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“The digital adventure is only just beginning”
Point of View

“The digital adventure is only just beginning”

Monday, 12 December 2016
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Anaïs Georges du Clos
Freelance journalist

“Nothing great has been accomplished in this world without passion.”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

“All thoughts are permitted; writing demands reflection.”

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4 min read

Bought in 2010 by three e-commerce specialists, Chrono24 has quickly grown into the biggest online marketplace for new and pre-owned watches. More from Tim Stracke, co-founder of the site.

How did it all begin?

Michael Krkoska, Dirk Schwartz and I had been working together for 12 years. We specialise in e-commerce and set up several marketplaces in the 2000s which we sold prior to buying Chrono24 in 2010.

Who's behind Chrono24?

We employ around a hundred people. These include around fifteen developers in charge of maintaining and improving the site, something like twenty people working on content, and another thirty or so for customer relations. The site supports twenty-two languages in all. Internet is just a means. Behind the screen there are real people.

What does Chrono24 represent on the watch market?

Chrono24 has over 290,000 new and pre-owned watches online, and more than 10 million visitors per month from 96 different countries. We make around 120,000 transactions a year, worth more or less €750 million.

Contrary to popular belief, it's often easier to sell a €50,000 watch online than one at €3,000.
Tim Stracke, co-founder of Chrono24
Who buys on Chrono24 and which are the most sought-after models?

One out of three searches is for a Rolex! Our customers are young, more than 25 years old, and 80% men. Average price is roughly €6,000. Pre-owned watches account for 70% of sales and new watches the remaining 30%. Sales volume is stable throughout the year, peaking in the run-up to Christmas when there is also a considerable increase in the number of women customers. Contrary to popular belief, it’s often easier to sell a €50,000 watch online than one at €3,000, because the clientele for this type of product has a good understanding of the subject, and has the reassurance that at this price level, the watches are often personally delivered.

Chrono 24
Some people do still have reservations…

A lot of people are still reluctant to buy online, but attitudes are changing. When you think that fifteen years ago, some people couldn’t even see themselves buying a book online. Now nobody thinks twice.

What do you say to buyers who are worried about fakes, and sellers who are afraid they might not get paid?

We thoroughly screen all our sellers, who must have two recommendations from approved sellers before they can work with us. For payment, we recently introduced Trusted Checkout: once the deal has been made, the buyer pays the money to an escrow account where it stays until they receive the watch, at which point the money is transferred to the dealer. If the customer isn’t satisfied, he or she has 14 days to return the watch, and receives a refund once it has been received by the dealer. Therefore the buyer is guaranteed to take delivery of the watch or be refunded, and the seller is guaranteed to be paid or get the watch back.

We launched Finejewels24, the equivalent of Chrono24 for jewellery, as well as our own online boutique where manufacturers can directly sell to buyers.
Tim Stracke, co-founder of Chrono24
How did you become number one?

Thanks to our selection of sellers, and thanks to the site’s performance. Internet is what we do. The 10 million people who visit our site each month leave a trail of information. This data is anonymous, but we can analyse it to get a closer understanding of who our customers are, and what they want. That’s the power of big data.

And how do you intend to stay number one?

So far we’ve relied on natural referencing. We recently won the backing of American investors, and we’ve launched Finejewels24, the equivalent of Chrono24 for jewellery, as well as our own online boutique where manufacturers can directly sell to buyers.

Chrono24
Brands are beginning to sell their watches online themselves. Have they contacted you?

Yes, we do talk to the brands. We explain how our powerful algorithm – which we master – has a considerable impact on sales by pushing some products rather than others. We’ll shortly be announcing partnerships with a dozen independent watch brands.

How do you see the future for watchmaking?

Bright! We’re convinced that smartwatches will inspire young people to develop an interest in traditional watches, and that they will never replace haute horlogerie. The digital adventure is only just beginning!

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