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Last month Patrick Getreide, a passionate collector who has spent the past four decades quietly building what is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest privately-owned collections of wrist and pocket watches, made his collection freely available for all to see in a remarkable international touring exhibition.

The OAK Collection exhibition (OAK stands for ‘One of A Kind’) comprises 160 vintage and contemporary museum quality watches, among which are unrepeatable special orders, ultra-rare limited editions, the most valuable examples of their type and the largest number of Patek Philippe pieces once owned by the celebrated collector Henry Graves Jr. to now be held in private hands.

Patrick Getreide and a selection of the OAK Collection.

Every watch is in truly perfect condition, with the majority of examples being new or virtually unworn. All are serviced on a regular basis by a highly experienced watch maker whose working life is dedicated to maintaining the collection which, having been patiently gathered and never previously revealed, could fairly be described as one of the watch world’s ‘best kept secrets’.

Tour coming to U.S.

The OAK Collection exhibition was first unveiled in London on May 19 before embarking on a global tour. (We’ll alert our readers about the location and date for the collection’s stop in the United States.)

Patrick Getreide (center) with Patrick Cremers from Patek Philippe (left) and Kari Voutilainen.

Getreide is a remarkable individual filled with exquisite passion to watchmaking and fine horology. He has amassed the OAK Collection (which comprises more than 600 pieces in total) and is happy to share the story of why and how he came to covet, and eventually own, many of the finest watches in the world.

“As a young boy at boarding school in Switzerland, I lived among the children of some of the world’s wealthiest people – but all I had was a small, weekly pocket money allowance. I didn’t feel envy, but I did want to be like these people and their parents. It gave me what I call ‘the Count of Monte Cristo syndrome’, a determination to achieve a level of success that would give me freedom to do the things I loved,” Getreide says.

A Patek Philippe Réf. 5070J

“As soon as I achieved a moderate level of success, I began to buy watches at prices I could afford,” he explains. “Gradually, that amount increased and, little by little, the watches became better and the passion for collecting them became stronger. Perhaps strangely, I never thought of the financial aspect or that values might rise – but, thankfully, I seem to have bought the right ones at the right time,” he explains.

Over the decades Getreide has built up a small, tight-knit network of experts whom he has come to know and trust and who are now the only people through whom he acquires additions to the OAK Collection.

An FP Journe Tourbillon Souverain

In the early stages of creating it, however, he would seek-out rarities everywhere he went.

“As I traveled the world on business, I would always look for watches – but it was at a flea market in France 35 years ago that I think I acquired my greatest bargain. It was a steel Patek Philippe Reference 130 Sector, and when I saw it, I began to shake.

“I see being able to send the OAK Collection exhibition around the world both as a reward to myself for building it and as a unique opportunity to share it with the many people who are just as passionate about watches as I am, but have not been as fortunate as me in having the time and the means to acquire so many special pieces” he continues, “I really do see owning them as an honor and, with that, comes an obligation to let others enjoy them.”

A Patek Philippe Réf. 1579A

Showing the collection

Although Getreide has long wanted to show his watches to other enthusiasts, it was his son who originally suggested doing so by means of a global exhibition having spent a lifetime observing his father’s undying passion for horology.

“I have not been involved in acquiring watches for the collection, but I have been on the margins of it for as long as I can remember,” he explains.

“It has taught me that true collectors are a rare breed who simply never lose interest in the subject they love, but only want to learn more about it. There have been many occasions when I have found my father, very late at night or in the early hours of the morning, poring over watch books either alone at his desk or lying in bed, with dozens of reference works spread out around him.

“As a boy, for example, I quickly grew to understand that when he suggested we looked at a few watches on a Saturday afternoon, it would be a case of spending five hours at his side hearing about every detail and every nuance. And as for shopping for watches with him – that was always a painfully embarrassing experience for me, because he would ask endless questions to ensure that whatever he was considering buying met with his exceptional standards. Nothing must have been tampered with, cases must not be polished, dials must not have been retouched. Originality is key and the overall condition must only be pristine. These have always been the golden rules.”

The collection

The OAK Collection was displayed at The Design Museum London within a series of bespoke-designed, interconnected rooms that were recreated at each location and have taken the viewer on a tranquil horological journey comprising eleven sections, each of which could be described as a ‘chapter’ of time that encapsulates the Getreide’s appreciation of specific genres of watch, from simple, three-hand models to high complication pieces.

