An Interview with John Critchlow, Watch Manager at Prestons Wilmslow
21 September 20
John Critchlow, the Watch Manager at Prestons Wilmslow, explores here his experience with the finest watch houses in the world and the opening of showroom's new Rolex room.
Prestons have partnered with Rolex for over 30 years and it is a partnership which is based on the true passion that our showrooms and our dedicated sales consultants have for heritage and values of the brand as well as the aesthetics, design and performance of the iconic timepieces they craft. Here, John Critchlow, the Watch Manager at Prestons Wilmslow, explores the journey of his career, his experience working alongside the brand and the opening of the new Rolex room at Prestons’ flagship showroom.
You have been with Prestons almost six years, where did you begin your journey?
I was thrilled to join Prestons at the end of 2014 after spending just under a year working with watches and jewellery. My initial role was as a full-time Sales Consultant at our stand-alone Rolex Boutique in Leeds, Rolex by Prestons. After spending almost five years at the showroom, immersing myself in the culture of Rolex and Prestons and attending several of the fantastic Rolex and Tudor training programs, I was promoted to the role of Assistant Manager in November 2019. This coincided with our re-location to our exceptional new Rolex Boutique at Victoria Gate in Leeds which was an incredible privilege to be a part of.
Earlier this year, an opportunity arose at our flagship showroom in Wilmslow to join the team as the Watch Manager. It was an honour to be considered for the role and though it meant leaving Yorkshire, a place that I will forever be fond of, I was delighted to accept the challenge that Prestons Wilmslow offers. I am personally really looking forward to introducing myself to the showroom’s existing clients and sharing my experience and passion with them.
Is there a particular memory or time you first remember learning of Rolex? Do you have a favourite memory working alongside the brand?
My first memories of Rolex are quite similar to many people – it all began with my father and his GMT-Master with the iconic blue and red bezel. He purchased the watch in 1990 (the year before my birth) and wore it often to special occasions and on holiday. I was gifted the watch upon joining the industry in 2013 and have enjoyed wearing it in all manner of occasions – a testament to the long-lasting quality and the timeless design language of Rolex.
I have worked alongside Rolex since I joined Prestons in 2014 at our stand-alone Rolex Boutique in Leeds. In this particular showroom as we retailed Rolex and sister brand, Tudor, it offered me the chance to truly specialise in the product and I was able to develop my skills in a way that allowed me to offer the best Rolex experience along with our wonderful Prestons hospitality.
The highlight of my time working with Rolex has to be my once-in-a-lifetime trip to two of the Rolex facilities in Geneva last October. I was privileged enough to have a tour of the Plan-les-Ouates site, where the cases and bracelets are designed and manufactured and it is also home to the fabled foundry, where Rolex creates the 18ct gold alloys used in their watches, including the exclusive Everose Gold. The second part of the visit took us to the Acacias site which is the worldwide headquarters and also the place where the watches are assembled and tested using industry leading equipment, much of which is designed and manufactured in-house by Rolex themselves. My days in Geneva were certainly eye-opening and offered me a fresh perspective on ‘the Rolex Way’ further igniting my passion for the brand.
Is there a particular element of the Rolex experience that you think is particularly special for both yourself and your clients?
From the legendary history of innovation, iconic designs and ‘Superlative’ quality, there are so many elements to the brand that make any client’s experience with them so special. If I had to choose just one element, I would suggest, much like my father’s watch, the aesthetics of each individual collection is timeless. Every combination designed and created is meticulously thought through and considered to ensure the perfect pairing of functionality, design and style. Each wristwatch can therefore be passed or gifted from generation to generation with a knowledge that it will forever remain a classic timepiece.
The ability to pass a watch from generation to generation is further supported by the industry-leading, five-year Rolex International Guarantee and Superlative Chronometer rating offered by Rolex. This guarantee confirms that each watch has undergone extensive testing for chronometric precision, waterproofness and power reserve and I truly believe it is a testament to the craftsmanship behind these incredible wristwatches.
In recent months you have relocated to Prestons’ flagship showroom in Cheshire. What is different about this new chapter in your career with Prestons?
At Wilmslow, we are immensely fortunate to have been recognised as an Authorised Rolex Service Centre with the opening of our state-of-the-art workshop in October last year. The workshop, lead by our Head Watchmaker, Steve Tillston, comprises of the finest machinery and the best quality equipment to ensure that all service and repair work is completed to the high standard expected by our clients, by Rolex and that we expect of ourselves. This year, we are opening a brand new Rolex room, which has been designed by Rolex Geneva and expands the previous area considerably. This incredible space will allow our clients to browse a comprehensive selection of wristwatches in an immerse environment which includes two dedicated private viewing areas.
My new role at Prestons Wilmslow, although focuses primarily on watches, has also offered me the privilege to experience the exceptional fine jewellery collections, hand-chosen and designed by our vastly experienced jewellery specialists. It is an honour to learn and explore the creative nature of jewellery design, the beauty of a particularly rare coloured gemstone and also experience so many special moments in our clients lives, like their engagement or wedding.
The Rolex and Tudor collections include a number of incredibly iconic models. Is there a particular timepiece or selection of timepieces which you find inspiring?
This is a particularly challenging question! One of the most recent Rolex watches that caught my eye was the 18ct white gold GMT-Master II, reference 126719BLRO, with a meteorite dial. I am particularly enamoured with rare and unusual dials and each meteorite is entirely unique, featuring wonderful criss-crossing iron crystals. This, coupled with the iconic red and blue bezel in Rolex’s own hard-wearing Cerachrom material, make it, for me, the perfect blend of classic and contemporary.
I currently own two Tudor watches, that I have been lucky enough to have owned for several years now and if I were to add a third to the collection, it would have to be the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue. Based on Tudor’s legendary dive-watches from the 1970s manufactured for the French Navy, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight offers all the charm of a vintage watch but with the outstanding reliability and build-quality that Tudor are renowned for.
Each of the Prestons showrooms strive to offer The Prestons Experience. For you, what is it about each of the showrooms which makes your clients experience so memorable?
At Prestons, we understand for over 150 years our clients, many of who are now are friends, have visited us for the most special occasions in their lives. It could be a particular milestone, an anniversary, a proposal or a birthday and the service we offer forms part of the memory of the occasion itself.
Our beautiful showrooms offer the perfect environment to enjoy a coffee, or a glass of champagne, and allow our experienced sales consultants to guide you through the incredible selection of wristwatches and fine jewellery we showcase.
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Our Collections & Services
Our four showrooms in Guildford, Leeds and Wilmslow together showcase the world's finest watch houses in Rolex, Patek Philippe and TUDOR alongside exquisite fine jewellery and bespoke design services.
Over the years generations of families have become customers of Prestons and many have become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Surrey, Cheshire and Leeds.