Bucherer launches Certified Pre-Owned in Paris
The latest luxury retailer to enter the vintage watch business is Bucherer, the largest big-boutique for quality watches in Paris.
Bucherer will debut a new Certified Pre-Owned section on Friday in its Parisian flagship store on the Boulevard des Capucines, right next door to the famed Paris opera house, Palais Garnier.
Described as the largest store dedicated to quality watches in the world, the 2,200-square-meter boutique opened in April 2013. One indicator of how seriously Bucherer takes CPO is that it has devoted 150 square meters to it, or 7% of the its Parisian flagship's surface. This same store is the fourth Bucherer has opened with a pre-owned department – after Zurich, Geneva and Hamburg - in its chain of 26 stores worldwide. And as many as 10 stores could have CPO sections by the end of this year.
“A decade ago, very few people felt comfortable wearing other people’s clothes, but now it is quite normal. It’s in the spirt of our time, of reusing items of quality, of sustainability. And the same is true of watches,” explains Bucherer’s managing director for France, Nathalie Célia.
Bucherer (pronounced without the "C") was launched in 1888, and is still owned by its founding family. Today, its three divisions are dedicated to retailing: not only its own chain but also that of Tourneau, which it acquired in 2018. Founded in New York during the 1900s, Tourneau operates 28 retail store locations across 10 US states, as well as a fully-integrated e-commerce site. Bucherer also owns its own watch business, Carl F. Bucherer, and a jewelry division. Closely held, the group does not divulge its annual turnover.
Other houses have already led the path into the pre-owned watches business, like the Richemont group, the world’s biggest grouping of luxury watch brands – many of whom are sold in this Paris store. For instance, in June 2018, Richemont acquired Watchfinder.com and is very bullish about its prospects for said site, which is devoted to re-selling second-hand timepieces.
“Please do not call the watches 'vintage watches,' they are pre-owed,” cautions Célia. A walk around the plush CPO section showed a score of wristwatches from marques like IWC, Panerai, Rolex and Breitling.
The new section already sold its first two pre-owned watches – an Omega Speedmaster for €2,650 and a Rolex Air-King for €4,300. Bucherer expects these sales to be somewhere close to its core price range, though it does offer CPO prices that shoot up to €100,000.
“We generally get the watches from our existing clients, though occasionally also from international vendors,” explains Odilo Lamprecht, head of CPO Europe, whose headquarters are based in Lucerne, Switzerland.
On average, 60% of the store’s purchases are made by men; and 40% by women. Regarding taste, Célia stressed that they are ever-changing, meaning that men now often buy watches ringed in diamonds, whilst the career ladies opt instead for good, honest steel.
"Mint condition watches in their original boxes take about two hours to service before being resold, whilst others that are worn by owners who enjoy skiing or yachting, for instance, can take up to several days", explained Lamprecht.
Generally, in most resale businesses, the lineage of an item can rapidly increase its value. However, in the ever-so-discreet world of luxury watches, Bucherer intends not to trade on the name of any previous watch owner, and on the contrary insists on dissimulating it.
“When we actually have a box which contains the owner’s name and information, we carefully erase it before putting it into CPO,” maintains Lamprecht.
Discretion is the better part of valor, not just for Shakespeare’s Falstaff but also, as it may seem, for Bucherer's CPO.
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