I came across the idea of CPO in GQ magazine. I know few people that have bought anything other than the G-Shocks in their collection for retail.
There’s a few reasons for that:
- The watches that people like are often vintage models, it’s reverse of the hot streetwear and luxury ‘drop’ scene
- With the exception of sought after models from the likes of Rolex; most watches suffer from a similar depreciation curve to buying a new car
- If you’re buying a watch to wear, so I care less about the box, immaculate cardboard outer box and papers
- A quality watch is a classic example of heirloom design. Whilst they will need to be serviced every three to five years; they can also last beyond the lifetime of the owner to be handed down in families.
A number of watch dealers that were known by word-of-mouth have gone to the wall. For instance, Austin Kaye, which had been a regular fixture on The Strand longer than I have lived in London closed at the end of 2019.
Online watch resellers have taken off. Crown & Caliber and WatchBox in the US; Watchmaster in Germany and Watchfinder & Co. from the UK – are some of the biggest players. Scale, brand trust and a panel of expert watchmakers have formalised the purchase process with validation that you’re not buying a fake or a ‘frankenwatch’.
This verification is usually called certified pre-owned or CPO in the trade. At first you used to see this in the Japanese luxury resale market provided by the likes of BRAND OFF.
BRAND OFF is trusted by luxury shoppers across East Asia.
It then extended to this new breed of online resellers. Luxury watch brands have bought some of the watch resellers. For instance, Richemont bought Watchfinder & Co. Other watchmakers, now have a formal process to CPO their watches.
Previously, you would have to submit a watch in for a service to get proof that the watch was legitimate. Some brands are even reselling CPO watches including H Moser & Cie. Pre-owned items offer the luxury industry an opportunity to be more sustainable. Greater involvement in the pre-owned market also allows watch brands to get more value from their products over time.