As the clocks tick for traditional retailers, resale’s trajectory penetrates further. The pre-owned luxury watch market has yet to tap the same technology, logistics and efficiency at scale that powers the businesses of handbag and clothing resellers. Until now.
Luxury timepiece reseller WatchBox is using technology as well as leveraging content, which may be a market differentiator (some of the site’s videos garner in excess of 40,000 views).
The market size for luxury timepieces in the U.S. is estimated to be $580.6 million in 2018, up from $126.7 million in 2013, according to market researcher Euromonitor International. And the Chinese market is even larger.
As previously reported in WWD, players operating and newly entering the pre-owned luxury timepiece sector include Atlanta-based Crown & Caliber and Richemont-owned Watchfinder.com, which was acquired last year.
WatchBox, a Philadelphia-based company launched in 2017, is one that shines like new, built on the foundation of a 100-year-old family business (previously Govberg Jewelers) polishing its operations with the help of CMIA Capital Partners, who pitched more than $100 million for improvements in 2017. Since then, technology advancements, with a focus on its consumer-facing app, content and pricing technology allow the company to set its sights on global markets.
“We understand the market,” said Danny Govberg, chief executive officer of WatchBox, who cites $80 million in rotating stock and the data to match, while denoting 30 to 40 percent revenue growth a year. But another thing pertinent to the luxury watch market is the human element.
Govberg points to the “tremendous human capital,” whereby the in-house authenticators and watchmakers lend a hand to the credibility of the space. Brands such as Rolex (“the most valuable” Swiss watch brand worldwide, according to data from Statista), Omega and Breitling are carried by WatchBox.
Other keen differentiators to the watch vertical is that “a handbag and blouse doesn’t have to work,” in the words of Govberg. The average global pre-owned watch sale on WatchBox is $13,000, and the inventory is all owned — Govberg added that “not owning inventory is a mistake.”
Why? In the wristwatch world, authentication, warranties, quality assurance (ensuring the watch is in “mint” and “working condition”) all means that owning the inventory is necessary. Govberg believes that The RealReal and others operating via consignment models will switch gears soon.
WatchBox offers an app catered toward “watch collectors,” so that buy, sell, trade is easily sufficed and customers can get better transparency in their watch collections. The app gives customers a better understanding of selling prices across marketplaces, while providing user-generated (product reviews) and brand-own content (in-depth product videos).
While the wristwatch used to be a piece passed down through generations, Govberg says today is quite different with watches becoming more of an “asset class.”
“Today, there are people that own 40 watches,” a few steps further than the grandfather’s watch.
Within two years, WatchBox aims to expand to nearly 10 countries and within the next three to five years, it plans to own $120 million in inventory.
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