Some might think that with the debut of the Apple Watch comes the demise of the Rolex. But one luxury retailer expects the smartwatch craze actually to stimulate demand for the classic timepiece.
Eleven James is a subscription service that allows its users to rent out luxury watches. With the debut of its newest collection, the "Enthusiast," the start-up now offers three collections and a variety of brands, including Cartier, Rolex and Hublot. Membership fees begin at $149 per month. The least expensive subscription allows its users to select three watches per year (or one watch every four months).
But why feature a brand new collection the day before the much-anticipated rollout of the Apple Watch? After all, preorders for the wearable sold out within six hours of becoming available due to such strong demand.
Eleven James founder & CEO Randy Brandoff told "Squawk Alley" that while the Apple Watch is an amazing gadget, it won't replace the classic timepiece.
"Those who enjoy getting the latest gadget will get the latest gadget. But it's not going to replace years of wearing a Rolex. It's just different," he said.
Moreover, the Apple Watch and the Rolex aren't substitutes and comparing the two is "a little bit like comparing apples and watches," he said. In other words, demand for one shouldn't eclipse demand for the other. Rather, the introduction of the new wearable will generate demand for wristwear in general, he predicted, which will be an overall boon for the watch industry.
"The industry is not suffering. For the watch industry itself, it's bullish," he added. "It's getting people to think about wearing watches again."
Brandoff noted the pickup in millennial demand for wristwear and said his start-up offered "training wheels" to those just discovering the world of luxury watches.
"It's the first generation who grew up telling time on their phones. Now for style reasons and other choices, you're going to start wearing nicer watches and that's where Eleven James comes in," he said.
While Eleven James does not disclose financials, its number of subscribers has quadrupled in the past 12 months, the company said. But it's still unclear whether Brandoff will add the Apple Watch to his collections in the future or if he'll keep the subscription service purely centered around classic watches.
Only time will tell.