May 8, 2016
by Mark Carson
Welcome back to an aBlogtoWatch original series, where we discuss important stores that sell watches all over the world. Each store we profile has an interesting story to tell about where they operate and who they sell to. Whether you buy watches from brick and mortar retailers or prefer to buy watches online, these are the stores that help shape our watch culture around the globe. There is a long list of stores to cover, but if there is a retail location in your favorite city that we simply can’t miss, let us know in the comments below. Here is a map of stores we have covered so far.
While we love big watch stores with their elaborate displays and numerous brands being offered, there is a definite charm to smaller watch boutiques where personal service and a concierge approach to watch buying is king. Today, we journey about half-an-hour northeast of London to England’s Essex county and to the town of Buckhurst Hill, in particular, where Jake Martin operates Luxe Watches.
The Essex boutique is their base, but they operate on a global scale with both an international customer database and a trusted network of global watch brokers. They have been working as Luxe Watches since 2011. This involves buying, selling, and trading pre-owned watches to both retail and trade customers. Originally office-based, they launched their web presence in 2012 and opened their store-front boutique in 2013. Plans include expanding their retail operations to include an onsite watch repair workshop. They recently began offering financing to their customers.aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): What types of watches are popular in your market? What makes Essex a unique place to buy watches?
Luxe Watches: Essex is known for its style, and our customers are extremely discerning with regards to watches. Some are after a first-time investment piece, some after more on-trend fashion styles to add to a collection. There is a lot of wealth in Essex, and our customers know what they want whether that be a limited edition Richard Mille that we have to spend time sourcing or a classic Rolex or Cartier for every day wear – every customer is different. A number of our customers want to buy from us as they know they can upgrade next year if they want to use our buyback guarantee without loosing any value. Essex customers are definitely unique in the way they shop for luxury items and are always ahead of the game.
ABTW: What would you tell watch lovers in other cities about the tastes of watch lovers in Essex?
Luxe Watches: Some popular models are the Rolex Sky-Dweller and the Rolex Submariner – classics for day and night. Also the “wow” pieces like Richard Mille watches and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore are very popular.
ABTW: Do you serve mostly locals or tourists, or is it a good mix? Also, what percentage of your customers would you call “knowledgeable watch collectors?”
Luxe Watches: The vast majority of customers that come into our boutique, or the “passing trade,” are locals. A lot of the customers we have are return customers, so they often come in with some prior warning or just come in to say hello and see what we have in stock. As mentioned earlier, our online work allows us to reach all parts of the globe, so we are often in contact with people from different nationalities including tourists. About 99% of customers have a good knowledge of luxury watches – it’s a big purchase, it’s really personal, and our clients have done their homework, so we just make sure we have access to anything anyone is asking after.
ABTW: What is Essex best known for? What do visitors have to do, see, or eat while there?
Luxe Watches: Essex is very good for shopping and its nightlife. It is also a very well connected area, so getting into London takes around 30 minutes. You get the best of both worlds with Essex, as it isn’t built up and could be considered rural, however is close to the hustle and bustle of London. For history buffs, there are many castles and landmarks to explore in Essex. There are also adventure parks, zoos, safaris, and beaches for the family.
ABTW: As a business, do you sponsor or participate in any local events, watch-related or otherwise?
Luxe Watches: At the start of the year, one of our goals was to get out there and attend as many events as possible. Over the past couple of years, we have always attended watch related events like SalonQP and Baselworld (and intend to continue this), so we thought we might diversify into events that aren’t watch-related. So far this year, we have exhibited at The London Classic Car Show, where we met loads of motorheads and were very pleased to get the reception from these people that we did, being the only watch company there. We also look to attend the Monaco Grand Prix and Goodwood Festival of Speed later on in the year. It’s always great to meet people who are interested in watches and to educate them on the industry face to face.
ABTW: What are some of the watch brands you are known for carrying? If you could pick a watch brand or model that epitomizes the culture or style of Essex, what would it be?
Luxe Watches: We are quite well-known for the limited-edition, harder-to-find pieces that we stock. Often, we will have Richard Mille watches that are very rare, as well as some Audemars Piguet models. We were the first retailer in Europe to stock the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Michael Schumacher Laptimer, for example. The model that would epitomize Essex would probably be the Patek Philippe Nautilus, as it has that sporty look but is also classy and very sought-after. luxewatches.co.uk