A new headquarters and retail building is set to debut soon at Bethlehem Pike and Welsh Road in Lower Gwynedd Township.
The luxury retail architect and design firm AZA, led by Alex Zilberman, has been tapped to conceive this new, freestanding specialty center for the world’s best watches and timepieces. Clad in intricate Roman brickwork and limestone, the 9,000-square-foot new building for Precision Watches is currently under construction on a very prominent, wedge-shaped site at the tightly angular intersection.
Located in a desirable shopping area, the new headquarters and showrooms — to include mini-boutiques for world-leading watch brands the owner can name — represents a departure for the successful retailer and watchmaker, Precision Watches, founded in 1955. Formerly anchoring the nearby Willow Grove Mall, Precision Watches showcases prestigious, high-end brands with intricate movements. The company is led by Roman Murat, a third-generation watchmaker in the area.
“This new building embodies an important new phase for our organization, establishing our own presence and architectural identity reflecting our brand partners’ needs as well as our own legacy of expertise in luxury timepieces,” says Roman Murat, president of Precision Watches. “It has been a valuable process working with architect Alex Zilberman and his team, who understand how to foresee challenges in the luxury retail market, and, ultimately, translate brand identity into a memorable, magnetic architecture.”
Building upon the broad experience of Alexander Zilberman Architecture (AZA) in the luxury and ultra-luxury retail sectors, the new two-story commercial structure, with a large mezzanine level for offices, makes a strong statement as a watch enthusiast’s destination. The architecture presents large window openings chiseled from the classic masonry facades, with lintels and zipper-stone patterns recalling a watchband. Built with custom Roman brick masonry over a base of split-face limestone — recalling the area’s flagstone favored on Quaker cottages — all under a champagne-hued, standing-seam metal roof.
Inside, the welcoming interiors offer four large boutique showplaces for top brands as well as an open, airy showroom with comfortable furnishings and bright, well-appointed spaces for consultations and repairs. Bars and a café offer refreshments for customers, along with full facilities for those wishing to extend their time at the stores.
A destination celebrating the world of high-end horology, AZA’s interiors combine modern technology and time-tested finishes including marble, limestone, and artisan plaster with an experiential layout. A double-height atrium with a reception console of marble welcomes customers through to the gallery and circulation zone leading to product displays and cases for general sales, as well as four first-floor boutique pavilions for four renowned watchmakers. Enclosed in wood paneling, metal mesh or bronze, the pavilions are bespoke settings designed and fitted by those watchmakers to suit the brand expression of each high-end watch company. Accessed from the atrium’s floating staircase, an additional brand boutique and a multi-brand exhibition and sales area activate the second floor, welcoming more premier names in horology with more lounge seating areas set below a dramatic roofline and a faceted, sun-dappled ceiling.
“This is an exciting opportunity for AZA to bring our experience for such luxury retailers as Aston Martin, Jimmy Choo and Versace to a specialized store designed for true aficionados to experience the world’s best offerings in timepieces,” says Alexander Zilberman, AIA, NCARB, the founder and principal architect of Alexander Zilberman Architecture, P.C., also known as AZA.
The new Precision Watches headquarters, multi-retailer showroom and repairs shop is expected to open in March 2024. A digital walkthrough model of the headquarters project can be found here.