Time to invest in a classic

Sandy Madhvani, manager of David M Robinson Canary Wharf, gives an expert guide to the experience of buying a Rolex

Watches & Jewellery 19 Dec 2019

Submariner 40mm Oystersteel, £5,750
Oyster Perpetual, £3,700
The Datejust 31 Oystersteel Envrose gold and diamonds, £11,650
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 is also available in 18ct white gold with an olive green dial, £28,850
The Rolex Lady-Datejust comes in various iterations, including the yellow gold Lady-Datejust 28, £18,100
The Lady-Datejust 28mm in Oystersteel and white gold, £7,300
41 in Oystersteel and Everose gold and Wimbledon dial, £9,600
Yacht Master 37 in Oystersteel and Everose gold, £9,950

David M Robinson (DMR) has come a long way since it was founded 50 years ago, but it remains a family business and that is the heart of everything we do, even in the middle of a vibrant, fast-paced business hub like Canary Wharf. We, of course, have all the expert knowledge you would expect – in the showroom alone, for example, between us we have more than 100 years of experience of selling Rolex. As well as knowing all about the products, a friendly personal approach is very important – we need to make everyone feel comfortable the minute they walk through the door. Our teams of experts are on hand to welcome you into the showroom.

David M Robinson Canary Wharf Showroom
David M Robinson Canary Wharf Showroom

When the young goldsmith David Robinson founded his first shop in 1969, it was a modest little workshop in Liverpool. After a career that saw him winning two De Beers Diamonds International Awards and making jewellery that was presented by the Queen at Ascot, David still runs the business along with his son John, our managing director. DMR employs more goldsmiths than any other retailer in the north of England and has showrooms in Liverpool, Manchester and Altrincham, as well as the London showroom that I manage. The business may have grown beyond recognition, but some things never change – our interaction with customers has always been key, and that is personal, no matter how big the business is.

At DMR, we feel a great affinity with Rolex. The passion and attention to detail that goes into every watch they make really is second to none. Rolex is obviously a big company, but because of the way it is run, you get this great sense of ownership that runs through everyone who works there. Everyone I have ever met at Rolex, from all different areas of the business, is just so focussed and proud to be members of the Rolex family. When we put a new Rolex on the wrist of a client, we share that sense of pride.

We train all of our staff thoroughly, but they do not start selling Rolex until they have been through Rolex’s own training programme at its UK service centre in Kings Hill, Kent. And training is not just a one-off, there are different levels and regular refresher courses – I have personally been selling Rolex for more than 30 years, but I still go on training courses to make sure I’m up to date with everything new.

The David M Robinson store in Canary Wharf always provides its customers with expert knowledge and a friendly welcome
The David M Robinson store in Canary Wharf always provides its customers with expert knowledge and a friendly welcome

While it is very important to know as much as possible about the products, it doesn’t work if we start downloading information before we know why a customer has come to see us. We are offering luxury goods, but a sale involves an interaction between two people. To find out what the customers want we have to get to know a little bit about them, we need to understand their lifestyle so that we can recommend the right products to them so they leave happy. Sometimes they come in with a specific watch in mind, or sometimes they will have spotted something in the window and come in to enquire. We offer everyone the same friendly welcome and it is up to them where it leads.

I have been running DMR in Canary Wharf since 2006, the year it opened, and this part of London has its own particular energy. Because we are in this is frenetic global business hub, the clients are often fast-moving and don’t have a lot of time on their hands. That means it is important to build a rapport quickly, and to help customers in the friendliest way without wasting their time.

I was born into the watch business – my father and uncle were both watchmakers and I started helping out in the workshop as a boy, was formally trained and became a watchmaker before going into retail management. I have customers who I have known for years who will only buy watches from me – they start off as clients and soon become friends.

As well as getting on well with our customers, it is very important that staff all work very well together. Although we are a serious, very well run business, the atmosphere is far more like a family. We don’t have a stiff, corporate structure, and we take any excuse we can to share birthday cake or go for a drink after work. Being sociable leads to everyone being happier at work, and this translates into how we get on with our customers.

Giving good service is easy if you genuinely care about the watches you are selling and the people who are coming in to buy them. These are not things that you buy one day and forget the next – you are not only choosing a watch, you are choosing your future family heirlooms.’

Sandy Madhvani is manager of David M Robinson at 4 Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf E14 5NY; davidmrobinson.co.uk


‘This is a professional timepiece that was built to deliver the greatest legibility and accuracy under the toughest conditions. But it is also a classic piece of design that people have really taken to their hearts. That’s why so many people want to get their hands on one.’

