Rolex Just Bought Bucherer, the World’s Biggest Watch Retailer

If the watch industry was snoozing through the dog days of summer, Rolex just woke it up.

On Thursday, the Swiss watchmaker announced that it had agreed to purchase Bucherer, the international watch and jewelry retailer that owns over 100 stores in Switzerland, the United States, England, Germany, France, Denmark, and Austria. The announcement caught the horological world by surprise—after all, lots of the European business community is on vacation this month, and the biggest news in this industry generally gets shared during a few tentpole events.

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In a statement shared with Robb Report, Rolex said that it made the decision to buy the Bucherer business from its 87-year-old chairman, Jorg Bucherer, who’s selling because he has no direct descendants to leave the company to. (He’s the third generation of the Bucherer family to run the business, and the last living person known to have worked with Hans Wilsdorf, who founded the company that would become Rolex in 1905.)

Bucherer’s stores have been Rolex authorized dealers for nearly a century, since 1924. Over that time, Rolex has become the world’s leading watch brand, and Bucherer has transformed into the world’s biggest watch retailer. In 2018, Bucherer acquired Tourneau, an American multibrand retailer offering both new and certified pre-owned watches.

“The Rolex group is convinced that this acquisition is the best solution not only for its own brands but also for all the watch and jewelry partner brands, as well as for all the employees of the Bucherer group,” Rolex says in a statement.

Acquisitions inevitably change business, but for now, Rolex says that “Bucherer will keep its name and continue to independently run its business.” The watchmaker also makes clear that it will continue to work with other companies that sell Rolex wares. “The fruitful collaboration between Rolex and the other official retailers in its sales network will remain unchanged,” the statement continues.

The announcement is not the only major news the Crown has shared this year. In May, Rolex brought its Certified Pre-Owned program to the United States after launching it in Europe. Bucherer, naturally, is one of the program’s participating retailers.

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