Secondhand watch sales are getting a second look and reseller WatchBox is taking note.
The company, which is a spin-off of Govberg Jewelers pre-owned watch business started late last year, turned the head of Singapore private equity firm CMIA Capital Partners. CMIA said in late November it’s infusing more than $100 million over the next 18 months into the resale platform.
The business is now using that money to buy up more inventory, operating with a run rate of about $200 million, according to cofounder and Govberg Jewelers chief executive officer Danny Govberg. The executive started WatchBox with former Sincere Watch owner Liam Wee Tay and investor and entrepreneur Justin Reis.
“Our solution is already proven and successful,” said Govberg, whose family started Govberg Jewelers in 1916. “CMIA is investing in a company that’s growing at a great rate. They’re not investing in a dream and we’re burning the capital. We’re using the capital to fortify what’s already good.”
What’s “already good” as Govberg put it is a multipronged business. Yes, an online platform is certainly one space the business plays in, but the company also has an app that includes content, listings of what watches are trading at and the ability for users to upload their watch collections to have it valued and stored in a “watch box.” The company’s headquarter offices serve as a place for clients to visit. One office has already been set up in Hong Kong while a space in Switzerland is set to open in the next 60 to 90 days later followed by New York this year. There’s social media and WatchBox Studios in Philadelphia where some of the company’s employees — there are 150 globally — are producing content for what Govberg envisions to eventually be a media network aimed at high-end watch collectors.
The company’s ability to create content is also leading it down a path of media partnerships with bloggers and more traditional media outlets, such as magazines, that need a platform to service the niche communities they’ve cultivated over time, and Govberg sees that eventually becoming a significant driver of revenue in the future.
It’s that multistep approach to meeting customers — about 95 percent of whom are men — that Govberg believes gives WatchBox its competitive edge. Still, it competes against existing resellers in the market, many of which are buzzier brands selling across a variety of categories beyond watches, such as The Real Real or Tradesy.
Still, Govberg and the rest of the WatchBox team see their business in a good as established watch brands begin to see the merits in the pre-owned business. The most recent sign of that was Audemars Piguet, which said last week it planned to enter the resale space this year.
Greater transparency is driving those decisions as customers become armed with information about what their options are when it comes to the secondhand market, Govberg said.
The point of WatchBox having multiple components to its business fulfills it’s overall strategy with customers, he added, which is to educate, entertain, build trust and then have an in-person communication with resellers or buyers.
“Personal commerce — actual talking to somebody — sits between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, and luxury better realize that that sits there,” Govberg said. “In the past, if you were in brick-and-mortar you got no value from Wall Street. The only way you were getting value was by being e-commerce, but now with omnichannel, people are realizing you have to give luxury when [the consumer] wants it. You have to give education when they want it.”