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WatchBox - WatchBox Takes Rightful Place At Dubai Watch Week

WatchBox WatchBox Takes Rightful Place At Dubai Watch Week

At this year’s edition of Dubai Watch Week, as it did in 2019 before the pandemic, WatchBox had a strong and impressive presence

Decades ago, the idea of a watch exhibition with top brands from around the world showcasing their newest products would never have included a pre-owned watch seller. Times have changed and at this year’s Dubai Watch Week, online retail giant of pre-owned timepieces, WatchBox, held a prominent indoor/outdoor space where it not only welcomed guests and collectors, but also hosted parties and boasted a coffee bar on its terrace. 

This may well be because the concept of buying pre-owned watches online has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry with prices today for a luxury watch equaling (or exceeding) those of new watches for certain brands and models. In fact, over the past decade-plus, as the world has become smaller thanks to the internet and social media, watch collecting has become a global pastime for connoisseurs looking to find their must-have watch. The pandemic lockdown only helped to spur business forward as consumers around the world refocused their wallets from travel to product acquisition.

WatchBox Takes Rightful Place At Dubai Watch Week

© Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet

Thanks to the dreaded (and supposedly non-existent, if you ask the brands about it) boutique waiting lists for certain bestselling timepieces, the second-hand market has become a popular option for buyers who don’t wish to wait for their next purchase. However, those coming to the pre-owned luxury marketplace, thinking they will get a deal when it comes to pricing, are often wrong. Pre-owned watches that used to sell for at least 30 percent less than the same watch new, are now often the same price as a new one.

“The average sale is up almost double digits over where they were just five years ago,” says Danny Govberg, co-founder of WatchBox, which caps its global inventory at $200 million. Govberg says that the watches that sold a few years ago for $15,000, for instance, now sell for $30,000. He also adds that customers are not afraid to buy big-ticket items from WatchBox. “We specialize in watches that sell for more than $25,000. The ones high-net-worth individuals are looking for. Every day we sell watches that retail for more than $100,000.”

WatchBox Takes Rightful Place At Dubai Watch Week

© Rolex

Govberg is quick to note, though, that it is not his intention that WatchBox be a click-and-buy destination. He wants customers to interact with the brand’s advisors and to use them as a tool when it comes to selecting their next purchases. “We want our customers to interact with us regularly,” says Govberg. “They can buy their watch at an authorized store, or have it allocated to them, but we still want them to call and talk to us about getting a second or a third one of that brand, or about selling or trading in other watches. We want this to be fun for them.”

Justin Reis, WatchBox co-founder and CEO, says that growing this pre-owned business was not easy. Reis says that when he joined the industry five years ago, he had not been involved in the watch world. “What’s incredible to me as a newcomer into the industry was that there were so many rules about how watches leave the factory and are distributed and when you have such a structured industry it was difficult to think about how to change that. We had the idea to re-architect the way pre-owned watches are distributed to the consumer. We took this fragmented geographic business and made it a “no-rules” business where you can take a pre-owned watch and sell it anywhere in the world.”

WatchBox prend la place qui lui revient à la Dubai Watch Week

© Jaeger-LeCoultre

Granted, that took a lot of expansion and investment, but the privately owned company has accomplished great things. This year, the company grew by 40 percent and will achieve $300 million in revenues. It also has managed to replicate its United States business in five other countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland. 

Recently, so that it can continue its growth, WatchBox secured $165 million in equity capital funding for its e-commerce platform. Lead investors The Radcliff Companies and The Spruce House Partnership were joined by CMIA Capital Partners as well as other existing investors. 

Looking ahead, Reis says, “Next year, we will have 13 locations and in three years we will have 40 locations where customers can buy pre-owned watches.” The company also plans to expand its business to be more inclusive of women. Currently, 95 percent of its customers are men. 

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