Looking beyond bricks and mortar
As Farfetch moves into fine watches, Timothy Barber charts the e-commerce revolution
The adoption of online selling by high-value watch brands has seemed, at times, an almost painfully tentative process. However this spring has seen significant strides forward, with the launch of fine watches and jewellery hubs on the e-commerce website Farfetch, the completion of Richemont Group’s takeover of Yoox Net-a-Porter ( YNAP) and, just a week ago, Richemont’s surprise acquisition of the UK-based secondary market seller, Watchfinder.
Promising a “fresh and playful” approach geared to a young audience, Farfetch has launched its offering with a select number of watch brands including TAG Heuer, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux (pictured below right). Speaking exclusively to Telegraph Time, Farfetch’s chief commercial and sustainability officer, Giorgio Belloli, described the assortment as “very, very curated”, with a mix of well-known and more niche players. “We’ve always been focused on discovery, not just megabrands,” he said.
Meanwhile, the established player in the field and Farfetch’s chief rival, Yoox Net-a-Porter ( YNAP), has been ramping up its activities significantly.
Previously YNAP’s largest shareholder, Richemont completed its wholesale takeover of the company the same week Farfetch launched its hubs last month.
YNAP’s women’s and men’s platforms, Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter, have already established a strong presence in the hard-luxury arena, with several of the houses owned by Richemont – Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Piaget among them – featuring. In April Net-a-Porter launched a new “Fine Jewelry & Watch Suite”, focussing on the highend. Mr Porter, meanwhile, has recently signed up Breitling, a powerhouse independent, and has this week launched an
‘We’ve always been focused on discovery, not just megabrands’