In this town, it’s hard to gauge who owns what. That fancy new BMW 7-Series, probably a lease; that new gorgeous luxury condo, the same; even women's clothes and handbags are in the same ball park with the rise of clothing rental sites like Rent the Runway and Bag, Borrow or Steal.
For men, the need for a Birkin is unlikely and in the past, they had a propensity to rent only one type of clothing or accessory -- the tuxedo -- and only on the very rare occasion. But with the rise of men's peacocking, clothing and accessories wars are soaring in offices and conference rooms across town. While men won't rent Givenchy sneakers or a Margiela suit, wrist watches are a whole other ballgame.
With Eleven James, which launched last year, one can opt for three different timepiece collections. The Aficionado includes watches for $10,000 and under, which features a Rolex Submariner or a Jaeger-LeCoultre Ultra Thin. Next is the Connoisseur, which offers watches in the $15,000-$25,000 range like a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual Time, a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Sport Flyback Chronograph or Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time. The top of the range is the Virtuoso, with watches retailing between $30,000-$50,000, and features a variety of options on the higher end like Patek Philippe 5980-1A, Patek Philippe 5110R or a Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Atalante.
Pricing is fairly simple: Members can pay the yearly membership fee upfront with a 10 percent savings or pay monthly within a year, with packages ranging from an Aficionado membership with 3 rotations per year at $249 per month or $2,700 per year; and all the way up to a Virtuoso membership with 6 rotations per year at $1,599 per month or $17,250 per year.
“Watch collecting becomes about all too many watches and then the watches are just sitting there," says Randy Brandoff, founder of Eleven James, and former CMO of NetJets and Marquis Jet. "For us, it's about watches being enjoyed. Two months with a watch is long enough to not get sick of the watch and have the enthusiasm wane."
Brandoff has plans for expansion in the future, too, especially on the marketing side, where he envisions the Eleven James brand working closer with the watch manufactures. The company received $1.4 million in seed funding backed by investors including Box Group, WGI Group, Avion Tequila's founder Ken Austin and Jason Saltzman.
"It's a shared assets business models, a type of collaboration consumption," says Brandoff. "Our guys are variety addicts and they purchased all of their watches and are starting to view their collection with a varying degree of apathy. We see a lot of entrepreneurs and they are consistent on how they consume."
Brandoff reasons, you'll be able "to scratch one’s itch for variety without the challenges of ownership. We're not against ownership but for the price of one watch, you can wear three to six watches a year. For many, it's their entry into high-end watch ownership."