American pre-owned luxury watch platform WatchBox has revealed its expedition into the Chinese market with the latest appointment of Andy Zhang as CEO of WatchBox China on 14 September. The former director of Watches in China for Phillips and Business Development & Client Director at the German luxury timepiece manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne will be responsible for steering the company’s growth in the new marketplace.
The company’s office will be opening at the Bund, a protected historical district in Shanghai and one of the most bustling landmarks in the metropolis. And the brand’s first offline space, Shanghai Collector’s Lounge is set to land in China in late 2022 and will start welcoming visitors in December, with services to include collecting, selling, and trading watches.
“The lounge room will be an all-in-one stop, providing a space for in-person experiential exhibitions and meetups in addition to its retailing functions. It will be like a club with a modern retro interior style,” as told by Zhang to the Chinese media outlet Jiemian. A reservation will be required before visiting.
Founded in 2017, the start-up attracted investors including global sports icons such as Michael Jordan and Giannis Antetokounmpo. And the offline lounge room is a new business initiative introduced this year with openings so far present in Zürich in Switzerland, Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and New York in the U.S.
Despite disruptions from China’s stringent anti-COVID policies, the country continues to show a strong consumer appetite for luxury watches, resulting in a year-on-year increase of 19.3% in Swiss watch exports in the first half of 2022, surpassing its pre-pandemic results. This has bumped China up to second after the U.S. for worldwide distribution of these products, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
The growth in the primary market has also driven consumer interest in luxury watches in secondary markets, which is partly attributed to China’s second-hand luxury market boom. It is reported that China’s pre-owned luxury timepiece market saw an annual average growth rate of 20% between the years 2018 and 2021. Through a timely market layout, facilitated by quality service enabling diverse consumer experience, market players can expect to gain a slice from the market prospects.