The rise of the rental economy is well documented, with such companies as Netflix and Zipcar riding the wave of sharing and part-time ownership. With luxury items like designer dresses especially suited to the lower commitment of renting, it’s no surprise that high-end watches now have their own rental club.
Start-up Eleven James offers members the chance to wear three to six luxury watches a year for a fraction of the cost of an individual timepiece. The roster of watches includes the very best in wristwear—Patek Philippe, Jaeger-Lecoultre, Vacheron Constantin—and all the biggest names—Omega, Breitling, Rolex. Memberships start at $149 a month.
“This is a time where luxury is defined as much by access and experience as it is by ownership,” says Eleven James founder Randy Brandoff, formerly an executive at luxury jet sharing company NetJets (former Marquis). “Being able to access what you want, when you want it and for only as long as you want it is part of the luxury mind-set… it’s a generational thing. It’s an access generation.”
With costs running up to $15,000 a year for the very best watches (changing every two months), Eleven James is not an option for the casual watch fan. But if you’re looking to spend many thousands of dollars to purchase a once-in-a-lifetime timepiece, membership can provide an attractive way to get to know different watches before you commit to one.
That Patek Philippe may never be yours forever, but it can be yours for four months.