A new company called Eleven James is offering a subscription-based service that allows you to "rent" luxury watches just like Netflix. Members elect to receive either three or six watches per year for a period of two months at a time, from a choice of curated Collections (ranging from $10,000 average retail value and upwards). The program allows each Member - ranging from new enthusiasts to established connoisseurs - to experience an array of watches before their next purchase, to revitalize their existing collection, and to enjoy a level of variety on a consistent basis that would be difficult to replicate personally. Seriously, "Fractional Ownership" of a watch? Effectively yes, for as little as $249 per month delivered straight to your door. aBlogtoWatch has tested the service and offers our opinion.
Eleven James CEO Randy Brandoff came up with this idea long before he left NetJets as its Chief Marketing Officer. Eight years ago, he thought about "luxury collaborative consumption" or "an alternative to outright ownership," because he saw Marquis Jet and NetJets give broad access to all the people who wanted to partake, without writing a check for $17 million for a Learjet. Lucia Reisch, a professor of consumer issues at the Copenhagen Business School was recently quoted saying: "Everything that has to do with collaborative consumption is absolutely on the rise." In 2010 the author Rachel Botsman wrote the book "What's Mine Is Yours: the Rise of Collaborative Consumption." Clearly Randy's vision is a global trend and now the concept is being applied to timepieces.
Do you lease a car? Well, that is "fractional ownership," without the "Ownership" part. You get to play with the car for 36 months and give it back, left with nothing but the bill for the turn in fee. You maintained the car in perfect order and Mercedes now can sell it in pristine condition. See where I am going with this? A car lease is the equivalent of going to the Avis counter, giving them a check for the first months payment, a bank fee, and registration fee all before you step foot into the car you are renting. You don't do that when you rent a car for a week so this puts Randy's concept in perspective. I always anger my friends who lease cars with this example, and they fail to even acknowledge my logic!
So, let's look at what you get if you join Eleven James. The basic premise is that you join the club, pay a yearly fee upfront (with a 10% discount) or pay in monthly installments, and get watches on a rotating basis. Currently every rotation is two months. Members choose to have a watch “all the time” which equals six rotations per year, or ''some of the time'' which allows you to have three rotations per year so you can enjoy your own watches (not the ones you rent) as well.
Fun, right? Absolutely. Do you have to pay for service, or worry about depreciation if you tire of the watch? No. What if you want to buy that $22,000 white gold Daytona, but think it might be a tad on the small side? Well, try it, and see! Are you new to the world of Horology? Join the club, and get to know the brands and what you will ultimately choose to purchase. Or, you may find that watch rotations through Eleven James's offer you the perfect way to enjoy your new found interest.
So, What was Randy's first watch crush that might have started this? Well, he had one which many share - the classic stainless steel Royal Oak 15300 with the blue dial. So, why didn't he just buy it? He simply could not justify the price at the time. Now it all makes sense....
And, what's up with the name "Eleven James? Well, Bond... James Bond is the inspiration. Randy thought Bond was the pinnacle of the adventurous elegant gentleman. 007 was always supplied with 11 nifty gadgets, by agent Q. So "Eleven James" is a reference to the gadgets of Bond, and the watches that can lead to adventure.