmakers under one roof,” Falletti explained. “The purpose-built environment reflects our commitment to the principles of architecture and design, and respects the history of this culturally important building, positioning our Ocean headquarters alongside other architecturally significant Rolex buildings worldwide.”
The new Rolex Oceania headquarters at Centenary Hall is located at 104 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. It will also be incorporated into the Rolex exhibition at the 2023 La Biennale di Venezia, an international architecture exhibition that the watchmaker supports, from 20 May in Venice.
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