The Submariner came out in 1953 and was the first diving watch to be waterproof to 100 metres, setting a new benchmark for diving watches. The bezel of the new Submariner has a 60-minute insert made from Cerachrom. This material is virtually scratchproof and comes in black, blue or green – colours that are unaffected by ultraviolet rays so will not fade. The bezel has knurled edges meaning it can be manipulated even when wearing diving gloves. The triangular zero marker – telling a diver when it is time to return to the surface – is filled with a luminescent material that gives out a blue glow. The same material fills the hour markers and hands to give great legibility under all conditions. The Submariner’s Oyster bracelet is fitted with Rolex’s patented Oysterlock safety clasp that prevents accidental opening and also the Rolex Glidelock extension system that allows it to be worn over a diving suit. The Submariner is fitted with Rolex Manufacture Calibre 3130 self-winding movement, as well as Rolex’s anti-magnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and stop-seconds for exact time setting. It has a 40mm Oystersteel case, and is waterproof to 300 metres.

Submariner from £5,750


‘The Oyster Perpetual is a classic piece of design and a great first Rolex watch. It would make the perfect graduation present, something she can treasure as she begins the next phase of her life.’

The smallest and most accessible Rolex, the 26mm Oyster Perpetual is a timeless design and a perfect combination of elegance and simplicity and, like all Rolexes, is certified as Superlative Chronometer, meaning that it is accurate to within −2/+2 seconds per day. It is a beautiful watch and the history behind it is fascinating. This watch is a direct descendant of the first dustproof and waterproof watch created by Rolex back in 1926 and labelled “Oyster” for its ability to keep out the elements. The name ‘Perpetual’ goes back almost as far – in 1931 Rolex created the first self-winding mechanism, based on a principal of a spinning metal weight that winds the mainspring. That invention spread throughout the watch industry and the principle is still used to power all automatic watches to this day. The automatic-winding movement makes for great ease of ownership and the five-year international warranty gives great peace of mind. The Oyster Perpetual comes in a variety of dial colours from black or white to red grape or olive green. The case is made from Oystersteel – a durable form of 904L steel specially developed by Rolex. The Oyster Perpetual is waterproof to 100 metres and the fluted caseback is hermetically screwed down with a special tool exclusive to Rolex watchmakers.

Oyster Perpetual from £3,700.


‘While the Lady-Datejust is sized at 28mm, the main Rolex Datejust range starts with a 31mm diameter case, going up to 41mm.’

The Datejust goes back to 1945 when it was the first waterproof, self-winding chronometer wristwatch to have a date at 3 o’clock. The Datejust was a showcase for all the watchmaking breakthroughs that Rolex had made up until then, so it had the hermetically sealed Oyster case and the Perpetual movement and added the groundbreaking date function. The original watch didn’t have the magnifying Cyclops lens, which was added in 1953 and became a classic Rolex function still associated with the brand today.

The Jubilee bracelet, with its classic five-piece links, was developed for the Datejust the year it was launched. The Datejust 31 is also available with either an Oyster or President bracelet and is fitted with the Calibre 2236 self-winding mechanical movement, entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex with a Syloxi hairspring in silicon. The hairspring is insensitive to magnetic fields, is very stable under variations in temperature and is up to 10 times more resistant to shocks than a traditional hairspring. This is complemented by the use of high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, which increase the movement’s shock resistance by at least 50 per cent. Also featuring a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel, the movement has a power reserve of around 55 hours and is waterproof to 100 metres.

Datejust 31 from £4,800


‘This watch is an absolute classic. Even though it is called the Day-Date, it’s known as The President’s watch. That name says it all, and to me it really is the ultimate watch. This is definitely the Rolex that I am going to buy myself as a retirement present.’

Worn by Lyndon B Johnson and given to John F Kennedy as a gift from Marilyn Monroe, it’s clear how the Day-Date got its nickname. In Rolex literature, however, the only thing that gets called President is the bracelet. Made exclusively in either solid gold or platinum with a distinctive three semi-circular links, the President bracelet was made especially for the Day-Date at its launch in 1956. It is weighty and reassuring, but secure and comfortable, with ceramic inserts in the links for flexibility. Another characteristic feature of the bracelet is the Crownclasp – a hinged Rolex crown that is both a smooth way to unfasten the bracelet and also an aesthetic feature in its own right. It is available in a case size of either 36mm or 40mm, exclusively in 18ct gold or 950 platinum. The Calibre 3255 features the Chronergy escapement. Due to the enhanced barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3255 is a healthy 70 hours. It is waterproof to 100 metres, and has instantaneous day and date in apertures at 12 and 3 o’clock with secure rapid-setting via the crown and stop-seconds for exact time setting.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36mm from £26,500


‘Stepping up to the Lady-Datejust gives you an opportunity to opt for the beautiful hues of yellow, white or Everose gold, all beautifully prepared and machined in Rolex’s own manufacture.’

