As many of you know there are myriad places online to buy and sell watches. The online landscape is a broad and diverse mix of “buy/sell” forums and message boards, pre-owned dealers, authorized online dealers, brands who sell direct, and yes, of course “grey market” dealers. There are also a small handful of large marketplaces which serve as a connection hub for buyers and sellers. One of the most recent of these marketplaces is Chronollection. Founded in 2011 by Luc Zuelgaray and Sabrina You, Chronollection is based in France. While overall its seems geared towards a “Euro”-based audience, most of the listings are from U.S. dealers, and the platform does serve a global audience with its digital watch platform.
What impressed me most about Chronollection is that it claims a listing base of 125,000+ watches. Even though Chronollection has been around for less than a year, its listing database is largest such aggregation I am aware of, surpassing its next largest competitor (Chrono24, who has been in the marketplace for many years). As one who follows closely the online watch arena, I was curious to learn more about Chronollection, their story and their mission, so I recently put a few questions the Chronollection founders to gain some insight.
Chronollection makes money by charging dealers a modest monthly fee ($125-$500 per month) to have their watches listed; to a lesser extent, advertising revenue and a bookstore. Chronollection is primarily a place where professional watch dealers/stores advertise their inventory to a large audience of potential buyers; peer-to-peer transactions are also possible, but such listings comprise a small fraction of the total. Though the overall business model is nothing new or particularly novel, Chronollection has gained significant traction which gives the brand resources for future innovation.
Here is my short interview with Chronollection founders:
Perpetuelle: What is the mission, vision and/or business objectives of Chronollection?
Chronollection: The principal mission is to connect watch passionates with professional sellers. We also strive to provide them with a quality advertising support by offering classic and customizable marketing options.
Our business objective is to become the leader and the reference on the digital luxury watch market.
How does Chronollection differentiate itself from competitors?
The number of products available on the website (our database is the largest in the world). A User friendly interface on the website. A conciergerie service for special requests, capable of handling any particular request. A very qualitative editorial. Bookstore and accessories service.
What are the primary geographies served by Chronollection?
Chronollection has an audience coming from more than 75 countries. The dealers working with Chronollection operate from more than 49 countries. The website is available in 8 languages (soon 10.)
How can people know that dealers who offer watches can be trusted?
We work only with professional dealers, who generally have one or more physical shops. Every transaction on Chronollection is tracked by our customer care service which is in charge of ensuring that both parties fulfill their obligations throughout every process.
Are watch brands who don’t currently sell online missing out by not offering an e-commerce component to their business?
We do believe that there’s a gap between the strategy for watch brands (and all luxury goods in general) regarding online sales and the behavior of consumers nowadays. However, we think of this as a great business opportunity for us, and even if watch brands take the turn, we will already have our audience and the strength of dealing with new and used watches, which is something that brands will probably never do.
What does the future hold for Chronollection?
Our iPhone application is already available on the AppStore. We are currently the 2nd most downloaded app on the French App store. (Editor note: app is available in English and French)
We work constantly to increase the number of products available for our audience, and we work on the professional interface to provide the best service to our customers.
In my view, the biggest challenge for a marketplace such as Chronollection is the “trust” factor. As the business model is only to connect buyers and sellers, rather than take full responsibility for the transaction, there will always be the possibility of fraud. Yes, they can assist with helping to see that the transaction is successful, but ultimately the legal and financial responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the buyers/sellers. Of course, this risk is also a part of any online watch buying or selling experience — to date, no venture has really found a good and scalable solution for overcoming this risk. Having tried myself (Perpetuelle tried a peer-to-peer marketplace last year), I know what a challenge this is.
Chronollection did hint at a “surprise” for the online luxury watch market coming up in the next 2-3 months. I am of course curious to see what this will be and will post an update if appropriate.