Rolex and Bucherer: a shared history

August 2023

Rolex and Bucherer: a shared history

The recent announcement of Rolex’s acquisition of prestigious watch and jewellery retailer Bucherer marks the culmination of nearly a century of shared history. Here’s a brief retrospective and our observations on this momentous development.


lmost a century ago (99 years, to be precise), the very first Rolex watch found its way into a Bucherer boutique. Today, the “super-retailer” (as we called it in our previous report) has been acquired by its primary partner. The successful alliance between the two companies began in 1924 when Ernst Bucherer, son of the founder Carl Friedrich Bucherer, joined forces with Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf.

In the 1980s, led by company president Jörg G. Bucherer, the retailer began to expand internationally – first to Austria and subsequently to Germany. After acquiring a series of other retailers (Kurz in 1989, Swiss Lion in 2001, The Watch Gallery in 2017 and, most notably, Tourneau in 2018), the Lucerne-based company established itself as one of the world’s leading watch retailers. With Rolex’s takeover, this international network is now set to enter a whole new dimension.

A testament to the unique bond between the two companies is the fact that Bucherer was the first retailer chosen by Rolex to roll out its certified pre-owned (CPO) programme last year. Of the retailer’s 100+ points of sale worldwide, 53 offer Rolex models and 48 stock Tudor.

Rolex and Bucherer: a shared history

With no direct heirs, Jörg G. Bucherer naturally turned to his long-standing partner to secure the future of his family empire. Indeed, it would have been virtually unthinkable for Rolex to see this vital and historic network fall into other hands.

Nevertheless, the watchmaker has been keen to reassure industry observers. According to its statement, Bucherer will retain its individual identity and autonomy, and Rolex’s collaboration with other official retailers in its sales network will remain unaffected. The press release states that the acquisition is the “best solution” not only for its own brands, but also for all partner watch and jewellery brands, as well as for the entire Bucherer Group workforce.

Much like its role within the new Watches and Wonders foundation, which integrates an ever-increasing number of brands into a global showcase, the Geneva-based watchmaker has historically adopted a specific vision of the industry (no doubt due its own specific structure and position), which emphasises the importance of maintaining a diverse array of players in the ecosystem.

In this respect, the takeover is perhaps the most natural solution for preserving Bucherer’s illustrious legacy. While the announcement was a surprise to many, it didn’t come as a total shock. Like the CPO programme launched by Rolex last year, it signals a significant restructuring for the industry’s future. The acquisition also positions the Geneva-based brand even more centrally within the watchmaking industry, effectively crowning it as the reigning monarch of retailers.

The Europa Star Newsletter