Two historic brands in the watch industry have now become partners. Iconic Swiss watchmaker Rolex has recently acquired Bucherer, one of the world’s largest watch retailers. The announcement of this landmark acquisition has surprised the horological world. Apart from a single Rolex-owned brand boutique in Geneva, where the company is headquartered, Rolex has previously maintained a public business distance from its array of loyal watch retailer partners.
The acquisition brings Bucherer’s network of over 100 stores in Switzerland, the United States, England, Germany, France, Denmark and Austria – alongside the Carl F. Bucherer brand – under the Crown’s roof. The international multi-brand retailer has been undergoing a major expansion in the U.S. market, which also saw the recent reopening of the TimeDome in Las Vegas, the largest watch retail store in North America. Bucherer has more than 100 sales outlets worldwide, 53 of which distribute the Rolex brand and 48 distribute the Tudor brand, Rolex’s sister company.
In a statement, Rolex has stated that Bucherer will retain its name and continue to operate as an independent company. Luxury watchmaker Rolex has explained that the move came when Bucherer chairman Jorg Bucherer, the third generation leader of the family-owned company in the absence of direct descendants, was considering selling the company. After an extensive career, the 87-year-old chairman is also the last living person known to have worked with Hans Wilsdorf, who established the company that would become Rolex in 1905.
“This move reflects the Geneva-based brand’s desire to perpetuate the success of Bucherer and preserve the close partnership ties that have linked both companies since 1924”, Rolex explained in their official statement.
There has always been a long-standing working relationship between the two brands and this merger aims to solidify and strengthen the industry-leading names. Bucherer’s stores have been Rolex-authorised dealers since 1924. Over this time, Rolex has evolved into the world’s leading watch brand, with Bucherer also transforming into the globe’s largest watch retailer. In 2018, Bucherer acquired Tourneau, an American multibrand retailer providing new and certified pre-owned watches.
Rolex describes how “this acquisition is the best solution not only for its own brands but also for all the watch and jewellery partner brands, as well as for all the employees of the Burcher group”.
Bucherer will continue to run independently and Rolex has specified that the watchmaker will continue to work with other companies that trade Rolex goods. “The fruitful collaboration between Rolex and the other official retailers in its sales network will remain changed”, the statement clarifies.
The announcement of this acquisition is not the only major change the brand has shared this year. In May, Rolex introduced its Certified Pre-Owned program in the United States after a successful launch in Europe; this allows customers to purchase a pre-owned watch where they will then receive a certificate of authenticity, a new, two-year warranty card and a coveted Rolex ‘wax seal’ tag. Bucherer is also one of the program’s main participating retailers.
The acquisition will continue to strengthen Rolex’s position as a top-performing brand in luxury watches and the move is predicted to bring further consolidation in luxury watch retail.