Sotheby’s The Salon at Bucherer presents a revolutionary retail experience set to redefine the landscape of luxury shopping. In this exclusive interview, we engage in a conversation with Josh Pullan, the visionary force behind Sotheby’s latest venture—the world’s first-ever permanent ultra-luxury retail destination strategically positioned within Bucherer’s Zurich flagship store on Bahnhofstrasse 50. The perfect place to do your Christmas shopping, from vintage wines to edition bags, art and sports collectibles, as well as watches and fine jewellery.
IRMA: What motivated Sotheby’s to establish The Salon at Bucherer, a perpetual, cross-category luxury destination, and how does it align with the company’s mission and expertise in art and luxury?
JOSH PULLAN: Our inaugural purpose-built luxury retail space introduces a pioneering concept globally. It stands out as the exclusive destination where Patek Philippe Watches, Petrus Wine, Hermès, and various other categories coexist for immediate purchase. This distinction is pivotal as it echoes our strategic vision to transcend the traditional role of an auction house. This innovative space not only facilitates instant shopping but also encourages a distinctive approach to collecting.
IRMA: The collaboration between Sotheby’s and Bucherer has led to numerous innovations and successes. Could you provide specific examples of past collaborations and their contributions to The Salon at Bucherer’s development?
JOSH PULLAN: Over three years ago, our collaboration with Bucherer began by introducing auction previews in their stores in Geneva, Zurich, and New York. This allowed clients to preview auction highlights within Bucherer’s locations, garnering positive feedback. Expanding on this success, we extended our partnership to include Bucherer’s certified pre-owned watches on Sotheby’s digital marketplace and now the Salon.
Our collaboration is rooted in a shared vision of creating an exceptional client experience, blending our auction expertise with Bucherer’s retail excellence. This aligns with our approach to organizing our auction business around cross-category collecting.
IRMA: The Salon at Bucherer is conceived as a social hub for collectors and connoisseurs. Can you provide insights into the types of events and experiences clients can anticipate, and how these will foster a sense of community among participants?
JOSH PULLAN: At its core, the concept revolves around fostering interactions among collectors and clients, encouraging the sharing of experiences, expertise, and passions. The space will host various events, from wine tastings to up-close explorations of jewelry, along with masterclasses offering in-depth insights into the world of diamonds. The initiative aims to acquaint people with the journey from raw diamonds to polished gemstones, disseminating collective knowledge to a broader audience.
IRMA: Is there a dedicated curator for this space, or how is it managed?
JOSH PULLAN: Absolutely. Currently, our boutique manager oversees the space, and since our soft launch seven weeks ago, we are actively refining our product mix based on feedback. We plan to leverage existing opportunities within the Sotheby’s auction and cultural calendars for store takeovers.
If, for instance, you express admiration for a particular Hermès Birkin feather bag, our team can tap into our network to locate a new one in a different color. This extends beyond what’s available in the boutique, and akin to our online “shop now” feature, immediate purchases can be made in-store.
IRMA: Does the direct-to-sale approach bring you closer to the brands?
JOSH PULLAN: Indeed, we actively engage in collaborations with brands and manufacturers, a trend on the rise. Last year, we partnered with Nike and Louis Vuitton for a sale, and an upcoming wine auction with LVMH is in the works. This evolution allows us to navigate both primary and secondary markets effectively, benefiting both brands and collectors.
IRMA: This approach also helps in discovering new markets and collectibles.
JOSH PULLAN: Certainly, it empowers us to anticipate future market dynamics and emerging categories actively. Our mindset is focused on unlocking potentials, as seen in the growth of our relatively young businesses like handbags, sports memorabilia, and sneakers. Constantly pondering what comes next is essential.
IRMA: What do you think is the next big thing to collect?
JOSH PULLAN: The cross-category aspect is significant, where the interplay between various domains, such as jewelry, handbags, watches, or wine, indicates promising potential for new collecting categories. Passionate communities around different interests create a social atmosphere. For instance, during Luxury Week in Geneva, we auctioned the world’s most expensive bicycle in collaboration with Cogo, reflecting the essence of our existing categories. These communities can expand to include cognac, culinary delights like truffles, or other intriguing intersections.