In 2016, independent watchmaker Linde Werdelin took the decision to start buying and selling its own pre-owned watches. In a column for WatchPro, the company’s founder and chief executive Jorn Werdelin, explains why and what he has learned since then as the market has evolved.
We launched Pre Owned or Vintage, as we called it then, back in May 2016. The reasoning behind that decision – which then was quite controversial in the industry – was that we kept on receiving requests as to the authenticity and pricing from potential clients about pre owned watches they were considering buying from pre owned platforms.
We also felt that our business was changing into being more customer centric and that instead of just focusing on selling new watches to new customers we wanted to serve new and existing customers more completely by being involved throughout their life with an LW – even when selling it.
We have always limited the production of our series – trying to make 1 less than the demand – but with wholesale that was difficult; now with direct and made to order we can manage it 100% and that gives us assurance that the second hand market is healthy.
The growth and acceptance of the pre owned market partly came about because of too high prices for new pieces. The high prices were caused by too much inbuilt cost in the chain between production and end consumer as well as an overvalued Swiss Franc. The other important factor was the growth of online/off line pre owned players supported by an increasing view that pre owned is accepted and indeed encouraged by end consumers. It is a part of trends towards value vs. price; and sustainability.
We initially did an analysis of historical pre-owned prices which we knew about as well as studying what pieces were offered at by third parties and we found that the market was generally healthy – with even some of the older pieces selling for significantly more than they were sold at originally. Many series we never see which is also a good sign.
Three and a half years later with resale platforms, a pivot towards vintage, rental of fashion and sustainability ever present it seems to be such an evident thing to do and I believe all brands will have to do it to reassure customers that the brand is being managed in a healthy and sustainable fashion.
In pre=owned we assess the market price for each watch and offer authenticity plus 12 months guarantee and if needed a complete service. It saves time for the customer selling and gives the buyer assurance as to authenticity and quality.
By getting involved in pre-owned we have taken responsibility for all the watches we have ever made (about 5,000) since we started in 2006, and I think our clients deserve that.
It is also an opportunity for a maybe slightly younger customer with a more limited budget to enter into the LW universe.