Retailers are grudgingly learning to live with the watch brands they have worked with for decades setting up direct to consumer ecommerce sites in direct competition to them.
So 27 retail partners of MB&F around the world might have been rolling their eyes at news that the watchmaker was planning to launch its own ecommerce site.
That was before they learned the details, which put long standing partnerships at the heart of MB&F’s strategy.
First, MB&F will not sell its entire portfolio of watches online. Instead, it is offering a selection of just a few references, for limited periods of time on a rotation basis. This started with its most recent launches, the HM10 Bulldog, and the co-created LM101 MB&F x H. Moser, which has become the first watch sold online by MB&F.
Secondly, and more significantly, MB&F’s ecommerce site will offer watches that are in stock with its retail partners, creating a virtual inventory of the rare watches and ensuring that the retailer offering the watch up for sale is rewarded.
“Our approach is not to offer the entire inventory of our partners, but carefully-selected pieces – typically the last remaining piece of a specific reference,” MB&F describes. “Those pieces, although promoted on our e-shop, are sold in full transparency directly by our retail partners to the final customer; our e-shop acts as an additional sales channel for our partners, and we take no extra commissions or fees on those sales.”
The first retailer piece to be sold is the very last HM3 Frog Titanium on the market, offered by MB&F’s partner Westime, which has boutiques in Los Angeles, La Jolla and Miami.
At a time when many retailers remain closed and others are seeing far fewer customers than usual, MB&F’s online store is a potential extra storefront for its partners.
Watches are sold on the company’s online M.A.D. Gallery that has been selling MB&F + L’Epée 1839 table clocks and other kinetic sculptures from M.A.D.Gallery artists for over a year.