When Hamilton Powell left his job in private equity and founded the Atlanta-based, pre-owned watch retail site Crown & Caliber in 2012, the company had just two employees and was aiming to compete in the niche second hand market that was emerging as off-shoots to eBay. Now in its sixth year of business, the company has already grown to 48 employees, 11 of which include and in-house, Swiss trained watchmaking team hailing from the top manufactures from Breguet and Cartier to Rolex and Breitling. The booming business has given the watch industry a run for its money. Some brands were quick to take note—Audemars Piguet announced in January that it would launch its own pre-owned watch business this year to capitalize on the fast-growing market and others are expected to follow suit. Even watch trade publications such as Hodinkee and Revolution have started selling pre-owned watches.
For now, Crown & Caliber still has the lion’s share of the market (although other companies like TrueFacet are aiming to be stiff competition) and Powell says their inventory is moving quickly—an average watch sells in 62 days. Their top-selling timepieces, such as their Rolex Submariners, move in just 15 days. Rolex, unsurprisingly, remains the crowning king of the business accounting for 30 percent of sales, but Omega, Breitling, IWC, and Panerai have also been coveted by Crown & Caliber clientele. Here Powell weighs in on the best-selling models of the year.