By  on May 6, 2013

PARIS — The opening of a Bucherer store — the world’s biggest luxury watch emporium — here has confirmed the French capital’s status as one of the fastest-growing markets globally for high-end timepieces, fueled by a growing stream of tourists from Asia.

The family-owned Swiss retailer last month unveiled its multibrand store at 12 Boulevard des Capucines, a historic building formerly occupied by ready-to-wear shop Old England.

“Paris is becoming the number-one destination for watch retailing,” said Guido Zumbühl, chief executive officer of Bucherer AG. “For us, being one of the biggest watch and jewelry retailers in Europe, it is very important to be present in Paris.”

Spanning 2,200 square meters, or 23,700 square feet, the three-story boutique offers watches from around two dozen leading brands, including Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Chopard, IWC, Panerai, Piaget and Zenith, in addition to its own Carl F. Bucherer timepieces and Bucherer Diamonds jewelry.

It also features a watchmaking workshop for repairs. “It is the first Bucherer boutique in France, so we wanted this to be very qualitative, true to our heritage,” Zumbühl said.

Bucherer AG, which also operates stand-alone stores for luxury brands, plans to add an adjoining Cartier store. Tag Heuer and Omega will also open boutiques nearby, marking the birth of a new luxury-watch hub between the Boulevard Haussmann department store district and Place Vendôme, the historic home of Paris jewelers.

“The neighborhood is gradually being transformed into a zone dedicated to tourism, with watches and jewelry as the main draw,” noted Pierre Raynal, head of retail agency at the French division of global real estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield.

“Retailers are trying to develop new destinations dedicated to this activity because there is a lack of space on the historic axes, such as Rue de la Paix or Place Vendôme,” he added.


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