Wristcheck, a Hong Kong-based luxurious watch consignment retailer, raised $8 million in a seed funding spherical led by Gobi Partners GBA, which oversees Alibaba’s Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund – one of many metropolis’s largest startup funds.
“We are the first [resale], asset-light watch platform primarily based out of Asia that’s truly recognised globally,” says Austen Chu, 26, cofounder and CEO of Wristcheck. “And we’re the primary ones to really be utterly clear…consumers know what sellers web, and sellers know what consumers pay.”
Launched in 2020, Wristcheck claims the worth of its consigned watches is $80 million, a complete year-over-year progress of 75%. The startup affords mounted charges for his or her luxurious watch resales, at 8% for sellers and 4% for consumers – versus the steep margins imposed by public sale homes or particular person sellers, Chu says.
The contemporary capital will help Wristcheck’s regional growth into “underserved” markets in Southeast Asia, and the event of recent options for its web site and app. These additions embrace a digital portfolio instrument, which customers can use to catalogue their watch assortment and monitor the real-time market values of their items, and watch insurance coverage.
“Combining Hong Kong’s aggressive edge as a global-facing watch market with Wristcheck’s main staff and capabilities, we’re assured that the corporate will be capable of proceed constructing on their present momentum,” stated Chibo Tang, managing companion of Gobi Companions GBA, in a press release.
E-commerce in Hong Kong and China reveals potential, Tang beforehand told Forbes. Gobi has backed KICKS CREW, a footwear vendor that announced a $6 million Collection A spherical final March. Each Gobi Companions GBA and K3 Ventures invested in sneaker and limited-edition collectibles on-line market Novelship, featured within the 2022 Forbes Asia 100 to Watch checklist.
Wristcheck has amassed over 80,000 neighborhood members, individuals who have both registered for accounts or used the web site. Specifically, the model’s consumer base consists of youthful clients – 43% of its paying clients are below 30, the corporate says.
“The consigners are effectively over 30, whereas the consumers are below 30,” provides Chu. “It is probably the most wonderful factor to see for myself as a watch fanatic, as a result of it is displaying the passing of a watch from the older era to the following era.”
Rising from the pandemic, youthful shoppers are buoying the worldwide marketplace for secondhand luxurious watches. Nearly half of Millennials and Gen Z clients would contemplate buying a secondhand watch – at 48%, in comparison with 12% of Child Boomers – an analysis from Deloitte discovered final October, citing components together with decrease costs, gross sales of discontinued fashions and eco-friendliness.
But counterfeit objects are a thorn within the facet to manufacturers and resale platforms alike. Watches are the fifth-largest class of faked items globally, based on an OECD report from 2021. Particular person clients can discuss with the Watch Register, which tracks stolen or faked watches, by paying for its checking service. Some manufacturers have taken a proactive strategy to validating their items. Final December, Rolex launched an authorized pre-owned program for its watches, enabling clients to offer proof of their objects’ authenticity when promoting them.
Wristcheck plans to unveil an AI instrument to confirm the objects on its platform, leveraging expertise in Hong Kong and mainland China to kind by knowledge on the actions, watch bases, and particulars of every design. The corporate collaborates instantly with main manufacturers reminiscent of Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, which led a design competition at the side of Wristcheck. Within the meantime, handbook verification can simply distinguish dupes, or “clones,” from real luxurious watches, Chu says: “It is night time and day, once we see actual or pretend.”
Chu, a self-professed watch lover, says his ardour for timepieces started together with his first Flik Flak watch from Swatch. In 2016, whereas pursuing a bachelor’s diploma at NYU, he launched Horoloupe, an Instagram account to chronicle his journeys as a watch collector. As his content material gained traction on-line, he collaborated with Audemars Piguet on a limited-edition 2019 launch – and the yr after, he arrange Wristcheck with cofounder and director Sean Wong, a veteran of vogue publication Hypebeast who led the corporate’s e-commerce arm, HBX.
Years on, the younger entrepreneur is pursuing a long-term mission, as opposed what Tang described as “a fast flip.” “I moved [to Hong Kong] in July 2020 to start out Wristcheck, and it was actually robust, as a result of Hong Kong was getting into its second wave,” Chu says. “You actually simply should consider in your imaginative and prescient, and it is advisable to hope that you’ve got an awesome staff.”