By Hamilton Powell, Crown & Caliber founder and CEO
Elevator Pitch: Selling a watch is difficult. Crown & Caliber makes it easy.
Purchasing a watch is easy—you just go to the mall and can buy basically whatever you want.
But selling a watch is tough, ‘scammy’ and frustrating. Your options tend to be Craigslist, eBay and the local second-hand jeweler (think leisure suit, comb over and pinkie ring). We help customers sell all sorts of luxury watches such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breitling, Omega, etc.
A watch is a unique item to sell. It’s much harder to sell than an everyday item such as an iPhone. This is because: 1.) there are a lot of fakes out there; 2.) the movement of a watch is as complex as a car, so many buyers question functionality; and 3.) these are high value items, so buyers can’t make mistakes.
Crown & Caliber makes selling a watch easy. We are the first exclusive consigners of watches on the web. A watch owner can visit our site for a free quote. Our valuation team will review your request and will make you two offers:
Consignment Offer: We will sell your watch for you in 60 days or less. We will provide you with actual historical sales data for your watch. Using this data, we will provide you with an estimate of what we believe we can sell your watch for over a 60-day period. Our team will clean, service, professionally photograph and list your watch. It will be listed on our site as well as multiple other sites. The watch will be sent out via email to our 50,000-plus individual buyers and over 300 dealers. During this 60-day period, we will guarantee you an offer within our original estimate.
Cash Offer: If you just want to be done with it and sell your watch, we can make it happen immediately.
Upon acceptance of our offer, we will send to you pre-paid and insured packaging (at our expense). Once we receive your watch, the process will begin.
In 2011, I sold a couch on Craigslist. A man in a van showed up with $400 cash to my office at 9 pm. It scared the heck out of me. So I started thinking about the downsides of Craigslist, and it led me to search for common categories that are more valuable, and therefore even scarier to sell than couches. I typed in several search terms and when I typed in ‘Rolex’ I was amazed at how many people were trying to sell their watch. I knew there had to be a better way to sell a watch. I wondered why, in an age where people can use the Internet to buy and sell virtually anything—from cars to iPhones, why there was no safe, secure way for watch owners to sell their valuable watches.
PR, SEO, and PPC—these are the three ingredients to our success. I think too many people watch The Social Network and believe that anything online-based is easy. It just happens—for some reason, the same principles that apply to brick-and-mortar don’t apply to online retail. That is simply not the case. You have to be seen (PR), you have to be found (SEO) and you have to advertise (PPC). We have an incredible service. Our reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and customers love this. In fact, on multiple occasions we have had our customers approach us about investing in our company. The key to our success is getting the word out into the world of watch enthusiasts.
In 2012, there were over $20 billion in brand new Swiss mechanical watches exported worldwide—an increase of almost 16 percent over 2011. Baselworld, the most popular watch industry trade show, built a new $460 million facility to accommodate the increased attendance at its annual convention in Basel, Switzerland. Fueled in part by Asian demand, which has admittedly slowed a little recently, the Swiss watch industry has enjoyed tremendous growth. So each year, there are more-and-more brand new watches sold at retailers worldwide. As a result, every year there are more-and-more watches that graduate from the new market to the pre-owned market. Yesterday’s new is today’s used.
Because most retailers do not buy or sell pre-owned watches, these watches instead reside with mom-and-pop watch dealers, on eBay or Craigslist, or at auction houses. This underworld of the secondary market is highly fragmented, and is not dominated by large retailers.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
An individual looking to sell a watch tends to care about three things: price, ease and trust. We have intentionally built our company in a way so that we dominate each of these three categories:
Price: Watch owners get more for their watch by using us. Our consignment service allows our team to work for the customer and get them the most money possible for their watch.
The problem with all of the ‘watch buyers’ out there is that they are going to buy your watch for X then sell it for Y. Most likely, you are getting ripped off, and don’t even know it. You would be pretty upset if you could see what they end up reselling your watch for.
We believe this is an outdated model, and that customers today demand and deserve transparency. By consigning your watch with Crown & Caliber, you will know exactly what your watch sells for, and have absolute confidence you got the best deal possible.
Ease: Not only does our process allow for the highest price possible, but you never have to leave your home. We will send you, at our expense, pre-paid and insured packaging materials. Once you place your watch in the packaging materials, FedEx will come to your home and pick up the package and deliver it straight to our secured facility.
Trust: Our many testimonials are a credit to the trust we have earned. Our team has been hand-selected and assembled because off their belief system. We all believe that we are serving a customer—not a transaction. We believe that we have an opportunity to create a positive outcome for a customer. That is what fuels us, and our past customers will tell you that belief system is evident from the first conversation all the way to the time payment is received.
What’s great about our business is that we make money only when our customers make money. Our consignment fees are only paid once the watch sells at a price acceptable to our customer, and therefore, we have to be really good at selling watches (which we are, fortunately). Once the customer’s watch sells, we send them the sales proceeds less our fee.
We have spent the last two years refining our model, getting good at what we do and assembling the team. Metaphorically, the machine has been created—and it works great. Our biggest need now is to get the word out to as many people as possible. This is the best way to sell a watch.
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Founder: Hamilton Powell
Year Founded: 2011
Investors: Powell Growth Capital, LLC