A rare Patek Philippe Ref. 25231J, Second Generation.

The maker most strongly represented in the exhibition is Patek Philippe. Vintage Patek Philippe models include references once owned by noted individuals including the musician Eric Clapton and the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, as well as pieces that were developed for particular uses or which display the maker’s mastery of rare hand crafts such as enameling and engraving.

A Rolex Ref. 116506, the first one ever produced.

Also remarkable is the OAK Collection’s extraordinary holding of Patek Philippe watches that once belonged to the legendary patron Henry Graves Jr, the late banker and railroad tycoon who, between 1922 and 1951, commissioned no fewer than thirty-nine watches from the revered maker.

A Patek Philippe Ref. 51311P World Timer

Of those, only around thirty are believed to have survived, five of which form part of the OAK Collection. The only larger selection of Graves watches belonging to a single entity is that on show at the Patek Philippe museum, which holds thirteen.

The Patek Philippe models in the OAK Collection account for six of the exhibition’s 11 sections, covering Calatrava, Nautilus, World Time and perpetual calendar/ complication models in addition to the aforementioned Graves and rare handcraft pieces.

From the Graves section, a Patek Philippe Minute Repeater.

Rolex too

But while the collector focuses strongly on the work of Patek Philippe, he does not do so exclusively. As a Rolex connoisseur, he has allocated three significant sections of the exhibition to its pieces, and has also dedicated an area to watches made by the ‘new age’ independents, notably Francois-Paul Journe and Kari Voutilainen. Getreide’s commitment to modern makers is further demonstrated in the fact that, during the eight editions of the biennial Only Watch charity auction, he has been the most prolific buyer, accruing no fewer than ten unique pieces with dial names as diverse as Kari Voutilainen, H.Moser, and Chanel.

Source: The OAK Collection

Patrick Getreide with Vasken Chokarian, Editor-in-Chief iW Magazine Middle East.

iW Chats with Patrick Getreide

Vasken Chokarian, Publisher iW Middle East: Since you started buying watches to collect, did you ever imagine or think that you will get to where you are right now?

Patrick Getreide: Never. Absolutely not.

 

Your Patek Philippe collection at the OAK project presentation in The Design Museum in London is scary. I was stunned to see those amazing one of a kind watches, vintage or modern, collected by one person. Why Patek Philippe?

They are simply the best. They are the “Ferrari” of watches. They are the only ones to produce excellence in every category of watchmaking: complication, sport, classical etc…

 

Is your passion for collecting fine timepieces driven commercially?

Not driven at all by commercial objectives. I have never sold any of my timepiece except one piece only since I started collecting.

 

What advice do you give to today’s collectors who find it difficult to acquire watches they wish to collect?

Save money – learn a lot about watchmaking – patience.

 

Why present the OAK Collection, especially at such a global size and exposure?

To bring forth and present the fine watch making as a piece of art. My second objective was to be able to share it with the public.

 

Are you still collecting or there comes a time when you say it’s enough?


The more the time passes the more I love collecting watches. The passion remains intact.

 

What would be the first thing that appeals to you when you decide to go for a watch?

The dial attracts me first, then I feel some chills that make think this watch is for me.

 

How important are auctions to collectors? What other ways have you followed to collect watches?

Auctions are indeed very important but I also buy from some professionals.

 

What would you say if someone approached you today to buy it all? Would you sell? Why?

I would say “NO !” – I am not a sales man but a “buyer”…

From the collection, Patek Philippe Ref. 3970R, a special order.

iW Middle East has been supporting independent watchmakers for more than two decades. However there are so many who popped out during the last decade as independent watchmakers, some making “limited” watch collections and in doing so hiking up prices to unusual and sometimes illogical levels. What is your input on that practice?

That means that the watch market is in big expansion, we never have to complain about that. Moreover certain new indies could be the “big” watchmakers of tomorrow.

 

Where would you classify your drive and passion when it comes to buying a watch even though you are advised not to?

My experts explain to me about some watches particularities but at the end, it’s only me who makes my decision. Always.

A Rare Handcrafts Patek Philippe Ref. 2482-2.

 

The first that struck me about you is your humble and intellectual personality. How difficult is it for collectors to communicate and deal with watchmaking brands who are famed for their arrogance?

