Rolex Buys Bucherer - Good Move or Misstep from the Crown?

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Rolex has purchased the 135-year-old retailer, Bucherer, for an undisclosed but, I can only imagine, gigantic sum of money.

In a completely boss, 90s Wall Street, move. Rolex has purchased the 135-year-old retailer, Bucherer, for an undisclosed but, I can only imagine, gigantic sum of money.

This comes after a multi decade relationship between the two companies. Hans Wilsdorf himself entered into a partnership with Ernst Bucherer in 1924, way before Mr Wilsdorf had the reputation he has today. The crown was hardly on the map yet. Bucherer took a chance on Rolex, and it paid off, literally.

Jörg G. Bucherer, the current owner of the company, doesn’t, as far as I know, have any suitable heirs and I suspect that he wanted his family legacy to be taken care of. Who better to do it than Rolex, the best run company on the planet.

Jörg G. Bucherer,

This story will no doubt be done to death, and it should be, it’s a big deal in an otherwise boring and repetitive industry. But I thought I would share my thoughts on the sale. After letting, it marinate for a few days, of course.

Who will actually own Bucherer, and will they pay tax?

Rolex is owned and managed by The Hans Wilsdorf foundation, a registered charity operating out of Carouge, Switzerland. Along with their philanthropic undertakings as a charity, I would assume they wouldn’t be required to pay any corporate income tax. This is a pretty smart business move and one that ruffles some feathers depending on how you look at it.
But the question here is, will The Hans Wilsdorf foundation own Bucherer. And will they cease to pay tax in Switzerland?
This is obviously an oversimplification of the Swiss tax system, and we may never know the structure of the sale, but it’s an interesting thought.

Rolex will have Increased visibility over other brands

Bucherer sells a multitude of brands apart from Rolex and Tudor, so the visibly they will have into the operations of other brands is going to increase dramatically.
As far as I’m aware, this is the first time a brand has owned the boutique that sells it’s competitors. They say that Bucherer will retain its operational independence, but I’m sure there will be changes to the way they do things. Reporting to the head office in Geneva, for example. How they will manage this conflict of interest will be a point to keep an eye on.

They will own Carl F. Bucherer (the watch brand)

Joining Tudor as another brand owned by Rolex is Carl F. Bucherer. The brand was launched in 2001 to solidify the families watchmaking heritage and makes some intriguing watches today.
Pricing wise, they are similar to Rolex, but I can’t see there being any internal competition in sales here.
The only thing I would be interested to see is how they use Rolex’s resources to help Carl F. Bucherer. Perhaps there will be some movement or technology sharing.
In fact, their Manero chronograph has the perfect dial layout to adopt the Tudor MT5813 movement. Let’s see what happens!

The Manero Chronograph from Carl F. Bucherer

There has been so much press over the last few days and the speculation has been endless. But I think the most interesting aspect of the sale is that Rolex, for the first time in recent history, will own their distribution. They are taking their vertical integration to the next level, managing everything from raw material to the final sale to the customer. I’ve seen first hand how much money ADs pull in, it only makes sense that Rolex wants a piece of that pie too.

Long live the crown.

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