THE WORLD continued to tick on for wearers of Rolex as guests flooded into the Rolex boutique at the Podium in the Ortigas Center a few days before the announcement of the community quarantine spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new boutique is the first of its kind.

There were very few, if any, handshakes, and some people exchanged bows or fistbumps instead. One lady was straightforward and said to another, “Oh, I can’t kiss you.”

The store is special in that it is the first Rolex store following a new concept by the Swiss watch company. The company, first founded in England, moved to Switzerland in the early 20th century for tax reasons. The brand went on to become one the largest producers of Swiss-made certified chronometers, with over 400 patents in its name. The brand is well-known for its Submariner, Daytona, and Datejust pieces, and some of the world’s most expensive watches sold at auction carry the Rolex brand. It has been in the country for 38 years, according to a speech by distributor Lucerne’s Managing Director, Emerson Yao. “The store behind me is the latest concept of Rolex being implemented globally.”

The brand’s familiar green colors were all over the 113 sqm. store, from the pedestals on the display cases to a high green glass wall. Mr. Yao did point out to BusinessWorld how the chandelier resembled a watch’s crown. Being the first distributor to enjoy the new concept by Rolex, we asked Mr. Yao why the country was extended such a privilege: “A lot has to do with timing. Maybe the concept was fresh out of the company, and we were the next to be renovated. But of course, I’d also like to believe that because we have this beautiful facade and high ceiling, they can implement it in this place.”

A guest at the opening was the Ambassador of Switzerland, Alain Gaschen. “Since these are times of worry and concern, maybe I will start by sharing some good news about the Swiss business community in the Philippines. At the embassy, we justy launched a survey and we found out that two-thirds of the Swiss companies are willing to invest and to expand their presence in the Philippines.

“That was before the coronavirus.

“This morning, we presented the results of the survey to the business communities. The good news again is that the outlook and the climate remains very positive,” he said. “There is good reason for optimism.” — Joseph L. Garcia