Why watch sellers are betting big on brick and mortar purchases

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Who Said In-Person Shopping Is Dead? While the pandemic may have further accelerated the trend towards online shopping, a trio of daring store openings suggest that big brands and multi-brand retailers are relying on a collective desire for hands-on experience. Vacheron Constantin and Bucherer both recently opened multi-story boutiques on New York City’s 57th Street, while Danny Goldsmith, a former watch salesman at Cellini, unveiled a new outpost in Delray Beach, Florida.

Vacheron was the first to knock by opening the doors of its largest flagship in the world this summer, starting with a soft launch for customers by appointment only. The 4,500 square foot space at 28 E. 57th St. officially welcomes the public this month, and there’s plenty to see, including the company’s only permanent collection of its vintage Les Collectionneurs watches, a personalized bracelet bar and soundproof VIP lounge. And only here can you buy one of Vacheron’s ultra-elite and unique Les Cabinotiers watches in store. (If you need a reason to persuade your family to let you in, there is a children’s play store on the second floor.)

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Just steps from 12 E. 57th St., Bucherer uses his own tricks to draw crowds to his sprawling 18,379-square-foot multi-brand giant. (The three-story building housed the Tourneau TimeMachine boutique; Bucherer bought this company in 2018, and the lavish new digs are one of the crowning glory of the merger.) Nearly 40 different brands are on display, with a dedicated watch fair. Certified second hand, three separate bars featuring a selection of Sotheby’s wines and current art exhibitions.

An exclusive Carl F. Bucherer watch from the Bucherer boutique in New York.  - Credit: Carl F. Bucherer

An exclusive Carl F. Bucherer watch from the Bucherer boutique in New York. – Credit: Carl F. Bucherer

Carl F. Bucherer

Two hours by plane south, former New Yorker Danny Goldsmith takes a different approach. Its eponymous Goldsmith & Complications, at 411 E. Atlantic Ave. at Delray Beach, aims to be a go-to supplier of hard-to-find independent watchmakers such as Urwerk and Purnell. Currently, the store is also the exclusive retailer of American luxury watchmaker JN Shapiro. Also on offer: decorative items related to watchmaking, including 30 limited edition pieces by Berd Vay’e, the Brooklyn-based artists known for their Lucite sculptures featuring rare vintage watch components that appear to float in them. structures. Each 17-inch piece of art available here was created in partnership with Chicago Cubs forward Ian Happ and incorporates pieces from his record-breaking bats.

Goldsmith &;  Complications 'Berd Vay' ex Ian Happ limited edition sculpture.  - Credit: Goldsmith & Complications

Limited edition sculpture of Berd Vay’e x Ian Happ from Goldsmith & Complications. – Credit: Goldsmith & Complications

Goldsmith & Complications

Need more proof that brick and mortar is not only not in decline, but may be making a comeback? Think of Watches of Switzerland as the barometer. The largest multi-brand retailer in the US and UK has reported a 17.5% increase in constant currency sales to date, compared to the days before the 2019 pandemic. Its SoHo boutique in July, the entire Rolex shop-in-shop was cleared of watches, with the exception of four solitary Datejust and one Day-Date model. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. If the past year has taught us anything, we should never underestimate the value of human connection.

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