Why jostle with the hoi polloi when you could be enjoying a quiet drink while contemplating your latest purchase? Come Christmas shopping season, make sure you wind up at these London watch boutique bars, says Laura McCreddie-Doak.
I dream of having a club; a place where I can go not just where everybody knows my name but also my order and my aesthetic sensibilities. And maybe where I can also take the time to decide what the latest addition to my dresser might be.
That’s where the savvy customer is to be found these days – combining watch shopping with a swift one at one of London’s many boutiques with bars. It’s not surprising, given the ethos of the brand, that when Bremont decided to open its South Audley Street store back in 2012, a bar was a must. With its battered leather armchairs and shelves populated by books written by notable explorers, it was a space that demanded to be enjoyed while nursing a chinking tumbler of Chivas Regal.
The boutique has a real gentleman’s club feel about it,” says co-founder Giles English. “We want our customers to be able to come and relax with a glass of whisky or champagne at the bar while browsing the collection.”
Read more: Bremont celebrates magnificent men of 1934
However, it’s not just the single-name boutiques that are offering this service. Watches of Switzerland’s new Knightsbridge boutique has a very discreet, and well-stocked, bar from which you can smugly peer down at the SW3 traffic jams, while deciding whether to treat yourself to a Patek, a Panerai or an IWC.
Buying an expensive Swiss watch today is a considerable matter and it is important that our stores offer the comfort, service, and hospitality to our clients so that they can take as much time as they need,” says Brian Duffy, CEO of Aurum Holdings, which owns Watches of Switzerland. “The bar in our Knightsbridge store is great. We can offer clients today the privacy of our VIP salon, the comfort of the Patek Philippe salon, or the pleasure of a perfectly mixed cocktail.”
If Bond Street is more your horological playground then the place to refuel is Breitling’s pop-art boutique. There’s a quiet spot on the lower ground floor, which is ideal for quaffing a flute of Bollinger while deciding between a Navitimer or a Chronomat.
But if you’re giving up alcohol forNovember, or if caffeine is more your poison, then you need to head to every hipster’s favourite watchmaker, Anglo-Swedish brand Larsson & Jennings. At its Monmouth Street establishment, not only can you mix and match your own watch, you can also do so while enjoying some exceptional coffee at its Fika bar – named after the Scandinavian concept of breaking for a communal cup of coffee, often with a pastry. Larsson & Jennings collaborate with London roaster Alchemy to create its blends and recently it has launched Fika Friday to offer the full coffee-and-pastry experience.
All in all, a rather more appealing retail experience than entering your card details into an iPad at home with a chipped mug of tea, we think you’ll agree.