At the end of last month, Sotheby’s and Bucherer launched an innovative partnership at the intersection of auction and retail. The international auction house and leading watch and jewelry retailer announced they would collaborate on a series of initiatives, starting with an exclusive exhibition at Bucherer’s flagship boutique in Geneva and the sale of pre-owned watches certified by the retailer in Sotheby’s “Important Watches” auction, happening on Tuesday, May 11.
The exhibition, which also runs until May 11th, is set across five floors of retail space and offers collectors an opportunity to preview extraordinary highlights from Sotheby’s spring luxury sales series in Geneva and New York. The exhibition is dedicated to the fastest-growing luxury categories on the auction market, from dazzling jewels and sought-after timepieces to designer handbags and exclusive sneakers. So let’s take a look at why this partnership matters and what it can tell us about changing trends in the luxury market.
Pre-owned luxury is going mainstream
It is worth stepping back and seeing how this partnership is unique from the platform perspective and indicates a change of tactic in the luxury market. Sotheby’s is one of the leaders for “preowned” art, and now it is safe to say that high-end watches and other luxury goods are following in the same direction.
Take the example of a Rolex Daytona owned by Paul Newman, which made news late last year when it sold for $5,475,000 at “Racing Pulse,” a New York auction by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo. It is easy to see why this current partnership makes sense for Bucherer.
Likewise, it opens the door for more partnerships for Sotheby’s, including sneakers and luxury bags. Cultivating these ties early is essential, as StockX, an online marketplace specializing in the resale of sneakers, was recently valued at $1 billion. There is a considerable movement into preowned from all sides, and watches are only one way to look at it.
Second-hand luxury is going mainstream. Around the world, the acceptance of pre-owned goods is becoming more widely accepted. Whereas previously owning a second-hand luxury item may have been seen as less desirable, it is now generally met with the same enthusiasm as buying a brand new designer piece.
Companies are looking to entertain customers
Additionally, Bucherer will see their marketing efforts bolstered as they succeed in entertaining their existing customers with a fresh new approach. Google Trends indicates that luxury watches tend to stagnate and, that despite enjoying an iconic brand reputation, people lose interest.
Cooperations like this will help them maintain and generate new interest in their core products by showing off new unique aspects and categories. Although not serving as a revenue stream, it is a crucial way to build credibility and generate more buzz and attention. This is especially important from the perspective of the Asian market, and China in particular.
People want to purchase items that tell a story
Overall, I anticipate that we will see more and more luxury companies follow this example as it becomes well-established that used products gain in value. See the example of the sneaker retailer, StockX, above.
In fact, as early as 2018, Paul Boutros, Phillips senior vice-president and head of the New York watch department, said of a Heuer Monaco ref. 1133, owned by Steve McQueen, which sold for $2,208,000 —“People love watches with stories to tell. They want to own watches worn by their heroes.”
Strategic partnerships are only going to become more important
In general, these partnerships are divided into three strands: Product, Marketing & Branding, and Sales. This is the approach you’ll see being following as more strategic partnerships are forged.
In this case, we see that Bucherer had established product cooperations with select partners both inside and outside the watch industry through their “Blue” edition (product), now they are starting to do co-marketing with other platforms, and the future might also bring cooperation in sales (off or online). The extent that other brands will follow suit remains to be seen, but it is clear that pre-owned luxury is becoming an important market, and brands that jump in early will have a clear advantage.
In the meantime, we will keep you posted on developments and point out key partnerships or events that demonstrate how this market is evolving. Likewise, to stay up to date on current social media trends and growth marketing hacks, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest digital marketing news.