WatchPro by Rob Corder | September 2, 2021
Bucherer finally has its name above the door in the United States.
Three years after acquiring Tourneau in 2018, the refurbishment of the Manhattan Time Machine flagship has been completed and wide-eyed customers are being welcomed into the 19,000 square foot, three story emporium.
Tourneau Time Machine was closed for over 18 months for the renovation, which faced challenges ranging from the pandemic to operating at the base of Trump Tower where, when the former president was in residence, protesters would routinely jam the sidewalks around the building.
The mood is triumphant that the showroom is finally open, and the transformation from Tourneau to Bucherer in the United States is visibly underway.
It will take several more years for all of Tourneau’s 30 store network to be converted to Bucherer. The next reopening will be in Las Vegas.
The Time Machine project is demonstrating the political power that Bucherer brings from Switzerland, where it was founded in 1888.
While many retailers succumb to pressure from the biggest watch companies and install a cacophony of colorful branded furniture in their stores, Bucherer has persuaded the industry to embrace a much more cohesive and attractive style where hospitality is at the heart of every design decision.
MBH Architects were the lead [Architects] on the project.
Bucherer says it worked closely with all of its 40 partners on the new design concept that is the very antithesis of stores that are divided up into branded areas.
New York’s love of art deco is perfectly aligned with Bucherer’s world-wide taste, so bronze, glass, bespoke chandeliers, marble, wood paneling, parquet floors and plush carpeting dominate the store.
Brands have their own spaces and their logos are prominently displayed. But there is none of the usual Cartier and Omega red clashing with the green of Rolex or yellow of Breitling.
It is much more like a 5-star hotel, where every design decision has been made by an overarching presiding intelligence.
It is hard to spot where the hospitality ends and the selling starts. Watches might be presented at one of three bars (one on each floor) or one of the lavish seating areas. Fine wine is provided through a partnership with Sotheby’s, which should make the many events planned in the showroom must-attend parties.
The old Time Machine could be gloomy, particularly on the lower floor where the less expensive brands were crammed together, but the new Bucherer is bathed in natural light and open plan space.
Reducing the number of brands from well over 100 to 40 was a crucial piece of editing to make the strategy work.
Bucherer Fine Jewellery is given its rightful prominence for the first time in America, and this contributes to the experience feeling a great deal less masculine than at the old Time Machine.
There are also regularly rotating art installations and an open workshop area where people can see their watches being serviced and repaired.
Another first is the presentation of Bucherer BLUE watches. These are special pieces created by dozens of watch brands that are exclusive to Bucherer, and all use blue materials in some way.
Eight new BLUE watches are making their debut at the flagship, two of which are exclusively for the US market.
There is even a Bucherer BLUE Harley Davidson in the store, created in collaboration with Carl F. Bucherer, the retailer’s own watch brand.
Pre-owned watches have always played an important role at Tourneau, and Bucherer has learned from its experience.
In the new Time Machine, there is a large lounge dedicated to CPO, and a number of exceptional watches have been held back for displaying at the grand opening.
“Tourneau has always made us proud since we acquired the company in early 2018.” says Guido Zumbühl, CEO of Bucherer Group.
“With one common goal in mind — pleasing and surprising our customers — we have planned the new flagship Boutique in a way to take visitors through an engaging and lively experience. The idea is to showcase the fascinating universe of watches and luxury jewelry in a hybrid atmosphere that is unlike anything anyway in the world. This truly unique boutique marks the fusion of our companies, becoming finally one under the Bucherer brand.”
Ira Melnitsky, CEO of Tourneau LLC and now president of Bucherer USA, says that the creation of the new showroom has been one of the best experiences of his career.
“Our heart and soul is in New York City. This is our flagship and it is the engine that drives the car,” he says.
“This is one of the most exciting accomplishments of my career without question. The entire store is intended to be a careful curation from start to finish. We couldn’t have done it either without the support of all of our brand partners and our parent company in Switzerland.”
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