The global luxury watch market is huge. And – according to Forbes magazine – it’s also resilient. While all luxury retailers experienced a dip in 2020 as the pandemic took hold, the watch industry has shown more positive signs than most. (You could say it’s ticking over nicely…) If you’re a luxury watch enthusiast in Hong Kong, or you’re looking to buy a good watch or sell one you don’t use anymore – and at a good price – there’s an online platform for doing exactly that: Chrono24. It’s also a great resource for checking the current market value of your piece of wrist candy, whether it’s new, used, pre-owned or vintage. We find out more about how it works.
A luxury watch marketplace
Launched in 2003, and with offices in Germany, the US, here in Hong Kong and other locations, Chrono24 is well known among commercial watch dealers and private sellers around the world. In fact, many Expat Living readers with even a casual interest in watches may be familiar with the site. As an intro for the rest, here are some stats:
Current number of watches listed on Chrono24: Approximately 500,000
Total value of listings: HK$36 billion
Number of sellers/dealers: 20,000
Number of languages available on different Chrono24 portals: 22
Number of daily visitors: Around 500,000
Annual sales: In 2019, around HK$13 billion
If you’re loyal to a particular brand, you might also want to know how many of “your” brand’s watches are featured. At the time of writing this post, you’ll find approximately 68,000 Rolexes, 35,000 Omegas, 19,000 Seikos and 14,000 TAG Heuers. A less common watch – let’s use a Cerruti 1881 by way of example – may only have a few dozen listings.
There aren’t too many brands you won’t find. There are more than 700, in fact, from Cartier, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet to Santos, Seamaster and Speedmaster.
How it works
It’s a straightforward process to buy a watch from one of the commercial dealers or private sellers listed on Chrono24. Many of the listings have a green “Buy” button on the page; click on the button and you can then transfer payment to a secure escrow account. The money gets held there by Chrono24 until you get the watch in your hands; then the funds are released to the dealer or seller.
Some sellers don’t offer payment processing in this way; you’ll need to contact them directly (there’s a “Contact seller” button, or you can give them a call). Then it’s a matter of private negotiation to agree on a price, and shipping is done directly by the seller.
To sell a watch, you just need to create a listing – and there’s a Listing Assistant to help you through the steps. You’ll just need some details about the timepiece, and a few photos. The site also has a free appraisal tool to give you a guideline for setting a price.
The sales process works in reverse from buying. You only send the watch after the buyer has transferred the purchase price to the Chrono24 escrow account. Once the buyer gets the watch, you receive the funds. There’s a 6.5 percent commission on sales; that means if you sell that Vacheron Constantin you no longer want for HK$15,000, Chrono24 will take HK$975.
Also, as with all classifieds-style sites, there are precautions you ought to take before buying or selling. Do your research, ask questions, make use of Chrono24’s various security features (the Verified Dealers list, for example, and Buyer Protection) and so on. And bear in mind, too, that buying from a Hong Kong seller (or selling a watch to a HK buyer) will be an easier process than overseas, which involves international shipping.
The Chrono24 app includes a nifty scanner!
You can choose to use this watch marketplace via the website, or by downloading the company’s app for on-the-go access. Available for iOS and Android, the Chrono24 app allows you to manage your favourite timepieces, track financial performance, receive notifications about prices, and communicate with buyers and sellers.
One cool new feature of the app is Watch Scanner, which makes it easy to track down the watch of your dreams; all you need is a photo of it on your phone. Say you see something you love the look of on an Instagram post or in the pages of a magazine, for example; unless you’re an expert, it’ll take a lot of work to check through model names, movement types and other specs to identify the precise item. The Watch Scanner does all that for you. It compares your photo with a database of 6.5 million listings in order to ID the brand, model and reference number. Plus, it will give you the timepiece’s estimated current market value!
There’s plenty more to unbox on Chrono24. The website and app have a whole range of services and features that, frankly, make the process of buying a shiny new watch as a present to yourself or selling a vintage timepiece you’ve stumbled upon in an old drawer more interesting and rewarding than it might be otherwise.
Find out more at chrono24.hk.
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