BREAKING: JC Biver: As of 2018 we (LVMH) will sell our watches via e-commerce!

Mar 03, 2016,07:39 AM

With this statement the head of the luxury watch devision at LMVH breaks the borders to a potentially seismic shift in watch retail: while until now luxury watches are almost exclusively, sold through an (exclusive) network of retailers and brand-(owned or operated) boutiques, the LVMH group will as a first of the big conglomerates completely shake up the way timepieces are sold: LVMH will set up its own watch e-commerce platform.

Main stumbling block so far are the agreements with the brand retailers which guarantee them exclusive distribution rights. These agreements, says Biver, need to phase out first before the e-commerce platform could become reality.

It is with noting that LVMH already tested the water with Zenith's partnership with the retail portal 'Mr. Porter'.

More as I learn additional details.


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Thanks for the heads-up Magnus.

 By: Mark in Paris : March 3rd, 2016-07:49
In a way I like the experience of buying in a shop, coming back, trying several times and then make the purchase. Especially as I like "connecting" with the seller. If I don't then I usually don't buy. Anyway, this platform implementation doesn't mean cli... 

This is a very bad development for us as customers

 By: Arie - Mr Orange : March 3rd, 2016-08:23
First the this.... bad bad bad We are much better of being served by independent retailers. We should all try to only buy at independent retailers. Otherwise we will pay premium plus for everything in a few years...

This is right.

 By: Mark in Paris : March 3rd, 2016-08:47
I was talking more about the physical outlets versus e-commerce but you're right, a completely integrated network isn't a good way to get free competition between sellers, hence higher prices. However, I don't see every range of watchmaking brands (especi... 

well....if the watches will be 40% cheaper I will order online no doubt

 By: Arie - Mr Orange : March 3rd, 2016-08:18
But if nothing mayor happens price wise why would I?

+1. Not for me. [nt]

 By: amanico : March 3rd, 2016-11:04

Thanks for the info!

 By: KMII : March 3rd, 2016-08:36
It is perhaps not desired by everyone but it is fairly inevitable. IIRC Chopard is already selling watches online in the UK - not sure what their experience has been so far...


 By: gmark2800 : March 3rd, 2016-08:55
A lot of brands(ie JLC, IWC) allow you to order watches listed on their website. How is Mr Biver's idea going to be different? It sounds like he is just going to partner with internet based companies.

'white glove' versus "no-glove" online selling

 By: Tonneau1 : March 3rd, 2016-10:38
I believe this CAN work, and may work well for the consumer as well. Remember that one of the reasons to go to a dealer, is the 'white glove' attention and treatment you get: pleasant conversation, that cup of espresso and a warm handshake, trying on the ... 

This is a good and bad thing.

 By: Mitch K : March 3rd, 2016-12:02
Certainly for the retailers this will be a very bad development. It will be damaging to the retailers. Either the retailers will be marginalized or cut out totally. The boutiques have cut out retailers from the supply line or decreased supplies to them an... 

Great news...

 By: ztirual : March 3rd, 2016-12:08
This widens the gap between bland brands and the independants. Best, Z'


 By: FinnishFlash : March 3rd, 2016-14:09
I am more than happy to deal directly with the manufacturer. ADs are nowadays too expensive middle men.

I've just travelled hundreds of miles in the USA with no real watch shops in sight

 By: MTF : March 3rd, 2016-16:01
This may be a good thing for some people. Unlike the village that is Western Europe or developed countries in Asia, where concentrations of watch retailers abound and none is more than 10 miles from the next, some countries are not like that. London (popu... 

I understand what you are saying but this platform does not necessarily change the fact that there is a wealth of information on line now about most brands. This doesn't necessarily change that dynamic.

 By: Mitch K : March 4th, 2016-11:24
I still think that it is a play to cut out the middle man, the retailer, and avoid the cost that the might add to the watch vs the company keeping all of the profits for themselves and further controlling the market. It is a boutique in the current intern... 

perhaps, but...

 By: Tonneau1 : March 4th, 2016-16:53
I think it's fair to say that the nature of the Internet has been to push consumer prices down, all things considered. If buyers of premium watches feel like not only are they not getting the service of a dealer, and paying just as much to a 'faceless' co... 

The market for watches in the US is not as strong

 By: watch-er : March 7th, 2016-14:56
as it is in Europe or Asia. Most people in the US could care less about watches and would not know a nice watch from anything else (except maybe a Rolex and then they could not tell a real one). There is some limited demand in the big urban centers so all... 

One thing I like, no discounts, no worries, no need to shop around or haggle...

 By: Clueless_Collector : March 3rd, 2016-17:47
Less chances or regrets to find out the watch you bought went on clearance by others and be angry. One thing I don't like, no friendly VIP feeling or have a great discussion with Purist (some AD and boutique reps are Purists), or someone who attend to you... 

Eventually every thing will be sold through e-commerce direct to the consumer

 By: AnthonyTsai : March 3rd, 2016-20:52
This is the way of the future whether or not you like it. You can't stop progression. There are benefits but also detriments. In either case, it is what it is. - AT

Its the future...

 By: andrewluff : March 4th, 2016-01:46
There is no question on that, look at the development of web retail over the past 5 years. When I want something like a new phone, tv, etc, etc I no longer walk to my nearest store, I just go on Amazon or another web shop. If I want to buy a birthday pres...  

I think we could see a secondary market in kidnapped drones...

 By: andrewluff : March 4th, 2016-02:08
and their parts become the latest fashion accessory! Cheers Andrew

A. Lange & Sohne did that and "lost" many "loan" watches

 By: MTF : March 4th, 2016-07:21
The early Lange 1 owners got a loan watch when their watches went in for servicing. They were steel cased Lange 1 movements that were rarer than the gold and platinum production models. Suddenly, all sorts of "accidents" and "forgetfulness" made the loan ... 

Hadn't thought of that!

 By: andrewluff : March 4th, 2016-11:42
Maybe the price of shotguns will go up around watch manufactures to handle the extra demand for people wanting a new tourbillon! Cheers Andrew

One unintended consequence will be . . .

 By: Dr No : March 4th, 2016-10:47
. . . increased attention to online sources of information, especially interactive forums. All in all, not a bad development from my point of view ;-) . . .

Thanks for the info

 By: jim_94104 : March 4th, 2016-13:07
I wonder what the return policy is? if such exist, will I then be getting a five figure watch that may not be entirely "new"? or such practices already exist with the dealers?

Long time coming....but its effect on LVMH brands will be different

 By: Hororgasm : March 4th, 2016-14:36
For makes sense. For other Hublots, guess so too. One can even argue that given LVMH versus Richemont and Swatch Gp relative horological portfolios and dealer support, they have the least to lose. But I think it will backfire, with all dealers pu... 

With Zenith, it means general availability in the USA, for once.

 By: rdenney : March 4th, 2016-15:03
I bought my Captain at the last remaining AD in Washington, just as they were losing their dealership. Very few retail channels in the US means they have little chance of building brand here. Too much distance between sales outlets, while Rolex is availab... 

totally control the price

 By: watch-er : March 7th, 2016-14:47
is what they want. All of which will translate into even fewer sales for them as nobody can see their watches in the flesh before purchasing. The market is tough enough but the watch companies make it harder all the time for themselves.