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December 14, 2013updated Dec 18, 2013

Watch Out: A New Way To ‘Buy’ Luxury Timepieces

By Chris Boyle

brandoffRandy Brandoff was a key member of the founding team at MarquisJet, a company that revolutionized how elite travelers buy time on private jets.

Partnering in 2001 with Warren Buffett owned NetJets, MarquisJet bought fractional shares then resold them in 25 hour increments, prepaid debit cards that enabled consumers to reserve time on the NetJets fleet without having to get into multi-year ownership contracts.

MarquisJet also pioneered ‘lifestyle’ marketing in the private jet segment making private jet travel a lifestyle choice:  Do you want to be home for you kid’s soccer game?  Why not bring the family dog on vacation to the ski house in Aspen?

After NetJets’ acquisition of MarquisJet, Brandoff served as Chief Marketing Officer, but his passion for watches and the entrepreneurial bug led him to launch Eleven James, a membership program “offering access to curated Collections encompassing the latest, most popular and vintage watch styles.”

Among the watches featured in launch Collections available to Members are Patek Philippe, Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, Blancpain, Cartier, Ulysse Nardin, Franck Muller, Zenith, Girard-Perregaux, Panerai, Omega, Hublot, IWC, Maurice Lacroix, Jaquet Droz and Glashutte.

MarquisJet offered its customers more than just the nicest way to get from Point A to Point B, C and D.  It created numerous lifestyle partnerships with top fashion ateliers such as Ermenegildo Zegna and jeweler Judith Ripka.

After all, if there was any guilt about shelling out $150,000 to $300,000 for 25 hours of private flying, getting a new custom suit or a nice bracelet for your significant other was a good way to negate buyer’s remorse.

Brandoff will be tapping into the same playbook at Eleven James, noting, “In addition to the (Watch) Collections, Members have access to a myriad of engaging and inspiring lifestyle experiences, including exclusive events, a robust rewards program, value-added benefits from Eleven James’ alliance partners, watch concierge services and personal collection assistance.”

With varying membership levels, Members get access to different collections of timepieces they get to wear for two-month periods either three or six times a year.  Brandoff feels he has taken into account wear and tear issues to ensure that watches stay in good condition.

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And while conventional wisdom might be that the rent-a-watch segment will appeal more to the aspiring Bud Fox rather than the established Gordon Gekko, Brandoff believes his concept will get a big take-up from Ultra High Net Worth consumers who could afford to buy the watches if they wanted.  He notes that even the richest of the rich lease cars, charter mega-yachts and rent luxurious villas that they could easily buy.

Noting elite travelers value high touch, like at MarquisJet there will be a big focus on superb service with his Concierges making recommendations to customers “to expertly pair watches with Members” as well “hand-delivery in New York City and soon nationwide.”

Outside of MarquisJet Brandoff has an impressive track record as Co-Founder of Blueprint Summit and a Principal of Tequila Avion. Will Eleven James achieve the same level of success as his other ventures?  Only time will tell.

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