S otheby’s might be one of the oldest auction houses in the world, but it’s also one of the most innovative – as evidenced by the launch this month of Sotheby’s Salon, at Bucherer on Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s premier shopping street.
The concept – a cross-category salon on the third floor of the famous watch and jewellery flagship – brings a new dimension to luxury retail, allowing collectors to buy at fixed price from a curated selection of watches, jewellery, leather goods, fine wines, fine art and more.
Overseeing the Salon will be representatives from Sotheby’s, each well-versed in their specialisms and in the products on sale – the selection of which will be influenced by the demands of the highly knowledgeable clientele and collectors to be found in this region.
So what prompted this remarkable joint venture? Both venerable businesses, Sotheby’s and Bucherer share certain values, says Josh Pullan, Head of the Global Luxury Division at Sotheby’s.
“We’ve worked with Bucherer on other innovations; we have a shared vision of the art of the client experience – and they really do understand the client experience. But the big shift is giving collectors the opportunity to engage beyond the auction cycle,” he says. “We’re really committed to developing our Buy Now marketplace, and in this Salon, we have created a place our clients can come to physically meet with our specialists, to see and handle fantastic properties in person and see the intersection of education, history, curation and retail.”
'In this Salon, we have created a place our clients can come to physically meet with our specialists, to see and handle fantastic properties in person; a place they can see the intersection of education, history, curation and retail'
It's that sense of a luxury space and deep understanding of the clientele that made Bucherer such a perfect partner for Sotheby’s Salon. Having been an essential destination since 1888 for collectors and shoppers seeking luxury jewellery and watches, the team at Bucherer know their customers – and the design of Sotheby’s Salon reflects that ethos.
“The look and feel of the Sotheby’s Salon reflects the rest of the house of Bucherer, almost bringing a living-room atmosphere. It’s relaxed, but elevated and luxurious,” says Stav R. Martens, Bucherer’s Global Director of Commercial Partnerships, CRM and Customer Experience. “And in our flagship stores we hold up to three to four events a week for our clients – they expect to attend occasions here – so Sotheby’s has become a natural part of that.”
Indeed, as well as presenting tempting items for sale, Sotheby’s Salon will also host exclusive events ranging from sealed auctions to wine and spirit tastings in the Caveau, which will feature library vintages and bottles, usually reserved for long-term Preferred clients.
“Rather than the experience of visiting a traditional wine merchant, the Caveau looks and feels like entering the world-class cellar of an expert collector, with rare bottlings from quintessential producers such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Coche-Dury, Krug, Chateau Petrus, Chateau Mouton, Ornellaia, Vega Sicila, and Screaming Eagle,” says Vanessa Conlin, Global Head of Wine Retail at Sotheby’s. “The Caveau will feature monthly intimate tasting events hosted by winery principals and winemakers from around the world, offering rare access to the individuals guiding the history and trajectory of fine wine globally."
Of course, events aside, it is the curation of products on sale that will be the main attraction – and it promises to be nothing if not varied.
As well as star items – such as the first sealed auction for Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ game-worn jersey – experts at Sotheby’s have chosen items to complement Bucherer, offering marques and categories unavailable elsewhere in Bahnhofstrasse, from vintage Cartier or Patek Philippe, to coveted sneaker models and vintage Hermès bags, as well as exceptional pieces of fine art.
“Our people know each category deeply, and thoroughly understand the client experience from a retail perspective,” says Pullan. “It’s a very different experience to auction, where you see everything together in the showroom. Here it’s a ‘less is more’ approach, and it’s constantly rotating, so our customers can keep coming back to find something new. We have a lot of pieces hidden away ready to go onto the floor too,” he adds with a smile.
Sotheby’s Salon launches at Bucherer Bahnhofstrasse 50, Zurich, on 12 September 2023