The corona crisis has given the luxury watch trade on the Internet a boost. But the business is also getting a tailwind from longer-term drivers. “We are currently seeing the millennials as impulse buyers who are predestined for online purchases,” said Philipp Man, CEO of Chronext, the Swiss luxury watch retailer is now planning to go public. According to analysts’ estimates, the secondary market, i.e. the market for used timepieces, is growing faster than the market for new watches and has a volume of around 20 billion dollars. “It is mostly online, transparent and attracts younger buyers who trade in the products and invest in watches as an asset class,” it says. More and more of the hitherto very traditional manufacturers would cast off their skepticism towards this business.
Chronext sells used and new watches from brands such as Rolex, Omega or Patek Philippe via an online platform and is now aiming for a listing on the SIX Swiss Exchange in the fourth quarter, as the company announced. The headquarters are in Switzerland, but most of the operational business is carried out from Cologne. As part of the transaction, the company wants to place new shares with a volume of around CHF 250 million. In addition, the existing shareholders, which include a number of financial investors and the founders, are also likely to sell shares. According to an insider, these could reach a volume of around 100 million francs.
Chronext did not provide any information on the targeted market value. According to speculation, this could reach up to one billion euros. Chronext, founded in 2013, grew by 18 percent to 101.3 million euros in 2020. In the current year, the company is aiming for an increase of around 40 percent. Half of the proceeds from the IPO should flow into acquisitions and the other half into the existing business. So far, the company has mainly been active in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Great Britain; France, Italy and the Netherlands were added last year. Chronext also wants to enter the Asian and US markets. The company currently has more than 120 employees.
Chronext sees itself as a luxury company and also offers customers the opportunity to view the watches in one of their boutiques before buying and to pick them up there after buying them online. Experts also check the watches for authenticity. Competitors include the German Chrono 24, the Richemont subsidiary Watchfinder, the American Watchbox and Ebay. Chrono 24 from Karlsruhe recently took prominent new investors on board before a possible IPO, including LVMH major shareholder Bernard Arnault.