There can be no mistaking the signs. After Richemont’s announcement, last year, that it was entering the pre-owned market following its acquisition of Watchfinder.com, it was clear to all that second-hand was a new force within the luxury watch market. Now Bucherer has driven the point home. Last week the retailer opened the Gallery, on the fourth floor of its Geneva store, an area reserved for pre-owned watches and geared towards a new type of customer experience. This comes just weeks after Les Ambassadeurs announced that it was moving into the second-hand market. But whereas Les Ambassadeurs has five stores, all in Switzerland, Bucherer operates on a much larger scale. One of the foremost watch retailers in the world, it has 17 sites in Europe, 28 Tourneau boutiques in the United States (from a takeover last year) and four Baron & Leeds stores in Hawaii, also part of the group since 2018. Taking its lead from Tourneau, which has been selling pre-owned watches for the past decade, Bucherer is launching second-hand sales in Europe, starting with Geneva. And this is just the beginning.
Bucherer is there to give a taste of what vintage has to offer, knowing full well that once the vintage bug bites, there is no going back.
“We’re entering the pre-owned market because of its phenomenal potential,” says Guido Zumbühl, CEO of the Bucherer Group. “Although we don’t have exact figures, it’s definitely two or three times the size of the market for new watches. Such huge potential means there is an expanding clientele for this type of product. People who don’t necessarily buy a watch with the intention of handing it down to the next generation. These customers, the Millennials we hear so much about, are on our doorstep, with their different tastes and, very often, a keen understanding of watches. It’s up to us to find the right responses to their wishes. The Gallery is definitely one.” The fourth floor of the Bucherer building in Geneva, property of the Group, has been entirely refurbished and transformed into a relaxing lounge space, where watch enthusiasts can kick back, enjoy a fabulous view of the lake, a drink in their hand, and chat about 1960s Autavias or the Rolex Explorer II “Freccione”. With no obligation to buy. Bucherer is there for your viewing pleasure and also to give a taste of what vintage has to offer through the 350-some watches on display and in stock – knowing full well that once the vintage bug bites, there is no going back.
Buy, sell, trade
Every option is available to customers who can, for example, bring in a watch they would like to sell; if the retailer is interested, it will make an offer within 30 minutes. They can also negotiate the value of their watch as part exchange against a purchase, or go home with the pre-owned watch that has caught their eye. And this, both in-store and online. “What sets us apart from the competition, most of whom focus on online sales, is that we come from distribution and have a strong physical presence through our stores that is echoed online,” Guido Zumbühl continues. “This gives us two advantages. Bucherer’s presence in the field is proof of the solidity of a company established in 1888 that inspires confidence; an essential factor in a market where fakes and counterfeits are rife. This is why all our pre-owned watches are checked, revised as necessary, then authenticated and certified with a two-year warranty. The second point relates to places such as this. I’m convinced vintage watches really do have emotional appeal, provided we can pick them up and handle them. Internet has transformed consumption habits. Now it’s about altering perspectives and offering new purchasing experiences.”
The Geneva Gallery is a concept, still in the testing stages, but the group already has plans to introduce similar spaces wherever possible in its Bucherer stores, starting with Zurich in October, followed by Hamburg in November then, next year, London and Paris. For the less capacious sites, the group is currently looking into a shop-in-shop solution. Guido Zumbühl concludes in ambitious terms: “Bucherer’s entry into the Swiss then European market for certified pre-owned watches is a new milestone in the company’s history of over 130 years. Bucherer intends to revolutionise this market and give pre-owned watches a rightful place in the luxury segment.”