Bonhill unlocks value of pre-loved watches for dealers and consumers

Eloi Guilera, UK Bonhill Group director.

The secondary market is getting organised, with brokers like Bonhill Group providing the valuable service of bringing sellers, marketplaces and end consumers together. As director Eloi Guilera explains, Bonhill is part of a fundamental shift in attitudes towards second hand watches from watchmakers and watch lovers alike.

WatchPro: How long has Bonhill Group been operating?

Eloi Guilera: Bonhill began operations in 1987 in New York, buying from the public and professionals, and this remains our global headquarters. In 2013 we opened our European HQ in Barcelona and in 2017 launched satellite offices in Dubai, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom as well as affiliate programs in Central America, the Far East and North Africa.

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WP: What is the unique selling point of your business model?

Eloi Guilera: Product that has been in store inventories for more than three years is an underperforming asset declining in value. Tying up capital and devoting time and energy to selling this product limits competitiveness and curb appeal compared to a store or boutique with the latest models. Our global buyback program enables our partners to free up capital for replenishment and growth.

Similarly, private clients also have under-performing assets in jewellery and watches they no longer wear or need. These items can be turned back into cash that can be put to better use. Bonhill is dedicated to forging relationships to provide an exclusive, expert and trustworthy experience for the sale of these items directly through our own offices or via one of our Global Affiliate Program partners. Our established channels then ensure discrete distribution.

 WP: What country represents your biggest market?

Eloi Guilera: Our biggest market for purchases might not necessarily be our biggest for sales and this changes often by season and trend. Our strength and expertise as a global business is knowing the most appropriate marketplace for a particular product category or brand at a particular time, thus ensuring our vendors and customers realise maximum value.

WP: How long do you see the current demand for second-hand watches continuing?

Eloi Guilera: It certainly seems to be ‘en vogue’ at the moment but, rather than just a trend, we see it as a fundamental shift in attitudes towards second-hand watches and product in general on the buy and sell side rather than just a trend. Owners are more conscious of unused items and tend to see them more as underperforming assets rather than family heirlooms and are more likely to turn these items back into cash when they’re no longer being used.

There’s also a greater overall awareness of recycling and the benefits that has for the environment and this is true for buyers also. People are generally more open to buying and using something that has been previously owned. Previously owned products also open up a whole additional field of options to the aspirational consumer who is normally limited by high retail prices and availability.

WP: Do you handle stock, or do you simply act as an agent / marketplace to bring together buyers and sellers?

EG: Our objective is to realise maximum value for clients and pay the highest prices possible whilst accommodating their need for discretion and/or over-exposure. To ensure this everything goes into our product cycle where we strategise and establish the best marketplace for distribution.

WP: How can customers be sure of the authenticity of the watch that they buy using Bonhill Group?

EG: Before sale, as part of the product cycle, every item is thoroughly examined by our experts and is guaranteed 100% authentic and original for life. We also provide a warranty on parts and functionality.

WP: What expansion plans do you have over the coming year?

Eloi Guilera: There are no plans for any additional Bonhill offices in the coming year. We have already achieved our goal of expanding our physical locations into Europe, Hong Kong and Dubai. These we see as the hubs for our global operation and our focus now is on bringing our services to new clients and countries via the Global Affiliate Program, which can be implemented in anywhere that has any sort of luxury product market.

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