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Bucherer 3.0: Beyond Certified Pre-Owned, How Bucherer Is Re-inventing Retail

Retail is evolving to keep relevant. Bucherer, the largest watch retailer in the world, understands this perfectly. Consequently, the Lucerne brand, founded in 1888, is entering the booming market of certified pre-owned. But that's only the beginning!

By Benjamin Teisseire

While retail is suffering worldwide, Bucherer continues its thoughtful expansion. After first acquiring The Watch Gallery Ltd. in London, then Tourneau LLC and Baron & Leeds in the US, Bucherer continued to refine its offerings. Now with the September 2nd launch of its certified pre-owned department at its flagship store on Geneva’s Rue du Rhône, Bucherer is taking a bold step towards redefining the very concept of in-store retail.

New Business

Last year, Watchonista featured an article on the grey market (read HERE), and the secondary watch market’s potential is enormous. Guido Zumbühl, CEO of Bucherer, confirms it: "The offer of [pre-owned] watches is huge. Addressing the phenomenon is responding to a need of the end customers. As much for younger generations – for whom the concept of "possession" is less important – than for confirmed collectors who are looking for new secure channels to sell and buy."

By creating an entire certified pre-owned department, Bucherer sends a strong message to the whole industry: brands, customers, and distributors. The leading watch retailer is tackling the problem head-on and showing its strength. Patrick Graf, Chief Commercial Officer of Bucherer Group, elaborates, "Our goal is to facilitate the point of contact between supply and demand. We enter this market with a decisive advantage because we have an extensive physical presence in the markets, in Europe and the US. This allows customers to come and see and touch the timepieces, to try them out, to be a live consultant. In addition, our close partnerships with leading brands allow us to guarantee our offer. Everyone wins."

Drawing on the institutional knowledge of Tourneau and The Watch Gallery, long-time players on the certified pre-owned scene, Bucherer brings to the table the essential air of reliability that comes with a 130-year history. This is undoubtedly a valuable asset that all stakeholders will appreciate.

The Bucherer Benefits

The first benefit for the end customer is that Bucherer physically owns the stock presented in the shop or on the e-commerce platform. No waitlists, no surprises for the interested customer. The second benefit is, of course, the actual certification that guarantees the authenticity and quality of the timepieces: verification of the serial numbers with the brand; confirmation of water resistance, overall functionality, power reserve accuracy, and chronometric precision; and, authentication of the movement and its components. All of this allows Bucherer to offer a 2-year warranty on every watch offered in the department. The third benefit is the wide selection offered, with an impressive assortment of Rolex, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, IWC, Breitling, Panerai ... etc.

Fourth and finally, Bucherer invested heavily in the staff dedicated to this new department. Patrick Graf explains, "Collectors who sell their watches or look for new ones are very knowledgeable. We must be up to the task with a particular team. With the help of our watchmakers, we can offer an estimate within 30 minutes. This will offer almost immediate opportunity to redeem or "trade-in," the latter often accompanied by a premium, to share with our Certified Pre-Owned model or a new one." A welcome efficiency that will help build customer loyalty.

Bucherer’s certified pre-owned business model is based on seamless logistics and will be extended to other stores quickly. First Hamburg at the end of the year, as well as in Zurich, as a "pop-up" store, initially. By 2020, Munich, Düsseldorf, London, and Paris will also have certified pre-owned departments.

Retail 3.0

Beyond this new certified pre-owned undertaking, the brand is expanding the whole concept of retail. Proof of this is where the certified pre-owned launch took place: the Bucherer Gallery.

Located on the fourth floor of the boutique, the Bucherer Gallery has a small lounge, stylish and welcoming, with stunning views of the Mont Blanc Bridge, Lake Geneva, and its iconic Jet d'Eau. Additionally, there is a large side room bathed in light with a table that can comfortably accommodate 20 guests. Currently, an exhibition of photographs as well as the first "already loved" watch models surround visitors. At the back is the certified pre-owned room itself with a rotating display boasting a collection of Rolex, Omega, and Cartier that could make any collector blush.

With Bucherer Gallery, the store becomes a place of meetings, exchanges, and energy. You can have a drink, admire an art exhibit, talk about watches, sell pieces from your collection, or buy new (or vintage) pieces. The atmosphere is elegant but relaxed. The staff is competent, knowledgeable, and available.

The future of retail is emerging, and Bucherer is well aware of this. The gallery in the Geneva boutique is a beautiful example of how Bucherer is adapting.  

Pro Tip: when you go there, do not hesitate to come with your watch to have it evaluated. And bring your credit card because temptations abound.

(Images provided by Bucherer)

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