Independent watchmaker MB&F, recently announced its entry into the somewhat murky waters of certified pre-owned watches. Known across the world for their exceptionally complex and often mind-boggling watches and horological machines, MB&F is the latest in a very rarified group of luxury watchmakers to embrace the pre-owned trend.
The idea of purchasing a luxury watch that is not easily available from the brand, one that is no longer in production, or simply one that is available at a more reasonable price is a very tempting one, and unsurprisingly has led to a flourishing global market for pre-owned watches.
While an entire world of certified pre-owned luxury watches has existed for decades, with authorized dealers and retailers leading the charge, most luxury watchmakers have steered clear of the idea of dealing in pre-owned watches or engaging in a ‘second-hand’ market, believing that it would negatively affect brand image and exclusivity of their products
Despite the popularity of pre-owned luxury watches, and the emergence of legitimate e-commerce platforms that specialize in the resale of certified pre-owned timepiece, it would be only natural to wonder about the provenance of a watch purchased as ‘pre-owned’. Questions such as whether it is in proper working condition, or covered by a valid warranty, or even if it has been acquired by dubious means such as fraud or theft are sure to creep in to the minds of even the most careful customer.
With MB&F’s announcement, and the launch of a special certified pre-owned section on the brand’s website, it appears that watchmakers are also realizing the value of the pre-owned watch market.
It is necessary here, to shed some light on just how MB&F proposes to run their certified pre-owned division, and it is almost undeniable that there will be a certain amount of debate on their methods. The brand will purchase hard to find and no-longer-in-production pieces and offer them for sale on their website and virtually no profit. The pieces will be limited to those timepieces no longer readily available for retail purchase, in order to avoid any conflict with the brand’s retailers. The pre-owned watches will be covered by an unconditional warranty, refurbished entirely by the brand itself and shipped anywhere in the world at no additional cost.
MB&F is not the first luxury watch brand to launch their own certified pre-owned business, and we can be pretty certain that they won’t be the last. In 2016, Geneva-based F.P Journe started their ‘Patrimoine’ service, offering consumers the chance to purchase certified pre-owned F.P Journe timepieces directly from the brand.
Even Audemars Piguet, one of the world’s largest horological maisons indicated their interest in entering the certified pre-owned watch market earlier this year, but no specific date has been announced.
Amongst other brands considering the certified pre-owned space as a viable business model are H. Moser & Cie, headed by Edouard Meylan. Jean-Claude Biver, head of the LVMH Luxury Watch Division and CEO of TAG Heuer and Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of German watchmaking powerhouse A. Lange & Söhne have also hinted at their brand’s potential entry into the world of certified pre-owned watches.
There is no denying that there is in fact a thriving global marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches, with millennials and younger buyers keen to purchase pre-owned watches rather than new ones, and also with buyers and collectors often looking to upgrade their existing collections by trading in older, or less worn watches for newer, more sought after pieces.
The success of MB&F’s new certified pre-owned venture remains to be seen, but if the longevity of the existing market for pre-owned timepieces is any indication, we can be certain that it will go from strength to strength!
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