Obituary: Jörg Bucherer, the King of European Watch Retail

He dies shortly after selling his empire to Rolex.

Jörg G. Bucherer, the third generation to run the Bucherer retail chain, passed away on Monday evening at age 87. The news was first reported by Swiss newspapers including Le Temps.

Less than three months after agreeing to sell his family business to Rolex in a move that shocked the entire industry, but securing the future of the company. Bucherer took over the business in 1977, and has been at the centre of the industry ever since. Having navigated many turbulent periods in watches and retail alike, he not only kept the Lucerene-based retailer afloat, but steered them to the very top of the industry.

He led an extraordinary life, being one of the last remaining people to have worked directly with Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, and building a reputation as a man about town. Known for his fast cars and beautiful women in his youth, he was always extremely closely guarded when it came to media appearances. Bucherer leaves behind a retail network with over 100 points of sale across Europe and America.

The historic Bucherer store in Lucerne. Image – Bucherer

When Bucherer took the reins from his father, the industry was in turmoil, however, that didn’t seem to stop him as he would expand the company into new territories such as Austria and Germany in 1980s. He would go on to acquire other companies to help this expansion, including Kurz Group in 1989 and Swiss Lion in 2001.

The real breakthrough would come when, in 2018, Bucherer acquired Tourneau, gaining its 28 stores across the US, making it the biggest watch retailer in the world. Bucherer left behind no children, and has been battling illness for some time now, which led to speculation as to the reasoning for the Rolex buyout. It has been widely known that the vast fortune that he leaves behind will be going to charity, mainly to support his home town of Lucerne, where Bucherer was originally founded in 1888.


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