he first strong signal happened when luxury giant Richemont bought the British secondary platform Watchfinder.
And there have been countless others – brands such as F.P. Journe and MB&F have announced the launch of certified pre-owned services, and influential retailer London Jewelers cemented an alliance with second-hand specialist Crown & Caliber.
Essentially, you can now buy certified pre-owned timepieces and brand new watches from the same people, and you can choose to do it either by browsing from your home, or walking into the shop.
Just as online merges with offline, the secondary market also merges with the primary market for new watches. Essentially, you can now buy certified pre-owned timepieces and brand new watches from the same people, and you can choose to do it either by browsing from your home, or walking into the shop. At the end of the day, it should all lead to a watch market with minimum friction and maximum choice, focused around a smaller number of increasingly powerful actors, such as Bucherer. “Pre-owned is the new China,” Tirath Kamdar told us. He owns secondary platform True Facet, which partners with retailer Stephen Silver in the USA.
It was time to bring some order to the digital anarchy that is the online pre-owned market, But it doesn’t happen in a day: you still find countless offers online for watches with dubious provenance or quality. But the paradigm shift is that brands and their best retailers are now ready to enter this new realm of the watch world. They used to be afraid that this parallel market would damage their reputation, for instance through deep discounting. But they now have come to realise that, if they want to control it, they had better join it.
It was time to bring some order to the digital anarchy that is the online pre-owned market.
Expect more and more “structuring” to occur, as the secondary market organises itself. Earlier this year, the cooperation between Swiss retailer Les Ambassadeurs and WatchBox was a sign of things to come. The launch of a certified pre-owned service at Bucherer confirms the trend. Even Amazon has introduced a certified pre-owned section on its platform…
Bucherer already operates a certified pre-owned business in the USA through Tourneau. It will now be introducing this service at the Bucherer boutique in Geneva, before expanding it gradually to Zurich, Hamburg, Paris, London, Düsseldorf and Munich.
As Chinese consumers represent a growing customer base for new watches (the secondary market is not yet as developed there), the launch of certified pre-owned caters to a rising consumption habit in the West. It’s not just about watches: the car industry embraced the pre-owned segment a long time ago.