ReLuxury Rising to the Challenge
The first fair dedicated exclusively to the highly relevant topic of pre-owned luxury was a resounding success. We’ll no doubt see some copycat events springing up, and perhaps even Rolex might make an appearance in 2023?
The ReLuxury fair, which opened in Geneva at the beginning of November, at the same time as several watch auctions and the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève exhibition, appears to have been a unanimous hit – among visitors, collectors and industry professionals, as well as among the exhibitors themselves. Founder Fabienne Lupo (previously director of the SIHH for 15 years) brought together all the ingredients for a successful event based around second-hand luxury: a wide variety of prestigious exhibitors (Iconeek, ID Genève, Richard Mille, YSL Vintage, Zenith), high-quality exhibits (largely certified pre-owned branded jewellery, watches and leather goods), services and suppliers connected with the circular economy, restoration and authentication, a conference area with around 50 speakers and panellists, whose discussions were broadcast online, a practical and well-appointed venue (the Hotel President Wilson), and visiting times for casual buyers and collectors. According to the organisers, almost 4,000 visitors attended between 4 and 7 November.
Fabienne Lupo © ReLuxury
This is how Fabienne Lupo summed up the event: “Pre-loved luxury items finally have their own fair! It’s a topic that’s relevant to everyone, and it used to be somewhat taboo, both with clients and with brands. It’s important to be able to position these luxury items as high-quality collectors’ items, which can be repaired and passed on.” Industry giant Rolex has just announced its own CPO (certified pre-owned) programme, initially in partnership with Bucherer, ushering in a new golden age for certain retailers (online retailers are excluded from the programme). The sector seems to be entering a different league. What are the main takeaways?
Richard Mille is a believer
In the centre of the main exhibition area, Richard Mille’s minimalist 360° booth featured four display cases arranged around a generous reception area. We met Alexandre Mille (representing the second generation of the family business), who had come to support Fabienne Lupo, and brand CEO Tim Malachard, who said: “Richard Mille launched its CPO ten years ago in Singapore, but our scheduled opening in Geneva next spring will mark the first time we’ve had CPO boutiques on four continents, and we’ll be bringing all our sales staff into this sector.” For a brand that has not attended any watch fairs for four years, this gives some indication of both the strategic importance of the second-hand market, and the extent of the support and goodwill towards the event’s organiser.
Alexandre Mille © Reluxury
As an exhibitor and sponsor of ReLuxury, the ORIGYN Foundation played a central role. Chief Commercial Officer Arnaud Grobet was pleased to note, “Unusually, for Geneva, there was no criticism – only positive comments! All the exhibitors and visitors acknowledged the relevance of the theme, the organisation, its size, the dialogue – I really think Fabienne Lupo has pulled off a grand slam.” As far as the significance of Origyn’s presence at ReLuxury was concerned, he explained that it was important for his foundation to be able to present its technology and solutions for the certification and authentication of luxury products. “These four days gave us the opportunity to show in real time that our image capture technology exists and works effectively and simply, and to offer our protocol to new users, while supporting other exhibiting companies such as Watchbox, which has already adopted it.” Arnaud Grobet ventured to suggest that it might be a good idea to combine ReLuxury with the Luxury Innovation Summit, which took place two weeks earlier, and which Origyn also partnered. “I feel these two initiatives are complementary. Why not hold them at the same time, and strengthen Geneva’s position in the luxury space?”
Formalising the second-hand market
For Maximilien Urso, CEO of Cresus, France’s leading second-hand watch retailer, ReLuxury marks the first step in a communications strategy for Switzerland. “ReLuxury shows in a concrete way that second-hand is part of the watch market, in all its diversity, because the participants aren’t always at the same level. Exhibitors such as Richard Mille and Zenith prove that we are all trustworthy participants, and second-hand buyers always need this kind of reassurance. Cresus has been around for 30 years in France, and even today we get people coming in the door, asking us how we got hold of our Rolexes, for example. Here, we can meet very knowledgeable collectors, some of whom have travelled a long way, with million-dollar watches on their wrists, as well as others who have just discovered this market and are still unsure. We’re laying the ground work. People can buy second-hand as well as new, but from serious vendors such as Rolex or more niche brands, whose products are certified.” With stores in Lyon and Paris, Cresus is beginning to make a name among Swiss customers as a second-hand retailer that has partnerships with major brands including Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega and TAG Heuer. “We have all the tools and official parts, and our watchmakers have the authorisation and the skills to repair them in our workshops, as we have explained here.” He concludes: “It’s still an informal sector, and ReLuxury and its exhibitors are helping to formalise it.”
Zenith © ReLuxury
While Fabienne Lupo is preparing for the second edition with the event’s partners, as well as with the exhibitors who placed their trust in her initially, observers are looking forward to seeing collectible cars and antique furniture next November in Geneva. And why not subsequently in London, New York or Dubai? “I like the idea of encouraging customers to make more sustainable purchases that are more respectful of our planet’s resources, while at the same time taking pleasure in finding rare and unusual items.” As partners from the outset, GMT and WorldTempus like that idea too.
Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme...Find out more >
Ever since it was founded, Zenith has been cultivating the ability to open up new horizons by assisting with some of the most remarkable human achievements.Find out more >