Today, we’re winding down our Retailer Spotlight series by looking at a great authorized dealer out of New Jersey. Businesses are finding inventive ways to make up for lost time and lost revenue thanks to the pandemic, and Bernie Robbins Jewelers out of Somers Point, New Jersey, is among them. Their story is one of persistence. For eight years, Harvey Rovinsky wrote to Rolex asking to become an authorized dealer. And one day, they answered.
Now, a lot of watch enthusiasts in the South Jersey area are very happy they did.
Everyone has a creation story. What’s yours?
I had a genetic predisposition to both watches and jewelry. When I was 10 years old, I started working for my father, a watchmaker, running errands. My grandfather had also been a jeweler in Europe. That makes me a third-generation disciple of jewelry and watches.
Bernie Robbins Jewelers was started in 1962 by my in-laws, Bernie and Lorraine Robbins. Bernie’s prior experience was in major and small appliances. They started their business in a tiny alleyway in Center City Philadelphia. When I joined the company in 1966, the only hint of jewelry they were selling was a counter of Timex watches they got from their small appliance distributor. We also were one of the first stores to carry Seiko. In 1969, we eventually moved to a more prominent location at 17th and Sansom, about 11 blocks from Jewelers Row. We slowly moved toward selling more watches and jewelry. In the early ’70s, we became a catalog showroom and started selling Accutron, Movado, and Citizen watches. Fast forward to 1984, and we bought a jewelry store out of bankruptcy in Somers Point, New Jersey. We had accomplished a lot, but wanted much more. From 1984 to 1992, I wrote letters to Rolex, wanting to become an official Rolex jeweler. In 1992, our business had a dramatic shift when that request was granted. Over the years, we have sold virtually every watch brand, with few exceptions.
How has Bernie Robbins been supporting the watch community?
Over the years, we have become Ph.D.s in the passion that comes with watch collecting. We know our job doesn’t only include finding the right timepiece for the right consumer. Many of our presentations involve a lot of telling the story behind the brand – show and tell isn’t only an exercise for kids. We enjoy the excitement that comes with trying on timepieces, and we are always up for discussion with our enthusiasts. Whether it’s the start of a brand-new collection, or filling that annoying extra slot in the multi winder storage chest, we enjoy and celebrate the process. We truly believe our job is to either ignite a new flame or to continue that fire burning.
What watches do you carry that folks should be paying attention to right now?
There are a couple of brands that deserve attention right now. Without question, Rolex is a force. The demand always exceeds the supply worldwide. We have had calls from American Express Concierge Services asking to help source watches for clients. This is true of professional models as well as classic Oyster Perpetual models. It’s absolutely incredible.
Tudor is a brand that has captured the attention of both new and established collectors. We regard it as a solid, luxurious brand, which supports sport, style, and status. The search for a Tudor watch has brought many new clients to our stores and allowed us to start new relationships.
Carl F. Bucherer isn’t a rookie in the watch world, but look out: it’s catching the attention of collectors as a brand to watch. While looking for something to diversify their collection, our clients are excited with the Carl F. Bucherer timepieces. We have our eye on Carl F. Bucherer and expect it to capture increased recognition in the not-so-distant future.
What do you specialize in?
We specialize in service, moments, memories, and experience. Without a doubt, our interactions with our clients are what we thrive on. Our team is passionate and excited about what we do. We are constantly working on ways to elevate our client experience and exceed expectations. Our clients love to come in, sip some McCallan or Bernie Bubbly, try on watches and jewelry, and experience genuine interest and enthusiasm. We celebrate each purchase and never lose sight of what the experience means to the person on the other side of the counter. The referrals we receive from our clients let us know we are doing something right.
How can customers and those interested in purchasing a watch connect with you?
We are always available through our website. Our instant chat feature is a terrific tool to get a qualified associate to answer in a shockingly quick amount of time. We’ve been known to answer inquiries at ten o’clock at night or six o’clock in the morning. For a more personalized and “old-fashioned” experience, we do take calls at all our locations. Associates are available and receptive to answering questions and discussing inventory availability. Most recently, and as a sign of the times, we have introduced an option for a virtual appointment on our website. It can serve as a phenomenal introduction to an item and cut down on the time needed to spend in the store. Of course, our favorite way for you to connect with us is to walk through our front doors. We look forward to welcoming you!
Locations in: Somers Point, Marlton, Newtown, Villanova, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City