If arrogance is felt, it is very simple, I am not interested. Those who are arrogant – and there are many – I don’t buy their brands. Because I was raised learning that you should always respect the customer.

 

Which timepiece or an horology piece that you always wanted to have but you couldn’t?

A Patek Philippe 1518R , pink on pink, moonphase.

 

By Laurent Martinez

I have noticed that enthusiasts, whatever their domain, generally become passionate about a subject from an early age. For Steven Posner, it started with an interest in food, then cars, and later on, watches. As a youngster, Posner wanted to become financially independent, so he worked part-time as a busboy at the fast-food joint, Nathan’s. From the front of the house he eventually moved into the kitchen where he learned how to cook, then he worked his way up to take a position at the counter where he honed his customer service skills.

Steven Posner, founder of Putnam Leasing.

After graduating from high school, Posner took a job as a driver for a Long Island car leasing company but shortly moved to work for a competitor—first as a driver then as a salesman. He continued to pursue his sales career across several leasing companies throughout the 1980s.

However, he soon realized that he wanted to venture out on his own and become a business owner. It was clear that exotic cars were Steven’s forte, so he founded Putnam Leasing and brought in Cyndi and Richard Koppelman, owner of Greenwich-based Miller Motorcars, as a partner. Today, Putnam Leasing is the leader in exotic and collector car leasing, offering cars like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, and Lamborghini, just to name a few.

Greenwich-based Miller Motorcars partners with Putnam Leasing.

Passions

Posner’s appreciation for design, beauty, and mechanics when describing cars is palatable. He waxes poetic about older cars being handmade and exalts their use of metal over plastic, genuine leather instead of leatherette, and so on. He also emphasizes that these types of cars hold their value.

He has the same type of passion for watches too, as illustrated when he spoke about his first Seiko chronograph.

Posner’s appetite for fine watches began when he was in his late-20s. He purchased a 1963 gold Rolex Oyster with a black dial for $1,600. After six years of wearing the watch daily, he got $3,000 for it. Steven realized that just like old cars, old watches could gain value as well—as long as you pick the right ones.

A snapshot of Posner’s collection.

As his Rolex and Patek Philippe watch collection grew, so too did his appreciation for vintage watches. While new models are certainly beautiful, vintage pieces are what capture his attention. He diligently checks the Instagram accounts of his preferred dealers every morning to see what they have available. He understands that developing genuine relationships with key dealers is how he can get his hands on exceptional timepieces.

A Rolex Milgauss in Posner’s collection.

Considerations before buying

Posner approaches buying watches much the same way he examines cars, which is to say he considers condition, price, rarity, and design. He doesn’t believe in buying a watch “at a good deal” if it needs too much work to get it right.

Whether cars or watches, his mantra is to always buy the best you can find, even if that means paying a higher price now because, in the end, these examples will always be worth more when reselling.

Posner’s Rolex GMT Master.

As a long-time collector, Posner always advises new collectors with limited budgets to stick to popular brands. He asserts that brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, F.P. Journe, and A. Lange & Söhne are generally sound acquisitions as there will always be a market for them. He also adds that it’s important to buy something you will enjoy wearing instead of a watch that will stay in the safe.

A Patek Philippe 5070 in platinum.

When I asked him what cars, watches, food, and wine have in common, he pointed out that wearing a nice watch, driving a nice car, or sharing a meal with friends and family in a nice restaurant can make us feel good. These are ways to enjoy the finer things in life. 

Demand will remain

Even if the world is changing, Posner believes that the world of antique cars, watches, and wine will remain largely the same in twenty years. People will continue to pay attention to status. He also believes that fine machinery, whether a car or watch, will be worth even more in twenty to thirty years than they are now.

The big brands have created the market, and demand will always be there, he says. Of course, some companies are stronger than others and Posner thinks that a brand has to offer something special to last. There will always be enthusiasts that appreciate the smells and sounds of vintage cars or the beauty of a grand complication.  

(The full interview with Steven Posner and his analysis of the exotic car market and vintage watches is available here and at blog.laurentfinewatches.com.)

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com.

 

 

By Laurent Martinez

In the world of watches, becoming a senior executive and department head at a prestigious auction house is one of the most rewarding positions to get. It is often regarded as a dream job that many want but few can attain. As expected, it’s a position that requires plenty of work, expertise and human skills.

