Yesterday, I stopped by the Chopard Boutique on Madison Ave. in Manhattan to pick up my LUC Sport 2000 which was in for an overhaul. As I walked through that neighborhood, I passed the Girard-Perregeaux boutique, the Omega boutique, the soon to be open Breguet boutique, a Mont Blanc boutique, the Franck Muller Watchland boutique, and the Audemars Piguet boutique. All these manufacturer boutiques were within walking distance from renowned dealers like Wempe, Tourneau and Cellini.
I don’t think I would ever buy a watch from a boutique. There’s something more traditional and familiar buying from a local dealer who you can develop a relationship with over time. Since I live in the New York metropolitan area, there’s certainly no shortage of fine dealers in the immediate area which isn’t the case in most parts of the country (and world). Perhaps someone coming to New York wanting to buy a Breguet or other fine watch not immediately available where they live and work would feel more comfortable going right to the boutique. Maybe with all the commerce done over the internet, going to a ‘brick and mortar’ shop to buy is a fading business model anyway.
While having a boutique probably expands the brand visibility, it also excesses the manufacturer’s traditional partner, the independent authorized dealer. Options are always better for the consumer but the boutique option isn’t a desireable option for me.