“There’s so much secondhand product on the market. We wanted to be there as a direct connection to the consumer,” said Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, whose United States e-boutique opened three years ago. (Chopard’s online operation has since expanded to Britain.)
Indeed, the proliferation of pre-owned watches online — on sites like Crown & Caliber and Bob’s Watches — can be traced to the 1980s, when men began accumulating timepieces, said Danny Govberg, owner of Govberg Jewelers in Philadelphia, a company established in 1916.
Two years ago, the watch retailing company introduced an app, Govberg OnTime, for iOS and Android devices, designed for people who want to buy, trade and sell new and pre-owned watches.
“In 2009 — one generation later — when gold hit $1,800, women stood in line to sell their gold jewelry, but men did not liquidate their timepieces because the knowledge of what to pay for them wasn’t there,” he said.
“So the men just kept the watches in their drawers. It’s been a 25-year accumulation.”
By offering clients click-to-buy capability, transparent pricing, on-demand education, videos, phone support and, last but not least, a brick-and-mortar showroom complete with a touch-screen TV to explore the store’s online inventory, Mr. Govberg represents a handful of online upstarts showing the primary watch market how omnichannel retailing is done.