n establishing pre-owned practices that are closer to the “normal” procedure in the world of Swiss watches, one traditional actor is now playing a big role. Bucherer, the largest global watch retailer, has opened a new dedicated service, beginning with its boutiques in Geneva and Zurich, soon to be extended to the German and British markets. It also has a dedicated e-commerce platform, and already conducts pre-owned operations through Tourneau in the United States.
“We have global ambitions. After we acquired Tourneau in January 2018, we learned a lot of important operative details for the Certified Pre-Owned business,” says Odilo Lamprecht, Head CPO Europe at Bucherer. “That has enabled us to launch a highly mature product onto the European market now. Our experience with Tourneau has also shown us that customers appreciate the fact that the Certified Pre-Owned offering is integrated in our existing boutiques. It’s all about convenience for our customers.” We met him to talk about Bucherer’s strategy.
- Odilo Lamprecht, Head CPO Europe, Bucherer
Europa Star: What triggered your decision to enter the pre-owned market?
Odilo Lamprecht: More and more people are interested in beautiful watches, and vintage models with a history are especially popular. There is rapidly growing demand. We have been keeping an eye on those developments for a long time. As watch experts, we understand that buying a pre-owned watch often comes with uncertainties. Our Certified Pre-Owned concept aims to give watch enthusiasts an entirely new platform and redefine the pre-owned watch business.
Can you share your expectations on the longer run?
Bucherer aims to revolutionise this market and reintroduce pre-owned watches into the luxury segment. After all, coveted brands and models retain, or even increase, their appeal over time. We can offer collectors a carefully curated range of rare models and limited editions that they would otherwise be unable to find. A good selection of vintage items additionally gives us access to new customers. They are the ones who probably wouldn’t spend a lot of money on a new watch. We also believe that the pre-owned concept provides us with an opportunity to boost our sales of new watches, because customers may trade in their own watch for a new model.
“We have been keeping an eye on those developments for a long time. As watch experts, we understand that buying a pre-owned watch often comes with uncertainties.”
However, the competition is already tough on this segment...
There are plenty of companies in the market. But many of them are start-ups that rely primarily on online sales. Most sellers do not even have an offline presence. We sell offline as well as online. We believe that the offline range displayed in our boutiques is an important key to success. Customers like to be able to see and try on the watches. It turns the purchase of a luxurious watch into an emotional experience. With a company history dating back more than 130 years and a wide-spread presence in the market, Bucherer exudes tradition and important values, such as reliability. Trust is crucial in the Certified Pre-Owned business.
In addition Bucherer reaches a much broader audience than pure Certified Pre-Owned sellers do. We have the advantage of a large geographical footprint and can successively expand our Certified Pre-Owned range to additional countries and cities, both physically in our stores and through our online shop. At this point, we are represented in 6 countries and 36 locations. This global reach allows us to get more and more people interested in Certified Pre-Owned and our special concept.
“We believe that the offline range displayed in our boutiques is an important key to success.”
What is your understanding of the word “certified” in Certified Pre-Owned? Don’t you think that this word is now everywhere but often void of sense?
Yes, you are right: “Certified pre-owned” is not a protected expression. That makes it even more important that our customers know that “certified” is more than just a word at Bucherer. We want them to have complete confidence in the authenticity of the watches they buy from us. But that is not enough: We have our own, in-house watchmakers who put all watches through their paces to find any hidden faults. Every single watch is opened, thoroughly serviced and, if necessary, repaired. The watchmaker confirms the condition of the watch with his or her signature, and we give our customers a two-year warranty to boot. We have developed our own logo, a visual marker of expertise and trust that clearly certifies our Certified Pre-Owned watches.
Where do you source your watches and how do you set their price?
We get most of our watches from our customers. Consumers can trade in their watches or just sell their watch to us. Apart from that, thanks to the long history of Bucherer, we also have many excellent business contacts in the market. To qualify the watches we have developed our own IT system that takes into account a wide variety of objective criteria that all contribute to set the price in the end.
“We get most of our watches from our customers. Consumers can trade in their watches or just sell their watch to us.”
Do you consider that the Certified Pre-Owned market might one day surpass the market for new watches?
We can only speak for our company: of course, we have set certain targets that emphasize how serious we are about our ambitions and expectations. And we are totally confident that in the medium term, the Certified Pre-Owned segment will account for a significant portion of the Group result.
Tourneau was already active in Certified Pre-Owned. What did you learn from them to launch your own service?
After we acquired Tourneau in January 2018, we learned a lot of important, operative details for the Certified Pre-Owned business. That has enabled us to launch a highly mature product onto the European market now. Of course, we are taking the unique characteristics of the local market into account, too. Our experience with Tourneau also has shown us that customers appreciate the fact that the Certified Pre-Owned offering is integrated in our existing boutiques. It’s all about convenience for our customers. Anyone who wants to trade in their watch will find our complete range of available watches in one place. We’ve even had some cases where customers bought the new model they wanted and also discovered a certified pre-owned watch they liked, and spontaneously bought that one, too – all at once, from the same location.
“After we acquired Tourneau in January 2018, we learned a lot of important, operative details for the Certified Pre-Owned business.”
Among the brands you represent, what was their reaction when you announced your decision to go into the CPO segment?
As passionate watch enthusiasts, we offer a very large range of watches and have established a deep business relationship with the world’s most renowned brands for many years, based on trust and mutual respect. They know that we give their pre-owned watches the sophisticated environment they deserve as luxury objects.
What are the next steps in your expansion plan?
We have global ambitions for our Certified Pre-Owned business. After Geneva, Zurich and Hamburg, there will be more outlets soon: in spring 2020 Paris and London will follow. But even if the Certified Pre-Owned offering has not yet a physical point of sale in a local Bucherer boutique, customers can still browse the range of our Certified Pre-Owned watches online.