Luxury watchmaker Audemars embraces pre-owned market

A diamond-studded Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, similar to above, “with moderate scratches” sells for $9,450 on The RealReal online site, about a third of the “estimated retail price.” (Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
0

Luxury watchmaker Audemars embraces pre-owned market

GENEVA: Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet said it would launch a second-hand business this year, becoming the first big brand to announce plans to tap into a fast-growing market for pre-owned premium watches.
The company said it had carried out a test run in one store in Geneva and would launch the business more widely at its outlets in Switzerland this year. If this proved successful, it said it would roll out the operation in the US and Japan.
“Second-hand is the next big thing in the watch industry,” Chief Executive Francois-Henry Bennahmias said in an interview at the SIHH watch fair in Geneva this week.
Luxury watchmakers have hitherto eschewed the second-hand trade, fearing diluting the exclusivity of their brands and cannibalizing their sales. They have instead ceded the ground to third-party dealers.
But some are now looking to change tack, driven by an industry-wide sales slowdown combined with a second-hand market that is expanding rapidly, fueled by online platforms like Chrono24 and The RealReal.
“At the moment, in watches, we leave it to what I call the ‘dark side’ to deal with demand for pre-owned pieces,” added Bennahmias, whose company is known for its octagonal Royal Oak timepieces that sell for 40,000 Swiss francs (SR156,283) on average.
“Anybody but the brands (is selling second hand) — it’s an aberration commercially speaking,” he said, without giving any details about how they would price pre-owned watches.
Several smaller brands, including H.Moser & Cie and MB&F, have signaled interest in the second-hand trade.
“It is important to control the sale of second-hand watches to protect the owners and the value of watches already in the market by keeping the grey market in check,” H.Moser & Cie boss Edouard Meylan said.
MB&F, which plans to launch second-hand sales via its website this year, said it expected to typically give a 20-30 percent discount on second-hand watches. A spokesman said customers buying from established watch brands could feel confident they were getting genuine products in good working order and with a valid warranty.
Bigger brands Rolex, Patek Philippe, Swatch Group, Richemont and Breitling all declined to comment, when asked whether they planned to enter the second-hand market, while LVMH’s watch division was not immediately available.
Audemars Piguet said it would launch its second-hand business in several, but not all, of its 26 Swiss outlets, but declined to specify how many stores or give a more precise date.
It will initially allow customers to trade in old Audemars Piguet watches as part-exchange for new ones, and then sell on the second-hand watches. It has not yet decided whether to buy second-hand watches for cash, added the firm, saying its sales had come close to the 1-billion Swiss franc mark last year.
Experts say the second-hand luxury watches business, mostly done via online platforms or specialized retailers, is growing rapidly as a new generation of customers that values variety more than permanent ownership enters the luxury world.
In an example of the discounts offered online, a diamond-studded Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “with moderate scratches” sells for $9,450 on The RealReal, about a third of the “estimated retail price.”
Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox said he estimated the size of the second-hand market at around $5 billion a year in revenue, including watches sold at auction, and that it had outperformed the market for new pieces in the last couple of years.
That is still dwarfed by a new luxury watch sector worth €37 billion, according to consultancy Bain & Cie. However Swiss watch exports fell 3.3 percent in 2015 and 9.9 percent in 2016 before posting a modest 2.8 percent rise in the first 11 months of 2017.
The US, where sales of new watches have been falling for years, is the number one market for pre-owned watches, followed by Britain and Japan, said US retailer Danny Govberg, who sells new watches for Rolex and other brands, but also an increasing number of second-hand timepieces. His company said its second-hand sales had grown by 37-40 percent year-on-year over the past five years. In an example of prices, it said it listed a second-hand Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for $24,950 compared with a $32,000 retail price.
Together with a partner in Hong Kong and a Singapore-based investor, Govberg recently launched global e-commerce platform WatchBox for buying and selling pre-owned luxury watches.
“People sell us watches by the bucket,” he said.
He said many people sold watches to buy a new one so the pre-owned market was actually driving new sales, like in the car market. “The brands are still trying to figure it out, they don’t have the solution yet,” he said.
Audemars Piguet’s Bennahmias said watchmakers had to amend business models to deal with changing consumer habits.
“We’re witnessing a social and cultural change that forces us to think about what the business will look like in five or 10 years,” he added. “Time flies, we need to watch out.”


Arab stars take the viral #10YearChallenge on Instagram

Jessica Kahawaty at an event in 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
0

Arab stars take the viral #10YearChallenge on Instagram

DUBAI: Celebrities around the world have taken on a new social media challenge that has seen them sharing photos taken 10 years apart to show off just how much (or in some cases, how little) they have changed.

A clutch of Arab influencers also jumped on the bandwagon and shared snaps taken a decade apart, including the likes of Lebanese star Karen Wazen and Saudi designer and blogger Tamara Al-Gabbani.

Al-Gabbani took to Instagram with two posts, both of which she claims show her 10 years apart.

“No edits! No filters! Just braces, fuller brows and no more highlights!” she captioned the first post.

Ten years ago, she sported blonde locks and thinner eyebrows. Fast forward to 2019, and Al-Gabbani looks almost the same, besides her jet-black hair and braces.

Wazen shared two side-by-side snaps — the first of which was a photo of her posing with her husband, Elias Bakhazi.

“It started when we were young,” she captioned the photographs.

For her part, Lebanese-Australian model and influencer Jessica Kahawaty shared a composite photograph in which she looks almost identical in the two snaps.

“20-year-old me and 30-year-old me #10yearchallenge,” she captioned the post, adding “I love this little challenge. Shows how much we have all evolved and a good excuse to dig up memorable pictures — with memorable eyebrows lol (sic).”

Although her hair is slightly shorter in 2019 and her eyebrows are fuller, the humanitarian and event host looks largely unchanged.

Saudi-Lebanese style star Alanoud Badr also took part in the challenge and shared a side-by-side composite photograph.

It seems that fuller eyebrows are a 2019 trend as she too sported a thinner set in her older photograph.

Based in Dubai, Badr is a regular fixture on the UAE’s fashion scene and even has her own brand called Lady Fozaza, which she launched in 2011.

The viral craze has seen a hoard of celebrities take to Instagram to share their photographs, including the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks and Tyra Banks.

Lopez shared a throwback photo of herself while pregnant and then, in 2019, wearing a canary yellow swimsuit with a taught tummy and toned muscles — she may have won the challenge for seeming to age backwards and it’s enough to make us want to hit the gym.