Parisian jewelry royalty aims to raise millions for luxury watch rental business

Eleven James founder Olivier Reza.

Olivier Reza believes that almost anybody can and should wear a prestige Swiss watch and has created a business called Eleven James to test the theory.

In an era when people want to pay for experiences rather than own objects, Mr Reza is making it possible to wear four different luxury watches per year for as little as $150 per month.

The business is in its infancy, and Mr Reza is currently working his way around the New York investment banking community with the aim of raising $20 million to turn his vision into a reality.

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The investment will pay for thousands of watches that will be sent to Eleven James subscribers to wear for three months at a time before being replaced with another one and another one for as long as the subscription runs.

Eleven James insures the watches, ensures they are genuine, and services and cleans them before sending them out to customers in pristine condition.

For the entry level price of $150, customers will receive a different watch every three months from a pool of watches including Rolex, IWC, Tudor and Baume & Mercier. Granted, the models available in the $150 per month category are either pre-owned or steel models such as an IWC Portofino Chronograph, but this is still a $4000 watch for the equivalent of $150 per month. You would have to save up for over two years at that rate before buying one.

Move up to a $300 sub and the watches double in value as well to the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget and Blancpain. The top tier at $500 includes watches from A. Lange. & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. That’s more than $20,000 worth of watch.

Pitching an idea like this to Wall Street would be a pipe dream for most, but Mr Reza comes with serious advantages.

You see Mr Reza is son of the late Alexandre Reza, described in certain circles as the greatest gem collector of the 20th century and founder of an eponymous jewellery brand and boutique that once served the world’s billionaires from its flagship on Place Vendôme in Paris as well as outposts in Geneva, Monaco and Cannes.

 

Inside the Reza Jewelry boutique in Paris.

 

Olivier Reza took over as president and creative director of Reza in 2009 after a decade in New York as managing director of mergers and acquisitions for investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co.

He also sits on the board of directors at Sotheby’s.

Success for Eleven James will depend on reaching the scale to make it self-supporting, and Mr Reza talks about hitting 10,000 subscribers within 3 years in order to make a profit.

  • WatchPro met with Olivier Reza at SIHH in January. Read the full interview on WatchPro.com in April.

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