It’s hardly a stretch to say the pre-owned watch market is a weird, mythical place in the eyes of most watch companies. They are sort of aware it’s out there, but they also seemingly have no interest / courage / idea (choose one… or three) on how to address it. There are a number of good reasons for that, as it truly is a slippery slope for them, littered with imminent perils imposed by the threat of product cannibalization, incorrect value assessment, customer service issues, and so and so forth. Linde Werdelin took a brave pill and went on to create “LW Vintage“, the brand’s own curated watch market for pre-owned watches that launched just today.
This online platform will allow existing and future Linde Werdelin customers to sell or shop for pre-owned Linde Werdelin timepieces. While that may sound a simple enough feat, LW did have to take all those aforementioned (and more) issues into consideration. We got on a quick call with one of the founders, Jorn Werdelin, to discuss how exactly this new platform will work and what issues they had to account for when planning it.
Since they got started in 2006, Linde Werdelin say they have produced a total of about 4,500 watches, a large portion of which were sold direct to the customer – and while ten years in business is respectable for a completely new brand like LW, it could be argued that it does not entirely justify the “Vintage” designation in the watch industry, where vintage timepieces are generally considered to be a fair bit older than that.
Anyhow, while many of these watches will remain in the same collection they originally landed in, others will be offered up for sale again on the secondary market. The inspiration behind LW Vintage was to offer a service that would make it possible for Linde Werdelin owners to have their pre-owned watches sold via the brand itself, either on consignment or by having them take the watch back and put its pre-owned value towards a next purchase.
Here’s how it will work. Linde Werdelin will, in all cases, take delivery of the watches in their HQ, authenticate them, perform a service, and replace the strap if that is required (which it will be on watches a number of years old, but not necessarily on ones that are more recent purchases), provide a letter of authenticity, and add an additional 24 month factory warranty. When these are done, the watch is offered for sale on their LW Vintage page where, after the purchase, the brand will conduct the shipping and payment procedures between buyer and seller, allowing for a safe transaction.
For these services Linde Werdelin will quote a fee to the seller on an individual basis – which will be more on watches that required a full service and were out of their warranty period, and less for timepieces that are still under warranty, required no service where only the authentication and transaction procedures have to be handled. When asked about the details of the service the watches receive before they go up for sale, Jorn told us that they will service the movement and replace the strap (again, only when this is necessary), but he is strongly against refinishing the case, because of their complex, faceted designs – and also to maintain the original condition and patina.
While both the seller and buyer can enjoy a safe buying and selling experience, there is a threat for the brand to consider, and that is the potential cannibalization of their full-priced watches. If you think about it, this brand-run platform will allow the buyer to get the full brand experience as he or she is getting a guaranteed authentic, factory serviced watch that is topped off with an additional factory warranty for 2 years, all for considerably less than the retail price – albeit arguably at some premium over what the watches may be offered for elsewhere on the pre-owned market.
The relative competitiveness of this aforementioned factory pre-owned package has to be one of the (numerous) major issues that have kept others away from venturing into this territory. Whether or not this will hurt retail sales is something Linde Werdelin will have to see for themselves.
With that noted, it is worth pointing out that the concept of “certified pre-owned” is not all new, as it has been around in the car industry for ages – and it is something that seems to be working well for them. After all, you can pretty much always take your premium car back to the official dealer you bought it from and have it put towards a new purchase. Generally speaking, the depreciation, as well as the importance (to some buyers at least) of a brand certification and additional factory warranty is very much comparable between luxury cars and timepieces.
LW Vintage is a very interesting initiative as its level of success will certainly have an effect on how other independents – and maybe, just maybe, later on the bigger brands – approach the sensitive issue of factory certified pre-owned watches. lindewerdelin.com