Several months ago former NetJets executive Randy Brandoff founded Eleven James, an annual private membership program for would-be watch collectors offering access to an impressive array of luxury timepieces for a fraction of the cost of ownership. Annual memberships enable you to wear either three or six different watches per year from Eleven James’ three collections—Aficionado, Connoisseur, and Virtuoso—including examples from the likes of Rolex, Breitling, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Panerai and more. We spoke to Brandoff about why it might be better to borrow than buy.
Just Luxe: What are the advantages of an Eleven James membership over assembling your own collection?
Randy Brandoff: Eleven James membership resonates with watch collectors and non-collectors alike.
For non-collectors and new market entrants, Eleven James provides the opportunity to enjoy three to six watches per year at a fraction of the price of purchasing a single watch of that caliber. This element has been particularly interesting for the millennial generation that increasingly seems to prefer to remain "asset light".
For collectors, myself included, Eleven James allows for you to test drive a few different brands/watches that you're considering for your next purchase, provides a very low hurdle for you to step outside of your favorite brand(s) and experiment with new ones, and allows you to try something completely different than your normal, such as a vintage timepiece, to see how you like it. As one member memorably put it, "There are far more watches that I'd like to date than I want to marry."
JL: How would you describe the average Eleven James member? How many members are there?
RB: Common among all of our members is a passionate interest in luxury watches and an appetite for variety. Beyond that, our members represent an exciting spectrum that includes millennials, well established collectors, women who love to accessorize with men's watches, and corporations who use Eleven James for corporate gifting and/or sales and management incentive programs. We are completing our first year with hundreds of enthusiastic members and have a robust lead pipeline from which we'll be adding many thousands of members in the years ahead.
JL: How do you select the pieces for your collections? Do you have any personal favorites?
RB: We are constantly capturing feedback and data from our members on the watches currently in our collections and the brands and models they'd like to see added. This enables us to continually build and expand the collections that best represents and excites our membership.
We have over 30 brands represented and hundreds of models. It's impossible for me to narrow it down to even a handful of favorites. But I will say that as a collector and variety seeker, this is a LOT of fun for me!
JL: What are the most popular pieces? Are any certain brands becoming more in demand?
RB: Our Collections include a robust blend of latest/greatest new models, iconic brands and models, discovery brands and models, and vintage. Of course, extremely popular brands like Audemars Piguet, Breitling, IWC, Panerai, Patek Philippe and Rolex are popular with our membership. But, we've also helped our membership discover and enjoy perhaps less known but very exciting brands like Parmigiani Fleurier, A Lange Sohne, Jaquet Droz, Arnold & Sons and many more. We see certain brands and styles (like rose gold and 40-42 mm sizing) becoming increasingly popular.
JL: How do you help guide members to make smart investments when they do decide to buy their own pieces?
RB: First, our members have the option to purchase watches directly from our collections. At the end of each watch rotation an ever growing percentage of members are telling us that they really like the watch on their wrist and they may want to make it their own.
Also, education is a key component of Eleven James membership and we readily make available to members both internal and external watch experts who can help members make the best choices for their own collections.
JL: What pieces are you planning to add to the collection next? How often are new pieces added?
RB: We're adding dozens of watches to our collections each month. Some terrific watches we've added this month include a rose gold Lange 1, a Rolex GMT-Master II (Batman) and a Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Greek Islands.
JL: Are there any plans to expand the company’s offerings behind the watch world?
RB: We certainly believe our access and service driven model lends itself to additional luxury products and will be exploring these opportunities, both domestically and globally, in the years ahead.