Atlanta’s luxury watch market is heating up this summer.
Audemars Piguet launched a 530-square-foot boutique in Lenox Square through its first-time U.S. management and operations partnership with the Watches of Switzerland Group, whose relocated, redesigned Mayors’ flagship houses a Rolex shop-in-shop. The adjacent stores share a prominent corner and back office, but Audemars Piguet can’t be accessed from Mayors’ sales floor and features exclusive decor with a custom chandelier and Vals stone imported from Switzerland. As Audemars Piguet shifts its business model from wholesale to retail, whether through company-owned doors or partnerships like its Hamptons’ location with Material Good, both watch entities realized they needed each other to enter the Southern city with panache.
“Mayors’ customers are getting introduced to Audemars Piguet, and we bring our expertise and knowledge of the Atlanta market since taking over Mayors in 2017,” said David Hurley, executive vice president of Watches of Switzerland Group, who oversees U.S. operations.
At the high end of Watches of Switzerland’s price point, Audemars Piguet appeals to an affluent client base beyond local Fortune 500 company founders and executives. Already known as a sports hub, where professional athletes own primary residences and vacation homes, as well as for its thriving music scene from country to hip-hop, Atlanta has become a hotbed for the entertainment industry due to Georgia’s incredibly favorable film tax incentives. The city is home to Tyler Perry Studios, while film and television productions such as “Stranger Things” and “The Walking Dead” also spill into its environs. (The state’s 455 productions generated $9.5 billion in total economic impact last year according to the Georgia Film Office, a windfall that could be jeopardized if a Hollywood-driven boycott occurs following the state’s abortion ban slated to go in effect in January.)
Despite being Audemars Piguet’s smallest store, the full collection including the new Code 11:59 is represented in Atlanta. Customers previously had to shop its stores in New York and Bal Harbour, Fla.
“They were pretty clear on their strategy of wanting to get closer to the customer,” said Hurley, of the brand’s July arrival. “It’s one of the most prestigious brands we carry along with Rolex and Patek Philippe, and we’ve seen a mix of their fans and new customers.”