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No Longer Afraid of Vintage Market, Swiss Watchmaker Gets Into Resale

  • Swiss watchmaker’s CEO sees standalone chain for used watches
  • Audemars also planning new line to complement Royal Oak
A 1993 Royal Oak Offshore luxury wristwatch.
A 1993 Royal Oak Offshore luxury wristwatch.

Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg

Audemars Piguet, the Swiss maker of the rugged Royal Oak watch, plans to open standalone stores to buy and sell secondhand timepieces, seeking more control over its products throughout their life cycle as the industry looks for new sources of growth.

The preowned business could be 10 to 20 times the size of the market for new watches, Chief Executive Officer Francois-Henry Bennahmias said at a show in Geneva. Until now it’s mostly been left to auction houses, independent local shops and online platforms like Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., with Swiss brands focusing on building an aura of exclusivity around their new creations.