My Prediction for the Jewelry and Watch Trade in 2018

Happy 2018! I hope it’s gotten off to a good start for you (#bombcyclone notwithstanding!).

I’m always invigorated by the start of a new year, especially with so many great ideas about the next iteration of retail (aka Retail 3.0) poised to take hold. One, in particular, has caught my interest and I’m convinced it will become a major force in retailing this year and beyond. Without further ado, here’s my big prediction for 2018:

Luxury brands jump head first into immersive retailing.

And here’s an example that illustrates why: On your way to Geneva at the end of this week to attend the 28th annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie? Take note: If you have a few minutes of downtime (ha!), find your way to Les Aviateurs, a new pilot-themed bar at Rue du Rhône 48.

Opened about a month ago, the bar, a joint effort with the department store Globus, is the Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen’s first explicit effort at hospitality. I say explicit because the brand has mastered the art of hospitality indirectly—by hosting thousands of people over the years at SIHH gala dinners, Art Basel parties, and intimate gatherings around the world. And now, it’s putting those skills to the test at its very own lounge, designed in the style of a cozy gentleman’s club, and located next door to the IWC boutique (with easy access in between, natch).

At Les Aviateurs, pull up a stool, plunk 26 francs (about $26) down for the Aviator—a cocktail combining Champagne, lavender syrup, and Aviation American gin—and contemplate the state of retail. We’ve already seen Tiffany & Co. open its own café and Shinola announce the opening of its first hotel in Detroit this fall. As the digital competition increases, expect more jewelry and watch brands—and perhaps some risk-taking retailers—to venture into hospitality. Can you think of a better way for a brick-and-mortar store to make a lasting impression?

To quote a spot-on Jan. 4 WWD article about how luxury brands are increasingly taking their cues from hotels, restaurants, and other segments of the hospitality industry: “The message? You’re our guest; do what you please and maybe buy a nice bag or watch—and why not Instagram all that while you’re at it.”

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JCK Magazine Editor