I have had the privilege to meet and interview someone who is in this position: Richard Lopez, SVP, Senior Specialist, and Head of Online Sales at Sotheby’s.

Richard’s approachable demeanor and friendly smile are a clear indication that he loves his job and appreciates all the vintage and contemporary watches that surround him day-to-day.

Richard Lopez is Senior Watch Specialist at Sotheby’s.

When I asked Richard how he found himself in the watch business, he told me that he thought he would be an architect. But as is often the case, life had a different path for him. When Richard was an architecture student more than twenty years ago, he was looking for a job for a little extra pocket money.

One day, he passed by the famed Betteridge watch and jewelry boutique in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he saw a trainer teaching the staff how to use special software for engraving. He quickly realized that the software was very similar to the CAD programs that he used for architecture. After showing the Betteridge team that he could engrave a piece in a couple of minutes, he became the in-house engraver—and eventually added polishing to his duties.

Once Richard began learning how to solder and started training as a jeweler, he decided to take a break from school. After a handful of years as a bench jeweler at Betteridge, he switched roles to become the company’s watch repairs coordinator. Not only did he discover a wide variety of timepieces, ranging from quartz to grand complications, during this period but he also had the opportunity to learn from Swiss-trained watchmakers as part of his job. Lopez ultimately fell in love with watches and watchmaking.

Auction houses

After climbing the ranks at Betteridge, Lopez joined Christie’s as a watch specialist and online retail manager. Not long after he joined, the online Christie’s Watch Shop made its debut, which marked a major step in the company’s e-commerce strategy. Lopez’s foray into the auction house market gave him even greater access to extraordinary vintage and modern timepieces, and permitted him to hone his skills in the realm of luxury e-commerce.

Today, Lopez is head of online sales and a senior watch specialist at Sotheby’s and he is based in New York. It is a role that he took on earlier in 2020, a pivotal time for online sales due to the global pandemic.

Like most other industries, auction houses are shifting focus from live events to online channels. Since Sotheby’s will only host in-person auctions twice a year (June and December) for the foreseeable future, Lopez is responsible for launching weekly and monthly online auctions to make up for the current restrictions.

Additionally, he also has to organize lots for the two in-person auctions by curating, qualifying, and authenticating timepieces. Along with his team in the New York office, which also covers the East Coast of the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, there is the Los Angeles team. Most of the timepieces are sourced from private clients and a few dealers.

Auction houses are shifting focus from live events to online channels.

Hands-on

Lopez’s experience as a jeweler and in watch repair prepared him for his current role. It takes a certain type of hands-on experience to understand the nuances of vintage timepieces, particularly if information about a specific watch is not readily available from the manufacturers.

For instance, with vintage Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” watches, it’s important to remember that Rolex has never disclosed how many were made, how many versions there are, and the exact years they each version was produced. Unlike some other watchmakers, Rolex does not offer any type of archival or authentication services, so it is up to collectors, scholars, and professional experts like Lopez to investigate, study, and compile the information.

The record-breaking ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex.

Only with a great understanding of the watch at hand and the current market condition can an appropriate price estimate be given to the client looking to auction his or her timepiece.

Given the current times we are living in, Sotheby’s has decided to lean towards an online platform since the reach is vastly wider than the classic auction catalog. In addition to generating more traffic, an online platform provides plenty of data, such as how many clicks per page and which models have been viewed the most.

This type of information can then be analyzed to predict customer needs and potential trends. For a long time, auction houses never thought that they could convince a large number of buyers to buy expensive fine watches online. It was always understood that potential buyers had to see the watches “in the metal” before even considering placing a bid.

But that is no longer the case—seasoned collectors are happy to purchase online as long as the accompanying pictures and information are clear enough to tell the full story. Clients are also more comfortable if there is an easy return policy and if the watch is being sold by a renowned name like Sotheby’s. To further protect its clients, Sotheby’s always provides detailed condition reports and authenticity guarantees with each watch available for auction.

Strong team

Having a team that truly understands how to navigate the online luxury business is one of Sotheby’s greatest assets. Plus, the team’s ability to make quick adjustments during all the uncertainties that COVID brought about, such as working remotely while still in full control of consignments and sales, allowed Sotheby’s to execute more than twenty online events in the summer compared to some competitors that could only complete a fraction of those numbers.

