Consider the Las Vegas luxury retail landscape. A playground for global brands, it’s woefully lacking in independent, family-run businesses—especially those in the jewelry and watch space.
“In a town that’s all corporate-run, with really no independents, no families—in an industry that is traditionally family-run—we have a big advantage,” says Alan Bekhor, president and COO of LV Luxury Holdings, a luxury watch and jewelry retail company founded in 1978 by his father, Ezra.
LV Luxury Holdings grew from modest beginnings as a mall operator to become one of Sin City’s most respected luxury dealers. Today, the company is owner of the Bellusso and Horologio watch boutiques located in the Palazzo and Venetian hotels, respectively, but that’s far from the whole picture. In addition, there are a handful of brand boutiques, such as Vacheron Constantin and IWC Schaffhausen, both located inside Bellusso. And Van Cleef & Arpels, which you’ll find at the Forum Shops at Caesars.
At the 3,000-square-foot Bellusso boutique, which opened in 2008, the company sells its most exclusive timepieces (the store’s tagline: “Where beauty meets luxury”). The selection, totaling about a dozen brands, ranges from a Cartier Tank model retailing around $2,500 to a complicated Greubel Forsey timepiece for about $600,000.
With the Sands Convention Center located next door to the Venetian, the company’s clientele is overwhelmingly made up of tourists. But unlike in recent years, the Chinese tourism wave has slowed. “We’ve always had at least one Mandarin-speaking employee on every shift,” Bekhor says. “Today, it’s important but not as critical.”
Managing the business can be a feat of logistics for Bekhor, who is based in Los Angeles and spends three to four days each week in Las Vegas. On a recent afternoon, he spoke to Robb Report about the 2018 styles that are hitting it big in his stores, the attributes of the ultimate dress and sports watches, and how he made longtime clients out of a visiting group of Canadian businessmen.
What are your watch clients looking for?
There’s a story when they buy from us in Vegas. Ninety-five percent of our clients are not from here. There’s a memory attached to the purchase. It’s not about the price. We try to give them an experience they won’t forget. If they don’t purchase, they walk away with more knowledge and we try to make it emotional.
Which timepieces from 2018 are you excited about?
The two brands that stick out are Vacheron Constantin because they just launched their new Fiftysix collection, and IWC with their 150th anniversary Jubilee collection—that’s been great. And Cartier with their Santos earlier in the year. I think IWC kind of stole the show with the Jubilee collection and being one of the boutiques, we got a nice allocation.
A number of high-end brands introduced more accessible steel offerings this year. Have those brought in a new customer for you?
Being on the casino floor in Vegas—I’m primarily talking about Bellusso—people are intimated to walk into the store. They think it’s $100,000-plus. So having a steel offering at $12,000 is refreshing, with Vacheron, especially. It’s nice they have a few more references in steel and are not compromising on quality. I’m glad to see them make the jump. Our clients are craving that. We’ve seen the trend away from gold to steel and steel and gold. The minimum for a gold bracelet watch is $35,000. The steel is just bringing in another consumer that wouldn’t have looked at a Vacheron before. The same with A. Lange & Söhne: Their Saxonia model is around $14,000. It’s in white gold but it’s bringing a new consumer to the brand.
What do you consider the ultimate dress and ultimate sports watches for 2018?
For a dress model, it’s a nice 38-to-40 mm watch on a leather strap, a thin reference on the wrist with date functionality, and some sort of complication. You want it to be automatic or manual wind so you get the beauty on the exhibition back. And on the front, you want a day or date complication.
If you’re going to buy a mechanical watch, I love an exhibition back to appreciate the movement, and on the front, I don’t like it to be too busy. You want it to be clean and legible. And you want to feel good about it so you want it in a precious metal.
For a sports watch, if there’s no budget, I’d go into a precious metal to separate yourself and make it a little more unique. I love having an automatic or mechanical watch and one of the complications I love is a power reserve, maybe a GMT or a date complication. The question is: What’s important to the client? They need to decide. A chronograph? Aesthetically, it’s beautiful and it really divides up the dial
Do you still sell a lot of diamond-encrusted watches in Vegas?
It used to be that diamonds were huge. Especially among Chinese buyers, but less now. Rather, we’re seeing more people asking about tourbillons and perpetual calendars. But less on pavé dials. I used to sell a lot more of those. Now maybe we’ll sell a watch with just a diamond marker or a diamond bezel.
Vegas retail must generate its fair share of memorable sales. What’s one that stands out?
One good story that comes to mind from the last couple of years was when a group of guys from Canada came to Vegas to celebrate the retirement of one of their business partners. They came into Horologio to view the selection, and quickly all the partners started looking at a watch for themselves. After visiting Bellusso and back to Horologio, they took some time to digest their options.
Being that we are located within the Venetian/Palazzo complex, we have a great network of restaurants, bars and lounges that we work closely with. To help celebrate and congratulate their retiring partner, we sent them to one of the bars on property and ordered them a round of drinks. Later that same evening after dinner, they all returned and each purchased a timepiece—with our limited-edition Vegas Breitling being acquired by the retiring partner. Since that visit, they have continued to shop with us and have even helped me out with planning a recent trip to Vancouver.