“WatchBox is not a marketplace; we own every watch that we sell. This allows us to implement a true global quality standard,” reads a statement from one of the largest buyers, curators and sellers of pre-owned luxury watches worldwide with thousands of examples from the best brands available at any given time. WatchBox primarily operates through an online platform which is supported by bricks-and-mortar presence in key markets: United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore and now in Dubai at the DIFC. Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons has recently penned a strategic partnership agreement with WatchBox that is set to greatly benefit haute horlogerie enthusiasts in the UAE and the region.
WatchBox actively purchases watches from individuals, private collections, estates, and dealers worldwide, all of which are evaluated, authenticated, and brought to “mint” condition, before being added to the inventory for sale. According to WatchBox, it currently has over 2,000 watches presented online with another 2,000 in stock but not on display. The combined inventory of watches is in excess of $80 million. The company has plans to grow its inventory to between 9,000 and 12,000 units in the next 3-5 year with a projected value of $120 million.
Collectors use WatchBox’s trade-in program to expand, modify, and refresh their personal collections. The trade-in process can be availed across multiple platforms: online through thewatchbox.com trading portal, the WatchBox mobile app, the concierge phone service, or by visiting one of the flagship stores or the buying offices worldwide.
The sale or trade-in process begins with the collector communicating details about the watch they wish to trade through one of the channels. A Watchbox Client Advisor, possessing both knowledge and proprietary tools, offers a preliminary valuation and advise on what to do next. If the watch is being couriered, WatchBox will provide a pre-paid shipping label, and will cover all insurance and shipping expenses. Once it is received, the watch is inspected and valued, based upon which, the customer will be paid in case of a sale. In case of an exchange, the same amount will be credited towards the purchase of a “new” pre-owned watch, which is shipped within 48 hours. WatchBox provides a 15-months warranty with every pre-owned watch purchased.
WatchBox’s partnership with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons means that collectors can trade a watch they no longer wear at WatchBox, and redeem the credit they receive for it while purchasing a new watch at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.
The fact that WatchBox owns and maintains all the watches it sells makes the company responsible for the authentication and the proper functioning of each watch. It has developed a verification system to certify the provenance and authenticity of each piece. This additional layer of security for the buyer increases the trust factor as compared to other traders who only act as online aggregators. WatchBox is ideal for entry-level customers who may previously have been unable to afford a luxury watch, as the prices of most pre-owned watches are lower than their retail price when new.
Overall, the company has a team of around 200 associates, who are some of the most passionate watch enthusiasts in the business. They have collectively published more than 4,000 videos chronicles, watch reviews, interviews and creative films. At the forefront are three men who started it all back in 2015. Two of them are seasoned luxury watch dealers, one from the US and another from Singapore. The third is an investor-entrepreneur.
Danny Govberg’s insatiable passion for watches and technology enabled him to grow Govberg, a Philadelphia-based retail shop into one of the world’s premier authorized dealers of both new and pre-owned timepieces. With 35 years of experience in related fields, Danny envisioned years ago of a tech-forward, pre-owned watch business strategy that eventually came to fruition as WatchBox. As the CEO of the company, Danny’s vision includes “a seamless customer experience from every point across the world, with goals to educate, inspire and entertain watch enthusiasts.”
Tay Liam Wee is among one of the luxury watch industry’s most dynamic entrepreneurs having earned several entrepreneurial awards. He was instrumental in transforming Sincere Watch, a traditional family-owned company into a pan-Asian luxury watch retail and distribution group that was publicly listed on both the Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges. He exited Sincere Watch in 2012 and raised close to $100 million in capital for WatchBox. He currently serves as its Chairman.
Before teaming up with Danny and Liam Wee to launch WatchBox, Justin Reis was a co-founder and former partner of Presidio Capital, a private investment group with over US $1 billion in capital deployed throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond. In addition to his 20-plus years in private equity in Asia, Justin also has extensive experience as a consultant helping companies up-scale their operations to global levels.
The combination of Danny’s creativity and experience in the US market, with Liam Wee’s experience in Asia, and Justin’s proficiency in scaling global enterprises, has set WatchBox on an upward trajectory towards becoming one of the dominant players in the pre-owned luxury watch market.
According to analysts, the current size of the pre-owned market is estimated to be around US $15 billion annually. However, if we take into account the number of watches that have been produced and sold over the last 15 years but are not being traded, then the market had the potential to be as big as US $500 billion. The entry of legitimate and reliable entities that espouse transparency, such as WatchBox, into the market has resulted in incremental growth. The fact that collectors can trade watches with greater confidence mean that they are willing to buy new watches more frequently, thus not only increasing the overall selling velocity in the pre-owned market, but also in the primary market. WatchBox is primed to ride this growth trend.
Not coincidentally, WatchBox also has now a dedicated lounge and popup studio at the Dubai Watch Week which is running from November 20 to 24, where they will be showcasing and celebrating a curated selection of the company’s most loved pre-owned timepieces and at the same time engaging with the global watch community. At the WatchBox Lounge, visitors can get a free evaluation from the experts and get advice on buying, selling and trading preloved timepieces. Danny Govberg will also be among the speakers at the Horology Forum where he’ll be discussing the changing climate of the luxury watch market.