Rolex buys Bucherer: the crowning achievement of independencies

Temps de lecture : 2 minutes

Until Rolex announced its takeover of Bucherer, the brand with the crown had only one boutique in the world, in Geneva, in order to comply with cantonal law allowing it to use the city’s name in its branding. Today, it boasts over 100 points of sale…

By Joël A. Grandjean, JSH® Magazine & Swiss Watch Passport’s Editor in Chief and Publisher
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Between Hans Wilsdorf and Ernst Bucherer, an unshakeable friendship that continues even after death

It’s finally happening, in the heat of summer, as the Swiss watchmaking industry recovers. The announcement came as a bombshell, even if the project’s logic is so unquestionably coherent that it fails to surprise.

In Paris, the Bucherer department store and its "Pre-Owned" corner with JSH on the tables during a very private collectors' breakfast

Post-mortem loyalties, the 3rd brand

Here, after a collaboration so faithful that the production and distribution consanguinity between the two houses has lasted for several decades, is the culmination of a rare human friendship: between Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex and Tudor (a brand registered as early as 1926) and Ernst Bucherer, the representative of the 2nd generation. The two men appreciated each other, and their relationship went beyond business.

Thus, faced with a lack of successors, the 3rd generation Jörg Bucherer handed over his legacy, while keeping the presidency of his eponymous company, to the most reliable of guardians, Rolex. By acquiring this retail network treasure, Rolex suddenly finds itself involved in, and even concerned by, the life and health of all the brands distributed by Bucherer. Indeed, the Lucerne-based company, which remains closely associated with Rolex and Tudor, even if it is also a prestigious watch brand with Carl F. Bucherer (like founder Carl-Friederich), is first and foremost a gigantic multi-brand distributor. And Rolex, as a bonus, gains a foothold in the global jewelry industry.

In Paris, at Bucherer, the area dedicated to "Rolex Certified Pre Owned".

Positive impact on the watchmaking industry

Let’s face it, Rolex is actually good for the sector. And good for other brands, some of them at least. Perhaps because, in order to maintain the enormity of its lead, it has a legitimate interest in the others doing well too. After all, you can only be number one if there are runners-up.

And then, another boon for the sector, Rolex, by leaving Basel to exhibit in Geneva, has swept away in one fell swoop the divisive and tired concept of “Haute-Horlogerie”. A concept that has become obsolete when faced with the number one of the number one watch manufacturers, whose watches already retail for around CHF 10,000 or CHF 2,000 for Tudor models. So suddenly, the SIHH has become “Watches & Wonders”. Finally, the notion of watchmaking excellence, which can also be of an industrial nature, has taken hold, in all its volume implications. And it’s the volumes that save Swiss made over the long term…

In 2024, Rolex will be celebrating a romance with Bucherer that began a hundred years ago and has just turned into a marriage. And let’s just say that the engagement marked the advent of RCPO, the “Rolex Certified Pre Owned” program, at Bucherer. A memorable wedding party is in the offing…

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