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Online shopping isn't really my thing. Yes, I do buy some stuff, but most often it's things I don't need to touch, carefully inspect or try on. That's why I was happy to read the news about the opening of Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine flagship store in New York.

Not because I’m a client of this retail chain or a frequent visitor in New York City, but because the Beucherer company managed to achieve something that has never been done before. And quite possibly it did so in the worst possible time, when online platforms selling pre-owned watches are gaining momentum and some watch brands are beginning to act on their own, excluding the retailers.

Anyone who travels the world and takes interest in watches surely recognises the Swiss chain of Bucherer boutiques and American Tourneau stores, namely the largest retailer offering luxury watches in the United States. I’ve got plenty of fond memories of Bucherer. In the beginning of my adventure in the watch industry, the Bucherer store on famous Rue du Rhône was one of the first places I visited during my visit to Geneva. Back then I felt like I was in paradise.

I also remember  my friends’ delight after their first visit to New York City a dozen or so years ago. Upon their return, they shared their impressions after visiting a monumental Tourneau TimeMachine boutique in Manhattan. They were dazzled not only by vast space, but also the gorgeous façade adorned with watches showing the time in various time zones. In 1997, with area of 1,700 square meters, Tourneau TimeMachine was world’s largest watch boutique and it quickly became an inseparable synonym of New York, such as the Statue of Liberty or the Brooklyn Bridge. I am using past tense as in 2018 the whole Tourneau chain (in all, 28 flagship stores across the United States) was purchased by Bucherer, a family-run Swiss company. Until recently, it wasn’t apparent what the acquired stores would look like. For Bucherer, the easiest solution would be to transfer ideas implemented in European boutiques, such as those on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich or Rue du Rhône in Geneva. But Bucherer’s management did not take the easy way out. Respect for taking that risk!

Opened in September, the Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine New York flagship symbolizes the new beginning: it doesn’t resemble watch boutiques we all know. The representatives of brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Cartier had nothing to say regarding its interior design. Absent is brand furniture arranged according to their precise instruction and traditional watches where watches are presented are nowhere to be seen. In Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine the client can relax on a comfortable sofa or order a drink at one of the dazzling bars (each of tree floors features a bar) and feel like they were in a luxurious penthouse of their affluent friends. Now they can consider themselves to be a guest invited to a party. Not like one of many customers visiting a boutique.

I’ve got no idea whose idea it was and how the Bucherer management succeeded in convincing the bosses of forty brands (especially those that like to dictate terms, namely Rolex and Patek Philippe) but the credit should be given when its due. In my opinion Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine is perfection. There’s everything clients long for: a luxurious interior that doesn’t resemble a museum with glass-cases filled with exhibits. Discretely separated zones facilitate casual conversations and meetings between people sharing common interests. Moreover, thanks to the open space every visitor can observe watchmakers at work as they maintain and repair watches. That’s a real treat for every watch aficionado.

In the past, the department dealing with sales of pre-owned watches was a significant part of Tourneau TimeMachine. Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine will keep up this wonderful tradition.

I assume that just like it used to be, this place will also become a must-visit place during a trip to New York City. And maybe the success of Bucherer 1888 TimeMachine boutique will lift up other retailers.

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