The Watches of Switzerland Group has a history which can be traced back to 1775. Over two centuries later, we are now recognised as the leading luxury watch specialist in the UK with a significant and growing presence in the US.
The Mappin & Webb brand story began in 1775, when Jonathan Mappin opened a silver workshop in Sheffield with a vision to create the most beautifully crafted silverware. It would see the brand expand internationally, receive royal warrants and commissions from Monarchs around the world, and become synonymous with excellence, craftsmanship and all things truly greatly British.
3 years later in 1778, the Goldsmiths brand story began with the first store located in Blackett Street, Newcastle, trading as Reids & Sons. The store is still there to this very day and continues to serve generations of loyal clients.
Mappin & Webb is privileged to have a relationship with the Monarchy and this was formalised when Her Majesty Queen Victoria first granted a Royal Warrant to Mappin & Webb as silversmiths, in 1897, the year of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. Mappin & Webb has held a Royal Warrant as Silversmiths to each of the five subsequent sovereigns and today the brand holds a Royal Warrant as Jewellers, Goldsmiths and Silversmiths to Her Majesty The Queen and as Silversmiths to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
In 1898 Mappin & Webb's acclaimed Campaign watch was supplied to troops at the battle of Omdurman. Advertised as Mappin's famed luminous Campaign watch, the watch was used in great numbers in a desert experience that was the severest test a watch could have. The battle of Omdurman in 1898, in which a young Winston Churchill participated, marked a turning point in the Mahdist War and proved the practicality of Mappin's Campaign watch, which was back in service very soon.
In 1910, the Mayors brand story began when the brand was founded by Irving Mayor Getz in Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1937, he had opened the first Mayors showroom in the heart of downtown Miami’s business district. This was the start of Mayors reputation as one of the nation’s finest watch and jewellery retailers - a provider of outstanding client service.
In 1919 our partnership with Rolex began when Northern Goldsmiths, situated on the corner of Pilgrim Street and Blackett Street in Newcastle, was appointed a stockist of Rolex watches.
Watches of Switzerland story begins in 1924 with a gentleman named Maurice Lane, who forms a company selling watches by mail order. G&M Lane & Co as Watches of Switzerland was originally known, opens its first office at 26 Ludgate Hill, in the City of London.
By the 1960s, Watches of Switzerland builds a reputation for selling the finest Swiss watches and offering an unrivalled standard of service. As a result of this, leading luxury Swiss watch brands began advertising its collaboration with Watches of Switzerland, the beginning of our strong brand partnerships.
In the 1970s we opened, what we believe to be, the first Rolex mono-boutique in the world on Bond Street, London. Today we have seven dedicated Rolex mono-boutiques across the UK and US.
Mappin & Webbs' longstanding royal connection is further cemented by the appointment of its master craftsman in 2012, to the position of Crown Jeweller. The Crown Jeweller is the custodian of the Crown Jewels and is responsible for preparing them for the State opening of Parliament and other state occasions. The appointment of Mappin & Webb's craftsman to the role of Crown Jeweller is a great honour for the brand.
2014 Brian Duffy is appointed CEO and the business starts its transformation with significant investment in merchandising, stores, systems, people and marketing.
In the 90th year of Watches of Switzerland, the “Golden Triangle” is launched with the opening of a flagship showroom at 155 Regent Street, Europe’s largest showroom devoted to luxury watches – a feat of both staggering design and horological excellence – followed by the launch of a store on Oxford Street in October 2015 and Knightsbridge in June 2016.
In 2017, the Group acquires Mayors Jewellers, which by now has 17 stores across Florida and Georgia, 15 with Rolex agencies.
In the same year, Watches of Switzerland goes international as we became the new owners of two stunning boutiques at the world-famous Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. This includes a standalone Rolex Boutique and the first-ever Watches of Switzerland multi-brand showroom in the US.
In September 2018, Aurum Holdings, as the business has been known, announces it will change its name to the Watches of Switzerland Group.
Having been through a significant transformation over the last 4 years, the new name is reflective of the business and more relevant to both the consumer and the investor community.
In 2018 we opened our first Watches of Switzerland store on Greene Street in Soho, New York, NYC, followed by a second flagship store in in the ground-breaking Hudson Yards in Manhattan, New York in March 2019. In June 2019 a further Watches of Switzerland showroom was opened in the Encore Boston Harbour Hotel.
In 2019 the group celebrated 100 years in partnership with luxury watch brand Rolex after we became a stockist in 1919, in our Northern Goldsmiths store. As part of the centenary year, we partnered with Rolex to provide 100 watches, each with a commemorative engraving to mark the anniversary, raising £300k to support The Prince’s Trust, a charity working with young people aged 11 to 30 across the UK.
The Group’s 5 year transformation programme culminated in a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange during June 2019.
2019 also saw the opening of the first mono-boutique in partnership with Audemars Piguet in Mayors, Lenox Square, Atlanta, Georgia.
On the 1st May 2019, we reopened Mayors Miami International Mall store with a new refreshed look as part of the 360-brand relaunch which we first embarked upon in October 2018. The refurbishment marks the beginning of a major investment strategy to elevate the retail experience throughout the Mayors portfolio of stores.
In 2019 we were delighted to announce the opening of a new national Service Centre in Manchester, cementing our position as the leading retailer in the UK for luxury watch services.
The Group already has more accredited watchmakers than any other UK retailer, and is proud to be a brand-accredited agent of luxury Swiss horology houses including Rolex, OMEGA, Breitling and Cartier.
In 2020, the Group faced its biggest challenge as the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst prioritising the health and safety of colleagues, we were proud of the results that we were able to deliver despite stores being closed for much of the year in the UK and significant disruption in the US. Our teams focused on their learning and we continued to adapt and innovate, launching new initiatives including the Luxury Watch and Jewellery Virtual Boutique and the "By Personal Appointment" booking system. We also opened our first Rolex mono-boutique in Scotland and several mono-brand boutiques in the US. We were also proud to open a new Watches of Switzerland store in Broadgate, London.
Despite the continuing global pandemic, we continued to open new mono-brand boutiques, including the first Breitling mono-brand boutique in Scotland. This year we have also been delighted to announce the launch of The Watches of Switzerland Group Foundation with an initial committed donation of £1.5m and a further £1.5m planned for FY22.