Time was, the thought of buying luxury watches and jewellery online was laughable. Who would risk either buying or sending high-price pieces around the world, even if by dedicated courier? But the luxury watch and jewellery e-tail sector is forever growing, and if one retailer has really nailed the concept, it’s Net-a-Porter, which sells diamonds many, many times daily.
But since so many other e-tailers are now doing the same thing, a point of difference is required, which is what Net excels at – and its latest launch is no different. Partnering with that most iconic of luxury brands, Cartier, the website is hosting a month-long pop-up shop expressly to sell the relaunched Panthere de Cartier watch collection as of May 2, a full month before it officially lands in-store.
First launched in 1983, the updated design comes in 12 styles, all specifically for women. From cool steel to warm yellow gold, it comes in a variety of finishes and two different sizes, and in some cases with an optional diamond bezel. Needless to say, all 12 models look utterly desirable, especially when seen on the campaign imagery, teamed with jeans and a white shirt or a slinky black evening gown.
What’s unique about the whole thing is not just that it’s the first time Cartier has ever partnered with an online retailer, but that the brand has allowed Net-a-Porter to sell this important relaunched collection online first – before it arrives in Cartier boutiques. Given that the watches range from £3,200 to £113,000 (the upper price for a slinky, panther-print version in white diamonds and black enamel), that’s a lot of sales value being handed over to another retailer – even if Cartier’s parent-company has a major stake in the group Net belongs to.
But if you put that aside and imagine the sort of client Net-a-Porter attracts, it makes sense. The platform’s shopper is a global one, who is as likely to fill up her basket with a few pairs of box-fresh Stan Smiths and some pre-worn jeans as she is to load up on diamond-covered watches and Erdem evening gowns – and possibly all at the same time.
It’s a clever move by Cartier – putting its latest launch on this particular spot on the online fashion map – because it places the Panthere in front of not just the traditional high fashion consumer, but also a younger, more contemporary-inclined shopper – one who may not have thought to buy a Cartier timepiece via an app on her phone before.