The 2008-9 financial meltdown knocked the stuffing out of the American watch market, and triggered a grey market epidemic that turned a short term drama into a decade-long crisis.
But acquisitions of Mayors by The Watches of Switzerland Group and Tourneau and Baron & Leeds by Bucherer have brought a flood of private equity and European money into the market and sparked an era of investment that could reshape the competitive landscape and re-establish the USA as the world’s biggest and most vibrant market in the world for Swiss timepieces.
Planting its flag in America was crucial to The Watches of Switzerland Group going public earlier this year, because it showed potential investors a path to considerable growth in a market outside the more saturated UK.
Bucherer has been slow to get its upgrade programme motoring in the US, in part because of the complexities of renovating its flagship Time Machine Tourneau showroom at the base of Trump Tower in Manhattan (imagine blasting through concrete at the base of a building where the President is in residence), but The Watches of Switzerland Group has wasted no time in opening new stores in New York, Las Vegas and Boston and is now racing through renovations for the Mayors portfolio in Florida and Georgia.
A month ago it reopened the first of the remodeled Mayors, at Merrick Park, an upscale outdoor shopping mall in Coral Gables, Greater Miami, Florida.
It followed up last week by cutting the ribbon on an Audemars Piguet boutique in Atlanta.
Today it has unveiled another Mayors refurbishment in the same Lenox Square shopping mall in Atlanta.
Anchored by Rolex, which has its own shop in shop with a separate entrance, the showroom also has space for Mayors Bridal and High Jewellery lines along with Omega and a multibrand watch area.
An airy style is set with marble flooring, pale gray carpeting, and white plaster walls and ceilings.
“As we invest in transforming the retail spaces of Mayors, our goal is to continue developing a loyal customer base and providing impeccable customer experience and one-of-a-kind hospitality. The intention is to create a welcoming and accessible store for our customers. That said, we adapt to the environment and the brand proposition for each location and market,” said David Hurley, who heads the North American operation as executive vice-president of The Watches of Switzerland Group.