Bala Cynwyd-based ecommerce company WatchBox, an online and mobile platform for buying and selling luxury, pre-owned watches, announced Tuesday it had raised $165 million of equity capital to scale its digital platform and expand into new markets.
The lead investors include The Radcliff Companies, The Spruce House Partnership and CMIA Capital Partners, the company said in a release. The brand has also become a popular investment for professional athletes ranging from NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to future NFL Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is also among Watchbox’s notable previous investors, as is the founders of Warby Parker and Allbirds.
WatchBox functions as an online marketplace for watch enthusiasts to buy and sell authenticated luxury watches, similar to sneaker aftermarket site StockX. It was founded in 2017 by Philly-based Danny Govberg, of Govberg Jewlers, Liam Wee Tay, former owner of Sincere Watch and entrepreneur Justin Reis.
The company is an evolution of Govberg’s traditional retail jewelry stores, and has tech hubs in Philadelphia and Hong Kong. Its platform utilizes augmented reality to help customers “try on” merchandise and the ecommerce platform accepts bitcoin.
By the end of 2022, WatchBox plans to open locations in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Dallas plus three additional international locations in Zurich, Riyadh, and Tokyo. These spaces, WatchBox said, will serve as “dynamic gathering places where enthusiasts can connect and share their love of luxury timepieces, view unique inventory, and build relationships that will enhance their watch collecting experience.”
CEO Reis said in a statement Tuesday that Jeff Saunders, CTO of Warby Parker, Eli Goldstein, cofounder of The Radcliff Companies and David Berkman, managing partner of Associated Partners would be joining the company’s board of directors.
“Our investors and partners hail from a wide range of industries, from consumer to technology, finance and professional sports, yet we are all bound by our love of watches,” Reis said in a statement. “When we founded WatchBox, our vision was to build a brand that would engender trust so that we could unite a passionate network of enthusiasts. With that foundation we are now able to use technology to create the best customer experience in the industry.”
The investment in WatchBox reflects a global trend of increased luxury watch sales during the pandemic that has driven $20 billion of growth into the aftermarket. Other similar startups hoping to take advantage of the surge in aftermarket luxury watch sales have rushed into the industry.
Always a fun time with George and the @watchbox_global @govbergwatches crew!! And hey, had to try on some fun stuff. ⌚️👀 Luckily George found some watches that fit me a little better than the chairs! pic.twitter.com/Ag4X1XZ3IM
— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) October 6, 2021
“We are reshaping the way high-value luxury is transacted online,” Reis said. “We built our proprietary concierge platform to enable efficiency and scale as we build personal connections with collectors around the world. We have an incredible group of dedicated people at WatchBox and, as we reach major milestones such as this one, I feel especially grateful to our team who have all contributed to our growth and success to date.”
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-