Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet has revealed that it plans to launch a second-hand business this year, becoming the first big brand to tap into a fast-growing market for pre-owned premium watches, reports Business of Fashion.
Announced at SIHH 2018 in Geneva, chief executive Francois-Henry Bennahmias told Reuters in an interview that “second-hand is the next big thing in the watch industry.”
Luxury watchmakers have not been keen on second-hand trade, as they are concerned with diluting the exclusivity of their brands and cannibalising of their sales, but with industry-wide sales slowdown combined with a second-hand market that is growing rapidly, times are now changing. Experts say that second-hand luxury watches business are mostly done via online platforms or specialised retailers, and the new generation of customers entering the luxury world value variety more than permanent ownership.
Other bigger watch brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Swatch Group, Richemont and Breitling have not shared whether they plan to enter the second-hand market, while several other smaller brands, including H.Moser & Cie and MB&F, have shown interest.
Audemars Piguet said that will initially allow customers to trade in their old Audemars Piguet watches as part-exchange for new ones, and then sell on the second-hand watches. However, the firm added that it has not yet decided whether to buy second-hand watches for cash.
The company also told Reuters that it had carried out a test run in one store in Geneva and would launch the business widely at its outlets in Switzerland this year. If successful, Audemars Piguet said it would roll out the operation in the United States and Japan.
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Also, Audemars Piguet debuted its latest watch priced at a cool $34,800 USD.