With a slightly larger case size than the Oyster Perpetual 26, the 28mm Lady-Datejust takes things up a couple of notches in other ways, too. It is fitted with a date function viewed through Rolex’s classic Cyclops window that magnifies the number to two and a half times its original size. The first version of this date chronometer for women, the Lady-Datejust first appeared in 1957 and comes in different combinations of Oystersteel and gold. Whatever material you choose, the self-winding manufacture movement inside is the same. That green Rolex seal that comes with every piece guarantees the quality – each movement has been officially COSCcertified as a chronometer and then the watch is tested a second time by Rolex to meet Rolex’s standards – much higher than those of the official chronometer testing body. Rolex does its own testing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex that checks the water-resistance and winding capacity. TheOyster case is crafted from a solid block of particularly corrosion-resistant Oystersteel, 18ct gold, or 950 platinum and is guaranteed to depth of 100 metres. The Lady-Datejust is available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterclasp or on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet – created specially for the Datejust in 1945 – with a Crownclasp; or on a three-piece link President bracelet with a Crownclasp. The Lady-Datejust’s Oyster bracelet also features the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by Rolex, which allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance. A concealed attachment system on the bracelet ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case. On the 18ct gold and 950 platinum versions, the Oyster and President bracelets include ceramic inserts inside the links to enhance their flexibility and longevity. The Lady-Datejust is fitted with a 4Hz Rolex Manufacture Calibre 2236 movement with a Syloxi silicon hairspring and a power reserve of 55 hours. It also has instantaneous date at 3 o’clock with secure rapid-setting stop-seconds for exact time setting.

Lady-Datejust 28 from £4,850


‘This watch shows how much variety you can have within one model – this larger Datejust with the Wimbledon dial is a hit with tennis fans. Rolex is paying tribute to another Swiss legend, Roger Federer, who made Wimbledon his home during all all-conquering career.’

Rolex’s association with sport goes back almost a century. In 1927, young British swimmer Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel while wearing a Rolex Oyster. Rolex published a full-page advertisement in The Daily Mail calling it ‘the greatest achievement in watchmaking’. This was just the beginning. In 1935, after Sir Malcolm Campbell drove Bluebird to a new land speed record of more than 300 miles per hour, he wrote Rolex an understated note that read: ‘I have now been using my Rolex watch for a while, and it is keeping perfect time under somewhat strenuous conditions’. Rolex now has long-standing sponsorships with Formula 1, equestrianism, yachting and golf. Perhaps best-known is Rolex’s association with tennis. Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper of Wimbledon for more than 40 years. Roger Federer is a long-time Rolex Testimonee and throughout his incredible career Wimbledon that has seen the biggest moments – in the summer of 2009, Federer beat Andy Roddick in an epic five-set Wimbledon final to win his 15th Grand Slam, surpassing a Pete Sampras record many thought would never be beaten.

Datejust 41 from £5,650


‘The Yacht-Master is an elegant and functional sporting choice that looks great whether you wear it at sea or in the boardroom.’

Rolex has an association with sailing that goes back to the 1960s when it began sponsoring New York Yacht Club races. Since then it has formed associations with some of the world’s best-known yacht clubs and regattas, from SailGP to the Rolex Fastnet race. The Yacht-Master was launched in 1992, designed specifically for sailors. It is recognisable by its distinctive 60-minute bezel with raised numbers. The bezel comes in 18ct gold, 950 platinum or Rolex’s scratch- and corrosion-resistant Cerachrom ceramic. The Yacht-Master is available with case sizes of 37, 40 or 42mm, all with date window and Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock, and all are waterproof to 100 metres. There is the option of an Oysterflex bracelet – Rolex’s sporty choice that often finds favour with sailors. It is over-moulded with high-performance black synthetic polymer that was developed by Rolex to be resistant to the elements – perfect for someone who chooses to spend their life being sprayed with sea water. There is also the more traditional option of a three-link Oyster bracelet. The watch is fitted with Rolex Calibre 3235 with the anti-magnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The oscillator is fitted on high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers to increase shock resistance, and has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

Yacht-Master from £9,950