If you like luxury watches but can’t afford the steep price tag, two-year-old start-up Eleven James has a solution – an annual membership that lets members try a wide range of high-end men’s and unisex watches for a few months at a time for a fraction of the retail cost. Luxury on a budget.
Prices range from $149 to $1,259 per month in one of four core plans and watch collections – Enthusiast, Aficionado, Connoisseur and Virtuoso – or from $199 to $859 per month for a custom plan. Each of the four core plans has three price points per collection for 3, 4 or 6 watches per year. Added in April 2015, the Enthusiast Collection is the newest tier in the membership club, allowing luxury watch wearers to join the program at a lower price point.According to Business Insider, who has an affiliate membership with Eleven James, the company offers watches from 30 different luxury brands, including Cartier, Blancpain, Breitling and Rolex, as well as independent brands like F. P. Journe and Arnold & Son. Members can browse the different collections in Eleven James’ online “look book” to choose their favorites and add them to their member profile.Business Insider explains the concept of essentially renting a high-end watch: “…the idea here is to make something that’s generally unaffordable and unrealistic for the average watch wearer both cost-effective and practical.”Once a member joins Eleven James, they choose a watch from the appropriate collection. That watch is inspected, cleaned and sized for the member, and then it is insured and sent directly to the member in exceptional condition. Other benefits of the program include:
- Watches can be purchased.
- Upon renewal and member referral, members get loyalty rewards points to upgrade to a different collection, add an extra rotation to their membership, or use toward the price of a watch.
- Members receive loyalty rewards for on-time returns.
- Members get complimentary or prioritized access to Eleven James’ luxury partners including Manhattan Cricket Club, Tour Golf, Nigel Curtiss and Wheels Up.
- Members receive an all-access pass to exclusive events.
- A concierge works with members to build and update member profile and provide top-notch customer service.
Some restrictions, of course, apply. Ladies watches are not available, only members in the U.S. can join the program, and a cancellation penalty equal to 15% of the annual membership fee applies for early termination.Insider Take:Eleven James is now two years old and seems to have been successful with its model thus far, according to Ariel Adams, founder and editor of A Blog to Watch, a watch review site. Adams says Eleven James has two key advantages: it was founded by Randy Brandoff, a former Netjets executive with experience with luxury marketing, and Eleven James is focused on providing exceptional service to its customers.We see several other advantages:
- The membership program offers four core tiers of membership, along with custom plans to help members choose a plan that best fits their needs.
- Eleven James clearly spells out its terms on its website, making transparency an important facet of the business.
- In addition to providing members with a wide selection of watches, Eleven James rewards members for their loyalty and referrals.
- Eleven James also offers perks, including exclusive events and access to other luxury products and services.
- Eleven James has gotten a lot of media attention in its two years. It has also developed affiliate relationships to help like-minded partners like Business Insider spread the word. Positive PR and solid business relationships will help the company continue to grow.
We’d love to hear more about Eleven James’ plans for the future to see what’s next on the horizon for the membership company. If we find out, we’ll let you know.
- ~ Dana E. Neuts, Subscription Insider