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Rolex Acquires Bucherer

The largest watch brand in the world buys one of the largest watch retailers in the world.

| By Robin Nooy | 2 min read |

In a maybe not-so-shocking turn of events, news just broke that Rolex has acquired or is in the process of acquiring Bucherer. It’s a known fact that Rolex, over time, integrates trustful and longstanding partners, including suppliers, into the Rolex group. It has done so many times before and will probably continue to do so in the future. What’s important, however, is that with the acquisition of Bucherer, Rolex integrates one of the largest retail and distribution networks (if not the world’s largest) for watches into its activities. With 100 points of sales points of sales worldwide, Bucherer is indeed a formidable brand.

For close to a century, Rolex and Bucherer have been working closely together and have contributed to each other’s success. Today, with this acquisition, the partnership is becoming an integrated partnership. Bucherer, however, will continue to operate independently and under its own name. Since late last year, Bucherer was also announced as the official partner of Rolex’ Certified Pre-owned programme, which only intensifies things. This integration is also a clear indication that distribution and sales are key topics in today’s watchmaking business for Rolex. The integration will be effective once the acquisition has received the green light from the completion authorities. The company also states that the relationship with other official retailers in its sales network will remain unchanged. But what about retail chains like Watches of Switzerland? Time will tell.

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With approximately 1.2 million watches produced and sold each year, resulting in a turnover of more than CHF 10 billion, Rolex is the leading company within the industry. Its sister company Tudor, which will very likely also benefit from this acquisition, produces an estimated 350,000 watches per year with a turnover between CHF 600 and CHF 700 million (according to estimations delivered by Morgan Stanley).

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6 responses

  1. What about Carl F. Bucherer? Is the watch brand included in the deal, is it a subsidiary of Bucherer or is it separate, and if it is separate then was it included in the deal?

  2. Ticking – I asked this question to the US president of Carl F. Bucherer. He told me that yes the watch brand is included in the deal although nobody really knows what that means at this point.

  3. I was beginning to be happy to hear about the acquisition as I hoped it would mean that they were bringing the AD in house with a strategy to dismiss other ADs that are screwing customers and holding on to watches for those that spend wildly with them. But later on you state they will keep their existing AD network so it won’t change anything for the consumer except probably to make prices go even higher. And here I was stupidly hoping that the local AD, Geary’s, who screws people left and right, would get their ticket pulled. No such luck. What a racket!

  4. @TickinTimeBaum – we asked ourselves the same question and we don’t have an answer yet. We’re trying to get some details. It is indeed an important question.

  5. Rolex never buys anything to keep things at “arm’s length”, it buys things to integrate them into the Rolex monolith, like the purchase of Aegler. The acquistion of Bucherer probably means that Rolex will now run a “vertically integrated” retail business as well as a vertically integrated manufacture. No doubt all Bucherer stores will be rebranded as Rolex stores in the not too distant future. It also creates a number of important problems for brands like Omega, Cartier, IWC, Breitling and so on because Rolex now has access to commercial information about their watch sales via Bucherer that it can use to its advantage and their detriment. I cannot see Swatch Group, LVMH and Richemont being happy to continue to sell through Bucherer stores knowing that Rolex can access the sensitive financial information between manufacturer and retailer. Rolex can also undermine their market position by heavily discounting Cartier and Omega etc through Bucherer/Rolex stores. Apparently the acquistion has been referred to the Swiss Monopolies and Competition Authority as a result. In any event Rolex probably do not want to sell watches like the Zenith Chronomaster Sport, Omega Seamaster Diver or Speedmaster Professional as these will tend to cannabalise sales of Daytonas and Submariners etc. It is interesting that the Carl F. Bucherer watch brand is included in the sale. This potentially means that Rolex now runs three watch brands, Rolex, Tudor and Carl F. Bucherer, which would allow it to bulk out the inventory when there is another confected “shortage” of Rolex watches.


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