Luxury timepiece maker Vacheron Constantin will start selling its new watches online for the first time in its 262-year history as the Richemont-owned brand seeks younger customers.
The Geneva-based company designed a limited edition of 36 Cornes de Vache 1955 timepieces with New York-based watch news website Hodinkee â€” the first such collaboration for the watchmaker, said Vincent Brun, the president of Vacheron Constantin in North America.
The $45,000 watches will only be available on Hodinkee.com and not in stores.
â€œWe wanted to make this digital step in order to increase brand exposure in the world and reach out to watch lovers we did not necessarily speak to until now,â€ said Brun.
Swiss watchmakers have been increasingly embracing e-commerce to reach a younger clientele thatâ€™s less interested in wearing watches. IWC Schaffhausen, another brand owned by Switzerlandâ€™s Richemont, made its online debut in November when it began selling its watches on the websites of luxury e-tailer Yoox Net-a-Porter Group SpA. Richemont has hired an executive from Google Inc. to bolster its digital push as its brands catch up with Hermes, which already sells its $25,000 timepieces online.
Swiss watch exports dropped the most in seven years in 2016, as high-end timepieces went unsold in Hong Kong, the industryâ€™s largest market. A Deloitte survey in September showed that, for the first time, Swiss watch executives plan to expand more in e-commerce than in other channels such as their own stores.
Vacheron Constantin is one of Richemontâ€™s most expensive brands, with products including a $150,000 platinum chronograph and the worldâ€™s most intricate mechanical pocket watch. Richemont shares have risen 10 percent this year.
The Cornes de Vache timepieces were designed with a more â€œyouthfulâ€ look and are available in stainless steel for the first time, said Ben Clymer, the websiteâ€™s founder. â€œThe steel case is something that is becoming very desirable to readers of Hodinkee,â€ he said. â€œIt also brings the price down to below $50,000, making it slightly more approachable.â€