Bucherer Brings the Wow Factor to Customers with Its New Masterworks Concept
Leading multi-brand retailer Bucherer has certainly come a long way since merchant and entrepreneur Carl-Friedrich Bucherer and his wife Louise opened their first specialist watch and jewelry store in Lucerne in 1888.
Today, 135 years on, in Europe alone, the family-owned business now boasts 37 boutiques across six markets – Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Austria, Denmark, and France – with its Paris store the largest watch and jewelry outlet in the world. Plus, in the US, under the banner of Tourneau – which Bucherer acquired in 2018 – the company operates an additional 21 stores across nine states.
Of course, when you carry iconic timekeepers from popular brands like Rolex, Omega, Breitling, or TAG Heuer and blend that with Bucherer’s high level of customer service, you are always likely to be a winner.
But Bucherer isn’t just about the mainstream. Rare is it that you can walk into a watch store and find a Mido Ocean Star Tribute in the same vicinity as a Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck or that you can try on an Oris Divers Sixty-Five before wrist-testing a Roger Dubuis Excalibur, but at Bucherer you can because if you’re a fan of exclusive haute horlogerie, Bucherer has you covered.
What’s more, Bucherer is not just an authorized retailer of established high-end brands: Hyper creative niche brands who are perhaps not yet household names also feature among its rich and varied portfolio: Urwerk, Ressence, and HAUTLENCE, to name just a few.
In a clever new move, Bucherer has created a new in-store platform, one that actively promotes and educates clients about its offering of top-tier timepieces packing pioneering mechanics and impressive craftsmanship. Moreover, it’s designed to help introduce the retailer to those customers ready to progress to the next stage of their watch-collecting journey. Step forward Masterworks.
Haute Horlogerie Masterpieces
“Masterworks is Bucherer’s stage for exceptional masterpieces of artisanal and innovative haute horlogerie, where masterpieces from big established as well as niche independent brands are highlighted and curated,” Bucherer Head of Haute Horlogerie Olivier Gantenbein told Watchonista during our recent visit to its Geneva flagship store.
He continued: “This stage gives customers the opportunity to discover and experience true watchmaking masterpieces and deep dive into the fantastic world of fine watchmaking. Just as with pieces of art, these timepieces captivate the viewer’s gaze and open completely new dimensions within the world of watchmaking.”
Shift in Customer Needs
The platform in question takes the form of dedicated in-store spaces that group together brands and timepieces that, in Bucherer’s eyes, have helped to push the boundaries of contemporary fine watchmaking thanks to “unlimited imagination and creative genius.”
The reason for it is simple. Rather than looking for a quick purchase of a timepiece made by a popular brand with which they are already familiar, customers have recently been showing an increased appetite for discovering something new, different, and exciting.
“We have seen a shift from consumption to experience, where it is not only about the product, but the whole customer journey and experience, which we at Bucherer can provide,” explained Gantenbein. “Our aim is to meet this increasing demand for exclusive, high-end timepieces and offer our clients something they cannot find everywhere.”
Established Brands alongside Niche Independents
One of Bucherer’s missions is to support those established watch brands that have been pushing the envelope of traditional watchmaking and continue to stay innovative today. “Blancpain, Breguet, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre... These brands have helped shape the art of fine watchmaking as pioneers for decades,” said Gantenbein.
Gantenbein said: “As a trusted retailer since 1888, we use our credibility to create and increase awareness of these smaller independent brands who are also pushing the boundaries. We want to shine a spotlight on these brands and the artisans behind them.”
Bringing Attention to Features and Complications
At the same time, Masterworks’ emphasis is on the merits of individual timepieces rather than, say, a brand’s entire collection. For example, in Masterworks, we’ll find the rather beguiling IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde, while the brand’s Pilot’s Chronograph 41 remains part of Bucherer’s core offering.
“We would like to highlight certain features of watches, their complications, where the brand name becomes secondary,” said Gantenbein. “We hope to encourage clients to broaden their horizons and bring their attention to the fact that there are some really interesting features out there.”
To that end, Bucherer has divided its Masterworks collection into four broad categories: “Transparency” featuring openwork watches, “Tourbillon,” “Perpetual Calendar,” and “Independent” creations.
“If a client is interested in discovering a new tourbillon timepiece, for example, we can offer them a variety,” Gantenbein explained. “This is our power as a premium multi-brand retailer: We don’t just offer one or two brands, but a diversity of brands who, between them, make different types of tourbillons.”
During our visit, we were lucky enough to go hands-on with impressive pieces from each of the Masterwork’s four categories: A Breguet Tradition Quantième Rétrograde, an Ulysse Nardin Freak X, a Czapek Quai des Bergues Emerald Green L, an H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar with Funky blue fumé dial, and a Ressence Type 1 Squared. We saw all those gems and the aforementioned IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde.
Focus on Engagement and Education
However, Masterworks is not just about having a dedicated space with watches on display. Bucherer is also keen for Masterworks to create a relaxed environment where its friendly, knowledgeable staff – each store will have its own Masterworks ambassador – take no greater pleasure than to sit down with customers and talk them through each timepiece and brand.
“Our aim is to slow down the retail experience. Enjoy a coffee, engage in a chat, and just talk about watches and share our passion. We welcome all-comers and want to give them an immersive experience in the laid-back yet luxurious atmosphere of our boutiques,” said Gantenbein.
Permanent Collection in Flagship Stores
Bucherer is rolling out its Masterworks concept globally, setting up permanent spaces in many of its flagship stores.
“In Switzerland, there are permanent Masterworks spaces in our Geneva, Lucerne, and Zurich flagship stores,” said Gantenbein. “In Germany, we have a permanent Masterworks space in Berlin, and next year in Frankfurt. If you are in London, you can discover Masterworks at our Covent Garden boutique. And in the US, there will be a Masterworks space at our Las Vegas store when it reopens in May, as well as in our New York City boutique very soon.”
Traveling Roadshow in Other Selected Stores
Those living far from a Bucherer flagship store need not despair. As part of a “roadshow” format, Bucherer is setting up temporary Masterworks spaces at various locations to bring a mouth-watering selection of its Masterworks watches directly to customers’ doorsteps.
For more information about Bucherer’s Masterworks, including dates and locations for its roadshow, please visit Bucherer’s website dedicated to Masterworks.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel, video by Johan Corminboeuf)