WatchBox offers market for luxury timepieces

WatchBox has launched as the first global e-commerce platform specialising in buying, selling and trading pre-owned luxury watches.

It is the result of a partnership between Govberg Jewelers CEO Danny Govberg, former Sincere Watch owner Liam Wee Tay and investor-entrepreneur Justin Reis. Singapore private equity firm CMIA Capital Partners has led an initial investment round in WatchBox, earmarking more than $100 million of capital to be deployed over the next 18 months for building out the startup’s multi-platform strategy.

“We are backing a proven leadership team of industry veterans who offer a fresh perspective on the global luxury-watch industry,” says CMIA managing partner Lee Chong Min. “WatchBox’s annualised revenue run-rate is set in the near term to exceed US$200 million. We believe WatchBox will transform the multi-billion-dollar luxury-watch industry.”

He says CMIA is ready to back further funding rounds to capitalise on “certain business opportunities”.

Evolving from the business practices of 101-year-old watch retailer Govberg Jewelers, WatchBox has already established a profitable business model for pre-owned watches in the US, with the founders realising the need for a physical location also in Hong Kong, where it has opened an office in the CBD. WatchBox now has dual headquarters, showrooms and “trading floors” (e-commerce centres) in the world’s two largest watch markets.

Industry veterans Danny Govberg and Liam Wee Tay unite with investor-entrepreneur Justin Reis to join together the two largest watch markets with the launch of WatchBox .

Industry veterans Danny Govberg and Liam Wee Tay unite with investor-entrepreneur Justin Reis to join together the two largest watch markets with the launch of WatchBox .

Asia’s leadership team includes Tay as chairman and Reis as co-CEO. Tay transformed Sincere Watch from a traditional family-owned company into a pan-Asian luxury-watch institution, taking it public in both Singapore and Hong Kong before selling in 2012.

“WatchBox capitalises on the estimated $400 billion global pre-owned watch market by embracing advanced technology to offer consumers a scalable platform to buy, sell and trade pre-owned timepieces through a trusted partner,” says Tay.

As it moves to increase visibility through its e-commerce and digital services – specifically its website, mobile application and social-media presence – Watchbox regards offline integration in key markets as essential.

“The watch industry is going through a period of consolidation, and the timing is right to build a robust and trusted global trading platform in the pre-owned category,” says Reis, who has had more than 20 years of experience in private-equity investing in Asia.

Steering WatchBox from the company’s tech hub in the US is co-CEO Govberg, who says Watchbox offers a balance of technology, data systems and 24/7 connectedness, along with personalised service and guaranteed authenticity.

WatchBox has 130 global associates, showrooms and private offices in Hong Kong and North America, and plans to further expand into other regions across Asia and Europe within the next year.  

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