Pre-owned watch e-tailer WatchBox is expanding. Having just opened their new Swiss headquarters in Neuchâtel last month—which is home to their corporate offices, a trading floor for clients to buy and sell watches, a lounge, and a content studio—the company has just announced its acquisition of Chronofy. The new business is a valuation subscription service for the pricing of pre-owned timepieces. The mobile application, website, and printed Chronofy Watch Guide enables its subscribers to identify, value, authenticated, and sell pre-owned timepieces.
Founded in 2013 by Joe Akar, Chronofy offers retailers an on-the-go pricing tool, as well as a theft-check service with access to more than 18,000 law enforcement and insurance industry databases to identify watches that have been reported stolen, are possibly counterfeit, or are the subject of an insurance claim. “We wanted to bring an immediate solution to retailers to help them get into the pre-owned business, so we started discussions with Joe and we ended up acquiring Chronofy,” says WatchBox president and chief operating officer, Amanda Ellison. “This is a great way for them to overcome the barriers without having to spend the enormous amount of capital it actually takes to get into the business.”
Founder Joe Akar had been in the watch industry as a dealer for many years before launching Chronofy and Ellison had consulted with Chronofy helping to launch the business before she came onboard as WatchBox’s president and COO. “When I came onboard as president of WatchBox, I was charged with scaling the company and taking us global,” says Ellison. “I was looking at all sorts of avenues to get us there and I thought that Chronofy truly complimented what we’re trying to do in the pre-owned industry.”
Ellison says Chronofy already has 450 users with 500 trying out their 14-day free trial subscription. Retailers and dealers can pay $375 a year for the company’s advanced subscription, which includes current market pricing, a purchase guarantee program, up to five support requests per day, reference materials, web portal access, one mobile app/web login, up to five theft checks per day, one printed guide, and one mobile add-on user. The subscription goes up by $475 a year for a subscription that includes all of those features plus two mobile app/web logins and $675 for added features such as three mobile app/web logins and a printed guide every four months.
The plan, according to WatchBox, is to eventually reach independent retailers and dealers globally through Chronofy. That would mean big business for WatchBox if the world’s watch retailers all signed up, but as brands look to internally get in on their own pre-owned sales and control the secondary market and use it as a means to manage their own stock supply, competition will be steep for pre-owned e-tailers and independent retailers alike.