During an era in which career changes per person averages out at a half dozen or so, it is remarkable to meet someone who has been with the same company, in the same city and country, for 50 years and counting. It is perhaps even more remarkable in the world of luxury goods, where executives switch companies and locations frequently, plying their skills in fine wine one day and high-end automobiles or men’s fashion the next. Victor Royce, then, stands out.
He has been with Rolex for half a century now, and 48 of those years have been in Canada. “It came about when I was doing a summer job at an advertising agency,” says Royce. “I was on my second summer there, and thought I would ultimately work long term for them. I went to the United Sates on one occasion, and was introduced to Rolex there. I soon accepted a job with them, in their in-house advertising department.” Royce obviously struck the right notes with his employers; they told him a situation was developing that would be of great interest to him. This was in the mid-1960s. Rolex had been in Canada since the early 1900s, and was ready for a new chapter. “It really came about by chance. The job was about communicating with consumers, writing letters, opening the communications department,” he says. Canada, along with the United Kingdom, were essentially the first foreign markets Rolex chose to establish, followed closely by the U.S.
Royce muses aloud about how things have developed. “There have been huge changes, from those early days to today. Fine jewellery and watches back then were not all that common for a family to purchase. It has certainly developed well since then.” Part of that is certainly cultural. “The mosaic of this country has changed, and a luxury culture, a watch culture, has evolved. Canadians travel much more, and gradually watches became as important an accessory as shoes.” Rolex has long been an innovator within the luxury watch industry, and as Royce says, “We were first to develop many significant features in watches. It has always been a fascinating brand, and company, to work for.”
Over the years, other opportunities did indeed present themselves. Royce acknowledges this fact, but says, “Like most people, I would at least consider such options. But each time, I determined I would not be better off making a change. The truth is, I cannot think of a better company to be associated with.” That likely made his choices rather easy, and of course, Royce was able to grow with the company over the years.
These days, he does have a bit more responsibility as a mentor, but “retail level is where I’ve had the most influence, I would say.” That is probably why Royce leaves his final comments as something not really about any legacy. “I leave that to others,” he says. Rather, he notes, with passion, that “I am envious of people just starting in our business today. What you will see from Rolex is more of the same; innovation, progress, retail excellence. Methods of delivery change, but the message remains the same. These are very exciting times.”
UPDATE: In 2016, Victor Royce retired from Rolex Canada.
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