Jaeger-LeCoultre moves into the pre-owned watch space

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Wheels within the top-end of the mechanical watch world are turning. Manufacturers, more than ever, are looking to control not only the supply and distribution of their new watches, but also where and how their older timepieces are sold on the increasingly-lucrative secondary market.

Back in 2018, global luxury behemoth Richemont – parent company to Cartier, IWC, Panerai, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, among others – reportedly paid £250 million for second-hand marketplace WatchFinder. Then, in 2020, the investment arm of LVMH – owners of Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith – acquired a minority stake in watch and e-commerce website Hodinkee.

At the end of last year, Rolex announced that it would begin working with authorised retailers in countries across Europe on a pre-owned watch programme. While many retailers have sold second-hand Rolexes for years, the manufacturer has now agreed to officially authenticate, service and offer a two-year guarantee on its older models. The programme will commence later this year and even see Rolex endorse pre-owned watches with its famous wax tags.

And now it’s the turn of Jaeger-LeCoultre to get in on the pre-owned watch action. Last week, the Le Sentier-headquartered maison said that it would be making a selection of vintage timepieces available through what it’s calling The Collectibles programme. The initial capsule collection, which will be available online, consists of 17 timepieces that represent a high-water mark for both the manufacture and for 20th-century watchmaking in general.

Jaeger-LeCoultre The Collectibles 02

Reverso Small Seconds, £37,300 © Justin Hast

It’s worth noting that Vacheron Constantin has operated something similar for some time now, with, according to the brand, great success. In the case of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s The Collectibles programme, each of the watches sold will have been fully serviced and restored. Crucially, though, the watches listed will undergo as little aesthetic intervention as possible – a key element that collectors will look for. After all, nobody wants a replacement dial or a new set of hands. All of the watches will be fitted with new straps, but the original strap or bracelet will, wherever possible, also be included.

There’s also an enormous coffee table book detailing the history and specification of the initial 17 pieces – a complimentary copy of which anyone who buys through The Collectibles programme will receive. This obviously isn’t an overtly commercial move by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Let’s be honest, sales of this selection of watches will be proportionally tiny in comparison to sales of the brand’s contemporary line-up. However, it certainly adds to the brand-building efforts of the ‘Le Grande Maison’.

Few watch manufacturers can boast such a storied past and such an extensive back catalogue of interesting shapes and innovative complications. Watch collectors will be able to view that history in person, as a boutique world tour of The Collectibles collection is planned for later this year. Keep an eye on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s website for more details on when the collection will be appearing in a boutique near you.

Visit jaeger-lecoultre.com

Read more: The best men’s watches under £5,000

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