Photography by © Rolex/Cédric Widmer
03 May 2023
Rolex has moved into new headquarters at Centenary Hall, at 104 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, following the refurbishment and restoration of original features of the hall’s 1935 Art Deco façade and interior.
Historically significant details such as the terrazzo foyer flooring with its original Orange Order star and the decorative ballroom ceiling have been revived to their original grandeur.
The state-of-the-art fit-out was designed by Rolex in collaboration with award-winning architecture firm Woods Bagot. The building houses two floors of custom watchmaking facilities and incorporates a new watchmaking training program, the first of its kind in Australia.
Centenary Hall echoes the company’s ongoing pursuit of continuous innovation, technological advancements, precision and the best use of form and space.
Rolex Australia Managing Director Benoit Falletti says, “The inauguration of Centenary Hall heralds 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.
“The purpose-built environment reflects our commitment to the principals of architecture and design, and respects the history of this culturally important building, positioning our Oceania headquarters alongside other architecturally significant Rolex buildings worldwide.”
Both visionary architects and watchmakers blend aesthetics and functionality in their creations. Like the movement of an Oyster timepiece, a building adheres to a precise set of codes and a clear message that is expressed through design and functionality.
The deep connection between Rolex and architecture includes its support of the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Rolex’s newly developed Oceania headquarters will be incorporated into the Rolex exhibition at the 2023 Biennale, an exciting milestone for the local affiliate.
Architect Peter Miglis of Woods Bagot says “Rolex has restored and reinvigorated this important historic building, preserving it for the future. 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.”
The land at 104–110 Exhibition Street was purchased in 1846 by the Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria, an Irish Protestant Society branch.
Following several incarnations, the current building’s design is the result of a competition won by Architects Hugh Philp and H Geoffrey Bottoms in 1933.
Their design for a modernistic steel-framed 132-foot tall building exhibited extreme simplicity and used modernistic treatment of the facades.
The opening ceremony took place on 15 April 1935, ahead of the official Melbourne Centenary celebrations in September 1935.
The American Red Cross Service took over the building during World War II and created a Club for American and Allied Soldiers. After the War, it was leased by the Victorian State Government who then purchased the building in 1961.
It was sold at auction in August 1976 to Vapold Pty Ltd and became the headquarters of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party. Centenary Hall was purchased by Rolex in November 2018.
Every element of the interior design features the elegant Rolex aesthetic and radiates the values of the Rolex crown. Excellence, precision, and attention to detail emanate from the careful calibration of colours and patterns in the fittings and furnishings.
A striking green Aqua wall in the After Sales Department highlights Rolex’s rich heritage – its wave motif referencing the iconic Oyster, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. The walls mix textures such as green marble, walnut brown wood, beige-coloured stone and a hand-crafted stucco panel with a bespoke design that reflects the Melbourne city skyline.
Rolex is an integrated and independent Swiss watch manufacturer. Headquartered in Geneva, the brand is recognised the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products – symbols of excellence, elegance, and prestige.
The movements of its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches are certified by COSC, then tested in-house for their precision, performance, and reliability. The Superlative Chronometer certification, symbolized by the green seal, confirms that each watch has successfully undergone tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria. These are periodically validated by an independent external organization.
The word Perpetual is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values.
Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. In the course of its history, Rolex has registered over 500 patents.
At its four sites in Switzerland, the brand designs, develops and produces many of its watch components, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial, and bracelet. Furthermore, the brand is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport, and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.