Sotheby’s weekly online watch auctions list around fifteen to twenty lots for bidding while monthly online sales can reach 200 timepieces in the mid to high-end watch segment.

The two annual in-person events are where Sotheby’s showcases incredible grail watches that command attention from collectors across the globe. These auctions will maintain the customary format of a preview of the watches available at Sotheby’s, followed by an auctioneer-hosted auction in the main room.

Demand rises

The supply of and demand for top-tier timepieces remains strong and it is projected to grow. Rolex and Patek Philippe lead the charge with a slew of coveted sports watch models that have hefty prices to match their insatiable demand. Consumers who are unable to buy popular luxury sports watches in the retail market are turning to the secondary market and discovering a bevy of other watch models from the likes of Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, Panerai, and others.

Although it must be said that while brands like Rolex and F.P. Journe have contemporary watches that are highly valued in the secondary market, it is the vintage segment that is the star of that market. More and more, consumers are treating watches as investments, which can sometimes outshine gold, diamonds, and jewelry as investment pieces. The current-production steel and ceramic Rolex Daytona that retails for about $13,000 is frequently being traded around $25,000 in the secondary market—a return on investment that is hard to beat.

While brands like Rolex and F.P. Journe have contemporary watches that are highly valued in the secondary market, it is the vintage segment that is the star of that market.

As a professional in the watch industry and an avid watch collector, Lopez has learned that although a fine watch is most certainly a luxury and not a necessity, if you really want a timepiece and it fits your budget, go ahead and buy it. Not only will you enjoy the watch immensely, if you also take good care of it, it may sell for a premium in the future. His biggest advice is to keep your box and papers because a complete set will always be more valuable.

Keep your vintage watch’s box and papers.

Talent, enthusiasm, experience, and hard work can open up an array of possibilities and, as with Richard Lopez, it may even lead to a dream job where the profession is dependent on a personal passion.

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s website.

 

 

Among Rolex’s 2020 debuts, the watchmaker’s colorful additions to the Oyster Perpetual lineup will likely attract more new fans to the brand (if that’s possible) than will be drawn by Rolex’s updates to the latest Submariner.

The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual, now with a 41mm size option.

Where Rolex altered the case size by one mm (to 41mm) and updated the caliber on this year’s Submariner and Submariner Date, the Geneva giant matched these for the new Oyster Perpetual collection, but also included a wider range of dial hues, brighter dial luminescence and the premiere use within the Oyster Perpetual line of the excellent folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink extension link.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41

New size & colors

Echoing the new Submariner size, Rolex adds a 41mm case size to the Oyster Perpetual lineup in 2020, replacing the 39mm models. This means that the collection’s other 2020 debut, a new lineup of the already popular 36mm models, will be even more in demand by those who prefer a smaller size.

Oyster Perpetual 41, showing updated luminescent Chromalight. 

Rolex also expands the fun factor of this relatively affordable collection (the starting price is $5,600, compared to $8,100 starting price for the Submariner) with a slate of eye-catching colorful lacquer dials for the Oyster Perpetual 36. The include candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red and green.

A colorful Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36
Oyster Perpetual 36

But these aren’t the only dial options that will attract new fans. One version of the Oyster Perpetual 41 sports an interesting silver, sunray-finish dial with hands and hour markers in 18-karat yellow gold. A second version offers a bright black sunray-finish dial with white gold hands and hour markers.

Throughout the Oyster Perpetual collection Rolex updates the hands and markers with its own luminescent formula called Chromalight, which emits a long-lasting blue glow.

Upgraded caliber & bracelet

The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with its also-new Caliber 3230 (which powers the new, date-free 41mm Submariner as well).  This caliber enhances the Oyster Perpetual considerably, upgrading and already solid technical resume by adding Rolex’s own ultra-efficient and anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement and the brand’s Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.

Oyster Perpetual 41

For collectors who like to swap their wrist wear frequently, the new seventy-hour power reserve that comes along with the new caliber might be the most useful enhancement with the 2020 collection.

The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with Caliber 3230, now with a 70-hour power reserve.

And finally, this newest Oyster Perpetual will secure to your wrist with the Rolex Oystersteel bracelet fitted with Rolex’s folding Oysterclasp and the Easylink comfort extension link. This allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet length by five millimeters. This is the first time that this extension system has been used on a bracelet for the Oyster Perpetual range.

You can learn more about all Rolex’s 2020 debuts here.

 

By Gary Girdvainis

Chrono24 is a marketplace for luxury watches that offers buyers and sellers the opportunity to buy, and sell, pre-owned, vintage, and new luxury watches.

As iW recently discovered in an interview with Chrono 24 CEO Tim Stracke, Chrono24 does not consider itself strictly as a watch dealer, but instead call itself “a marketplace that provides a service with the technology to connect buyers and sellers, to provide transparency to the market and to make transactions safe through the platform.” Below we excerpt the highlights of our interview.

iW: How long has Chrono24 been in existence?

Tim Stracke: The website was established in 2003, and my partners and I took over the site in 2010. We were able to turn it into a real business at a time when online business was starting to evolve. Today, we have close to 300 employees as our headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany, and we also have satellite offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, and New York that run Chrono24 as a global business. However, besides operating this company together, we are also very enthusiastic about watches.

The vast majority of our employees owns at least one watch that means a lot to them – altogether, we have quite a versatile watch collection. Through this, we probably reach one out of every three luxury watch lovers worldwide (including 9 million unique viewers every month), providing them access to more than 470,000 watch listings from over 100 countries.

When you took it over in 2010 – what changed?

Tim Stracke, CEO of Chrono24

For the first seven years, Chrono24 was pretty much a classifieds site where you could find watches and contact the seller, leaving the transaction entirely between buyer and seller. We converted this into a transactional marketplace, investing a massive amount of energy into make the transaction process secure. Now, the buyer transfers payment to our escrow account, and we make sure that the buyer is happy before forwarding payout to the seller.

We also offer a lot of additional services around the purchasing process. We have a magazine, as well as a lot of data you can use to easily compare prices. One of our more interesting features is the Chrono24 Watch Collection, which enables users to upload their watches and track their watch portfolio like they would their stocks.

In addition to this, we recently added two new functions to our app: The first is our Virtual Showroom, an AR tool that allows you to try on 12 very popular models virtually. These include the Rolex Submariner Date, Omega Speedmaster Professional, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

The Chrono24 Watch Scanner allows the user to simply scan any watch and automatically identify it.

Our latest addition is called the Watch Scanner, where you can simply scan any watch with your camera to automatically identify it. From there, you can add it to your Watch Collection or even create a listing.

 

How do you gather the data for estimated watch values in the Chrono24 Watch Collection?

We extrapolate the data from the tens of thousands of transactions made on our platform every per month to establish a fairly accurate range of values. For this calculation, we include actual sales prices from past sales, as well as current listing prices on Chrono24. If we don’t have enough data to make a valid estimation – for example, for rather rare reference numbers – we also include listing prices from the past. This calculation is refreshed daily and provides a representation of a watch’s performance over time.

Also, our algorithm ignores any extraordinarily high or low sales prices to avoid inaccurate estimated values. An added value for the user here is that if they’re worried about paying too much for a watch, they can follow it in a separate section of their Watch Collection and immediately see its current and historic value to help make the decision as to which watch to buy even easier. Plus, once they’ve made the purchase, they can add it to their own digital collection to monitor its financial performance over time. We’ve done this with some of our employee’s watches. It’s fun to use.

Is the condition very important?

Of course condition matters, but with watches, it is more about the rarity than the condition in many cases. This is especially true when it comes to limited editions like the Omega Speedy Tuesdays and rare vintage models; it’s quite fascinating how these timepiece perform over time. 

You also provide a Watch Scanner tool in your app. How does it work?

It’s actually pretty easy to use: Once you’ve launched the Watch Scanner tool in the Chrono24 app, simply take a picture of the watch you want to identify. The tool compares the photo with a database of around 15,000 watches and almost 2 million images from more than 6.5 million previous and current listings on Chrono24.

Based on this data, the tool can recognize the model and provides the user with other information like the reference number and its estimated market value according to the Chrono24 Watch Collection.

So far, the tool is able to identify around 15,000 different watch models, which is a lot. But that’s just a small percentage of all existing luxury watches out there. However, since it is based on a learning artificial intelligence program, the Watch Scanner is constantly evolving. We will soon be releasing an improved version that will include a feedback function and be able to identify more models. So far, the tool has been used more than a million times – and it’s only four months old.

