“Reinventing yourself as a concept watch store”


October 2017

“Reinventing yourself as a concept watch store”

“We’ve been a family business for fifty years. Besides the boutique, 35 years ago we took over a vintage watch shop called Au Vieil Horloger."
“Reinventing yourself as a concept watch store”


t that time, people bought vintage watches because they didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. It was rare to have more than one or two watches. Today, people don’t hesitate to sell their watch to buy a new one. Behaviour has completely changed, and the vintage market has seen steep growth. It used to be a rather pejorative term!

Today, we offer a genuine watch concept store comprising a multi-brand boutique with new models from 15 brands, a vintage area, a service workshop, a gallery, a watchmaking bookshop and even an eatery, the Swiss Made Bar & Grill!

We saw that the brands themselves were looking to focus on the higher-quality outlets and had completely revised their distribution network, gradually cutting out all the multi-brand outlets. Three fellow boutiques have already disappeared in our district. If we don’t do something, we’re dead! And there’s no point in staking everything on prices and discounts. Moreover, we want to expand some more. But transforming our sales spaces demands investments running into millions of francs.

“Reinventing yourself as a concept watch store”

We’ve suffered from the proliferation of watch offers on the internet, especially in the vintage niche. But it’s a jungle, and people have had so many bad surprises online, with counterfeit watches or bad quality, that the trend is reversing somewhat and they want to know who they’re dealing with.

Today, we’re giving the notion of service new value. If a watch hasn’t been bought from us, we charge for the service. Otherwise, it’s included in the price. We lower our margin, but we make a concession to customers who place their trust in us. Retailers have to stop whining! Of course, the iPhone has changed our lives from A to Z. But we have to adapt if we don’t want to share the fate of candle-makers or travel agents… There’s so much information around: that also makes people want to buy watches more. And digital isn’t everything: why do you think Zalando (a German e-commerce business based in Berlin specialising in sales of shoes and clothing. Created in 2008, it has a presence in 14 European countries) is now starting to open physical stores?

We’re not planning to open an online store at all. The problem with vintage is that people look at the top end of the range when they want to sell and the bottom end when they want to buy. We prefer to diversify, for example by making our space available to companies for events or exhibitions. We’re trying to expand our customer base. In short, we have to give it all we’ve got to get the minimum back! As for the brands, what with vertical integration and higher prices they’ve got themselves trapped. Consequently, their margins haven’t necessarily risen… The brands have weakened their own position.

We’re the brands’ fighting force, yet they’ve been rather hard on the multi-brand retailers. But they’re starting to like our concept store; five years ago, they thought we were a bit crazy.”

Name: La Maison de l’Horlogerie
Boutique: Genève
Launch date: 1967
Category: Moyen de gamme, vintage
Brands: Voir page sur site internet