Founded in 1888, Bucherer is one of the oldest houses specializing in watches and jewellery. The world’s largest retailer continues its expansion strategy. Following the acquisition of The Watch Gallery, Tourneau and Baron and Leeds, Bucherer launches its “Certified Pre-Owned” (CPO) program. On the occasion of the opening of their dedicated space at the Bucherer Gallery in Geneva, we were able to chat with their Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Graf about this ambitious program as well as other key strategic moves.
CPO is the next big thing in the watch industry… Why did Bucherer decide to enter this market?
With the acquisition of Tourneau, we got a foot into the Certified Pre-Owned business. At that point, we became one of the most important CPO players in the USA. We had CPO on our radar, and somehow it is a bit surprising that the industry took so long, from a retail perspective, to pay more attention to the Certified Pre-Owned business. Specifically, if you compare it to the automotive industry.
Several trends made us think that the market offers great potential. First, there is a growing interest among mechanical watch collectors. Vintage watches are getting particularly popular. People buy and trade more and more watches. The pre-owned business also provides great entry for a younger clientele or people who are new to watches. The same happens in the car industry. When I bought my first car, it was a pre-owned car. Also, a lot of young people want to wear a watch that expresses their personality and individuality. They are not looking for watches that everybody might be able to purchase.
Once the decision was made, with the support of our US team, we were able to develop this program very quickly.
There are different players for CPO. How does Bucherer stand out?
There are different elements. First of all, we do offer physical retail. We sell online and off-line while most players are exclusively active online.
This business relies on trust. People want to know with whom they will be spending their money. They want to be assured that their watch is treated well, serviced well, that it is not fake… It is all a matter of personal connection and service. Our reputation and competence as watchmakers and watch retailers goes back more than 130 years. We have more than 100 doors. This is an advantage compared to pure players in the CPO business. A lot of them do a great job. But we believe we are raising the bar, offering luxury watches a platform and an environment they deserve.
What does it take to set up such a program?
It is quite substantial. You need to hire the right people, with the right mix between people with a long and deep watch experience but also people with creativity and vision, digital- and technical-minded people who understand the process, people who understand customer-centricity… With regards to aftersales service, you need to make sure you have the right resources and equipment. This is something we are renowned for. We had to add a few people but this is not something new to us.
We have built a team that works on the Gallery concept, without mentioning IT, logistics, finance… there are so many different departments and people to deliver important elements to make such a platform successful. Behind the scene, it is a huge project and involves a huge commitment from Bucherer!
How do you buy watches?
We have different channels. On one side, we have established partners we know through Tourneau: trusted partners we have worked with for many years. Of course, the customer himself has the opportunity to sell and trade watches. It is an important part of our sourcing process. The fact that we can offer a direct trade-in service is a huge advantage we have over pure players. The pre-owned business is part of our multi-brand concept. The customer should be able to trade a watch for a new watch, all this at the same time in the same building.
Will you work exclusively with brands you carry in your traditional retail business?
For the time being, we are working primarily with brands that are already partners, including some brands that we only carry in the UK or the US. We are official retailers; we know these brands and their watches. Are we going to source outside of our existing portfolio? Probably, but as mentioned before this happens we need to have a clear understanding of the brand and we need to be able to service their watches as a certified dealer.
You are now opening in Geneva, what are the next steps?
Next step will be Zurich with a temporary location, before turning mid-2020 to a location similar to the one in Geneva with 170 square meters connected to the existing building in multi-brand business. It will be followed by Hamburg and Dusseldorf. London and Paris are in the pipeline, then sooner or later Vienna. We’ll establish CPO in all relevant cities within our existing retail network. Don’t forget that in the US, with Tourneau in each and every multi-brand retail store you will find the pre-owned business.
What do you hope to achieve with CPO?
First of all, we think of ourselves as a retailer who plays 360° degrees. Of course, we would like to gain new customers but most importantly we aim at building a community within the Bucherer network. In this respect, pre-owned is an essential platform to share a passion for watches. And it does not necessarily mean one needs to own 20 watches. It is all about the love and passion for watches. It is here for everybody; it is meant to be very accessible for all kinds of generations and people.
At the end of the day, it shall also become a source of revenue. But above all, it is an investment in our brand equity. We shall act as a brand.
Talking about branding, what is the story behind the Bucherer BLUE concept?
The concept was developed in 2016. We launched with 10 different brands, 16 different watches. All of them partnered under the same umbrella: the BLUE Edition. This was quite exceptional and unique. So far, such a collection had never been presented at such a scale. It was a huge success. We continued in 2017 and 2018. The industry has often been very conservative. We foster tradition and heritage but we are also an innovative, forward-thinking company.
With Bucherer BLUE, we want to create a platform for different brands who are interested in working with us on future projects. We have clear guidelines for the Blue DNA: social, experience, sustainability are things we should really care about. The young generation really cares about this. We want to deliver a product coherent with this Blue DNA. We had 10 launches in 2019. We will do fewer launches in the future but more specific launches. We will build a whole theme around the watches and their universe. We’ll add other products that could be headphones, cool sneakers, travel gear, delivering the right experience under this BLUE umbrella… We’ll launch this altogether, communicating in a different way. BLUE is a really important pillar of Bucherer.
More details ON CPO and watches for sale at bucherer.com.