Do you envision a physical location (permanent or pop-up) as part of the Chrono24 formula?

Looking back ten years ago, I never could have imagined that Chrono24 would be as big or as relevant as it is today. We acquired one of our retail partners about a year ago. We did this mainly to learn what life is like on the other side of the “screen,” so to speak. We also see the potential for other services. We have partnered with Fratello Watches, and we now sell limited editions through Fratello.

As of today, we are not looking for retail locations; instead, we count on our partners and look to help them sell online. That said, we are an agile business, so it’s hard to predict the future.

What are the strongest markets for Chrono24?

Historically, Germany was our strongest market, but this was obviously due to the fact that that is where Chrono24 started. Today, Chrono24 is a global entity, with the United States and Europe leading the way, followed by Asia, which is growing very fast. That being said, the United States is one of our top-three markets in many aspects, including sales and visits. We are very proud that we have around 900,000 unique visitors from the United States every month and that there are more than 120,000 American user accounts on Chrono24.

Does Chrono24 sell more new or used watches?

It’s about two-thirds pre-owned – or “pre-loved,” as we like to call it – and one-third new watches.

Is Chrono24 a tool to help dealers move aging inventory?

We work with close to 3,500 dealers worldwide and dedicate entire teams to these strong and important partners. While many of our partners have existing storefronts, Chrono24 is becoming a more relevant part of their business, and some of our partners actually sell exclusively through Chrono24. Most dealers offer all of their inventory on Chrono24, and not only aging pieces. 

What trends do you see in the U.S.?

Overall, we see a polarization of price points. The very high end remains strong –especially among well-known and recognized brands like Rolex, Omega, and AP – while the lower end of luxury watches (let’s say under $1,000) is not as strong as it could be. Also, our American users mostly buy from sellers that are also based in the United States – more than sixty percent of all U.S. sales are domestic. Surely one of the reasons for this is the high number of American dealers on our marketplace.

Globally, it’s a different picture: Approximately seventy percent of sales on Chrono24 are made across international borders.

Chrono24 keeps tabs on global watch market. Here are just a few results of last year’s pre-quarantine figures.

What about smartwatches on Chrono24?

Based on what we are seeing, smartwatches are acting like a gateway into more traditional mechanical watches. That said, not many people are searching for Apple watches on Chrono24. It seems our customers are searching for something special, and when they want to buy a smartwatch, they go elsewhere to do their research and make purchases.

How has buying a luxury watch online evolved over the last decade or so?

I remember before Chrono24 started I would spend hours and hours researching watches online and feeling like the platforms at the time made had more of a flea market atmosphere. You would have to search site after site and numerous retailers. If each site had a few hundred options, you might have to search for a long time to find the watch you really wanted to have.

You also needed to have a lot of confidence that the individual or company that you were buying from was legitimate. We are now in a situation where we can provide global transparency, a huge selection, and create a platform that makes for secure and comfortable purchases.

How safe is it to buy a watch from Chron24 with regard to authenticity?

Authenticity is our number one priority, as is the safety and security of the entire transaction from placing to order to when it’s on your wrist. First of all, our global sales team verifies and vets every dealer before we let them on the platform – and not everyone meets our high standards.

Second, we created Trusted Checkout, a free escrow service. Once you’ve found your dream watch on Chrono24 and have come to an agreement with the dealer, you transfer the amount due to an escrow account. We only release the funds to the seller once you have received the watch and are happy to keep it.

If there are issues, our multi-lingual support team is there to help buyers and sellers and guarantee a smooth transaction. Should conflicts arise, we even have a mediation team to guide buyers and sellers toward a mutually satisfactory solution. At this time, we don’t perform physical checks of the watches; instead, we offer a no-questions-asked return policy as part of Trusted Checkout to safeguard ultimate safety for the transaction.

Do you consider Chrono24 a disruptor in the industry?

This is our role: changing the industry, changing the way people purchase watches, especially pre-owned and vintage watches. Considering our global transparency, huge inventory, and market data paired with the low cost for the service of selling a watch, I would say we are creating a new and possibly disruptive platform for buying and selling watches. Several years ago, industry leaders wouldn’t even talk to us, but this has quickly changed as they have seen the service we provide – and probably also the passion for luxury watches we share.