NB Herard: Watch industry luminaries Danny Govberg, CEO of Govberg Jewelers, Liam Wee Tay, former owner of Sincere Watch, and investor-entrepreneur Justin Reis, have partnered to launch WatchBox (www.thewatchbox.com), a global e-commerce platform for the buying, selling and trading of luxury pre-owned timepieces. CMIA Capital Partners, a Singapore-headquartered private equity firm, led an initial investment round in WatchBox to accelerate growth across key global luxury watch markets, earmarking over $100 million of capital to be deployed over the next 18 months to build out its multi-platform strategy.
"In WatchBox, we are backing a proven leadership team of industry veterans who offer a fresh perspective on the global luxury watch industry," said Lee Chong Min, Managing Partner of CMIA Capital Partners. "WatchBox's fast growing annualized 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. CMIA Capital Partners stands ready to back WatchBox in subsequent funding rounds to further capitalize on certain M&A and business opportunities."
Evolving from the business practices of 101-year old watch retailer, Govberg Jewelers, WatchBox has already established a profitable business model for the pre-owned watch market in the United States. With its strong presence as a U.S. market leader, the WatchBox founders realized a physical location in Hong Kong was essential. The newly opened office in the Central Business District of Hong Kong fortifies WatchBox's position as a global marketplace in the pre-owned watch category. WatchBox now operates dual headquarters, showrooms and "trading floors" or e-commerce centers, in the world's two largest watch markets.
In Asia, the leadership team includes WatchBox Chairman, Liam Wee Tay, and WatchBox Co-CEO, Justin Reis. Tay is widely recognized as one of the watch industry's most dynamic entrepreneurs. He was instrumental in transforming 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. The ascent of WatchBox represents Tay's watch industry return to transform WatchBox into a global pre-owned powerhouse.
As both an investor and operator of businesses across various industries worldwide, Reis has extensive experience working with management teams to grow their operations and scale business models to global levels. His more than 20 years of experience in private equity investing in Asia aids in scaling WatchBox across key luxury markets.
"WatchBox capitalizes 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," said Tay. "We are committed to elevating the pre-owned watch perception and experience worldwide, offering collectors an efficient digital marketplace, real time pricing data on their collections, and high-touch client initiatives anywhere in the world. Our footprint and unmatched industry experience in the U.S. and Asian markets heightens our ability to drive this change."
As the company moves to increase visibility through its e-commerce and digital services – specifically its website, mobile application and dynamic social media presence – the offline integration in key global markets is essential to WatchBox's platform development.
"We see the opportunity to build a US $500m+ business in the coming years," added Reis. "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."
Steering WatchBox from the company's tech-hub in the United States is Danny Govberg, co-CEO of WatchBox.
"With North America and Hong Kong representing the most important markets for luxury Swiss watches, the genesis of WatchBox represents revolutionary steps to elevate the pre-owned watch category," said Govberg. "Striking the perfect balance of technology, data systems and 24-7 connectedness, along with personalized service, guaranteed authenticity and value, WatchBox will become one of the fastest growing luxury online watch destinations."
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.