Skip to main content

Timeless passion, sustainable watches and the future of luxury marketplaces

A conversation with Chrono24’s Chief Executive Officer

Chrono24, founded in 2003, drawing an average of 9 million users monthly, is the leading online marketplace for luxury watches worldwide. Tim Stracke, Chrono24’s CEO, shares his views about growth, customer experience and the long-lasting appeal of a luxury timepiece.

Global Retail Outlook 2024: Industry perspective

As a part of our recent report, Global Retail Outlook 2024, we asked 200 retail leaders across the globe to provide their expectations for revenue and operating margin for the industry as a whole. Over the last few months, we have also gathered the industry perspectives by interviewing some of our clients and below is an excerpt of one of such conversations with Chrono24.

Customer experience

But Chrono24 is certainly not child’s play. Tim, who took over in 2010, attributes its success to being in the right place at the right time. “Of course, some purchases will always be made in a physical store,” he says. “But we’ve proven that the digital realm has a very important place in the luxury shopping experience.”

Personally, Tim admits that the retail store experience often doesn't quite hit the mark for him. “Sure, it exudes a sense of luxury but I don't think it's relaxed. It sometimes feels like more like 90s kind of luxury. Where you may get a free glass of champagne or a free espresso, but when you really want to talk watches, a lot of sales people don't really have that experience but still try to sell you something. I really dislike that pressure. And in the same time it takes for the shop assistant to come and get you at the door of the physical store, you can see hundreds of watches while scrolling on our platform. I think that's is luxury to me, even if I don’t get a free espresso.”

The rise of the smartwatch: helping or hindering the luxury market?

Tim then delves into the tech-meets-tradition discussion around the impact of smartwatches on the luxury watch market, suggesting that, contrary to what people might think, smartwatches might actually have contributed to the success of luxury watches in the US. “In the midst of the smartwatch success story, luxury watches seem to be holding their ground, if not thriving even more.”

In fact, according to Tim, the shift from 44% to 55% of people sporting wristwear is primarily propelled by the smartwatch trend. Having both a smartwatch and a luxury timepiece, is a trend particularly prominent in the US at the moment. “The luxury watch industry would rather see people having a smart watch than having an empty wrist. And since the smart watch has a very high penetration in the US, that was likely also a driver for the success that we're now seeing in the luxury watch market in the US.”

Understanding Chrono24's consumer landscape

Chrono24's consumers predominantly skew male, with a notable emphasis on the 18 to 34 age group. Tim acknowledges the challenges in attracting female consumers but does see an increased number of female customers in the US, potentially fuelled by the growing availability of female-focused models. “We are seeing more unisex models in the market, which our female customers are fond of. Interest among our female customers has shifted, with nearly one-third now opting for unisex watches featuring a case diameter of 40 mm or larger. This preference has seen a consistent upward trend over the past five years.But studies show that women often also appreciate something that is specifically for them.”

The role of trust in online luxury purchases

Online luxury purchases bring their own challenges. With two-thirds of Chrono24’s transaction volume generated from pre-owned watches, customers particularly have concerns about authenticity. Tim therefore underlines the significance of trust and the role of data and technology in achieving that trust. “We put great effort into establishing trust through secure transactions and we are committed to safeguarding customers' funds until they are fully satisfied with the purchased watch.”

Trends, challenges and the future

Discussing current trends, Tim sees stable prices in the luxury watch market and applauds Chrono24’s resilience during market disruptions. When discussing the stability and future of the watch industry, he expresses long-term optimism despite some of the short-term uncertainties. This optimism is partly related to the sustainability of luxury watches. "Watches have an enduring appeal and they’ll probably outlive you and me and even our house. Probably everything that I own will be outlived by my watch collection and that's a fantastic feeling," he concludes.

Read our full report 2024 Global Retail Outlook to deep dive into more such industry perspectives.

Tim Stracke, Chief Executive Officer, Chrono24 says

“I spent a lot of time building technical Lego and radio-controlled planes and cars. The first time I saw a Swatch watch with a glass floor, revealing its fine mechanics, I was hooked. And now, at Chrono24, I can bring together this passion for mechanics with my passions for entrepreneurship, watches and marketplaces. It feels like being in a playground; it doesn't feel like a job.”

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey