Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

Jasper Hauser, CEO of Pre-Owned Watch Platform Montro, On What Sets Them Apart

Finding a safe place in the crazy business of pre-owned watches.

| By Robin Nooy | 10 min read |

It is no secret the second-hand watch business has blown up in popularity in recent years, which drove prices through the roof and saw the demand for some models soaring. But with that popularity comes risk as well, as shady dealers and fake watches could very well mean spending your hard-earned cash on something that isn’t what it’s made out to be. Pre-owned watch platform Montro aims to prevent just that by working with brand-authorized retailers and pre-owned watch specialists, and we learn what sets them apart by talking to CEO Jasper Hauser.

Robin, MONOCHROME – Can you talk us through how Montro came to be, and who’s behind it?

Jasper Hauser, CEO of Montro – Montro’s story starts back in 2019 when several of my cofounders and I realized through many casual conversations that there was a major opportunity in the market for pre-owned watches. With clear needs from both sellers and buyers and an opportunity to have a much more modern, transparent, and trustworthy marketplace. All the while bringing the luxury retail experience online and making finding your next watch a pleasure while building a relationship with sellers. Supporting them to grow to be more successful in this rapidly developing online market.

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From left to right – Hessel Ruijgh (COO) Jasper van Veghel (CTO) and Jasper Hauser (CEO) for

Today Montro is lead by me as acting CEO, Jasper van Veghel as CTO and acting CFO, and Hessel Ruijgh as COO. I have a background in digital product design and am a tech entrepreneur, having worked for Facebook for years after I sold a previous company to the social media giant. Jasper van Veghel is a serial tech entrepreneur with experience in the digital security and financial industry and time at eBay under his belt. And Hessel has been active in the high-end watch business working with brands such as Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre for many years.

Can you describe Montro’s business model?

Montro brings a carefully curated list of vetted sellers and discerning buyers together on our marketplace, first and foremost, for a worry- and hassle-free high-end watch buying experience.

From a business perspective, we obviously operate our marketplace by facilitating online payment transactions. And with the help of our payments partner Adyen we are able to safely process increasingly larger sums online and offer our sellers in-store payment solutions, which can then all come together in one place. But we don’t see transactions as the only way for us to grow and differentiate.

Together with our sellers, we are also developing a set of tools and services to help provide insight into what can at times appear to be an elusive market. As well as business and inventory management tools to manage and grow their business. These are sharply priced and vertically tailored to the pre-owned market, which we are able to do on account of serving a collective of similarly operated businesses.

How has the business developed since it was first launched?

Montro’s growth has been very promising so far, even though we have only just started. Since April of this year, we offer one of the widest ranges of secure international payments worldwide, with the support of Adyen for Platforms. We’re rapidly approaching 70 internationally located sellers, who support and trust us to gather their watches all in one place. Today we have more than 8.500 watches, which already places us in the top 3 places in the world to find your next luxury pre-owned watch. Our listings are carefully balanced between all the most popular brands, for customers to choose from, all from professional sellers, all with at least one year of warranty and all easily comparable, with the name of the seller clearly mentioned, as we’re proud to work with these hand-picked pre-owned specialists.

What makes stand out from other platforms?

Though we might start repeating ourselves here, it’s about trust, reliability and a wide offering. Trust from our sellers that we support them throughout the whole process of presenting and selling a high-end pre-owned watch online. And trust from customers that they can find their first or next watch without any concern about authenticity, service, warranty, and customer care. We stick to our promises and we won’t compete with our sellers by becoming buyers and sellers ourselves.

We offer our customers reliable and independent advice and we stay true to our purpose: becoming the go-to source of reliable, authentic, hand-picked and guaranteed pre-owned watches from professional sellers and for customers who value our high standards. We’re proud to say that we are the only platform that can make these claims.

Every watch listed online comes with your “Montro Guarantee”. Could you explain to us what that means?

Every watch has at least one year of warranty, sometimes sellers add one extra year, and of course, there are also watches with a longer warranty period from the brand itself. For us it’s just a basic expression of our trust in our carefully selected sellers and their hand-picked collection of watches on offer. We feel the need to emphasize the importance of this warranty, as this also means you’re always dealing with professionals on Montro.

Everyone can buy and sell any given (pre-owned) watch, but only professional sellers can give you that peace of mind that more and more customers are rightfully looking for these days when it comes to buying high-end luxury pre-owned watches online. It was the reason we were founded and it’s what we work on every single day.

What kind of securities would I have when buying a watch through

The above-mentioned warranty that the watch has been checked by the seller, that it has been repaired/serviced where necessary, that it’s authenticated by someone who knows which red flags to look out for and that you can always return to this seller if any issue arises in at least the first year after purchase. It’s still surprising, though perfectly understandable, to sometimes see people want to hold a watch before buying it, whereas it’s the authentication by the expert seller that makes the real difference. Believe me, it’s very hard to know if a watch is fully authentic, including all the parts, if you’re not a watchmaker and trained to detect fraud or improper repairs. We take care of this risk with our selection of trusted sellers.

You also provide the option to become a seller as well, how does that work? What criteria would I have to meet?

Most of our sellers were approached by us so far, but there’s a growing number of sellers that reach out to us. Simply said, as a seller you have to be able to give our customers the warranty, trust, and peace of mind that we promise they will get. That means you have to be able to authenticate your watches, including the entire movement, you have to be able to tell your customers and prospects more about the watches you offer, and you have lived up to the warranty you give on every watch you sell.

Usually, this means our sellers either have a watchmaker on board, who’s able to repair and service the watches bought before these are sold, but there are also sellers who work with a trusted watchmaker in their network to ensure the same standard of service. Of course, a seller can’t tell much about the individual history of a watch if he doesn’t have (service) papers and/or knows the original owner(s), but for every watch, there’s a story to tell about the design, the movement, the history of the brand and the family this watch belongs to.

For example, our seller Vintage Tank Watches might not be able to tell you who originally bought a Cartier Tank Vermeil in the ’90s, but he can tell you how the Must de Cartier collection was introduced, which watches were part of it and what you should look for if you’re looking for a nice example today. The same story for Langedyk, you might not have heard of them yet, but once you see their collection and you hear their experts talking about the almost invisible differences between two Datejust 36 models, you know they have something more to offer than just a watch. And if you can bring a serious amount of choice to the Montro platform, as Juwelier Burger did, you are more than welcome to join us.

Prices on secondary markets have increased dramatically in the past few years, where do you see chances in that and how do you see that developing in the coming years?

We actually see those chances more and more over the past few months. Especially for Rolex, it was clear that there was a bit of a bubble in some prices, resulting in watches being offered ‘pre-owned’, though kept unworn in vaults like old-fashioned paper stock shares, at 5-6 times the catalogue price.

Let’s be clear, that’s not the kind of pre-owned market we would like to support. The mechanism of supply and demand is not in our hands, but I think at the moment we’re seeing a correction in the market where customers seem to say: ‘I do understand that I need to pay more to get my hands on a coveted Rolex right now, but I don’t think it justifies inflating prices as much as became standard last year.’

What are your biggest challenges in Montro’s development?

We are still in an actively growing and learning phase, so we have good challenges across the board. Right now getting our name out there, and making sure buyers know where to find us, is an area we are focusing on quite a bit. The biggest challenge is probably to make the watch business see and embrace the change ahead and around us. In a few years’ time, according to McKinsey, more than half of the luxury watch market will be pre-owned.

Some of the brick & mortar locations for pre-owned watch sellers working through

Our seasoned pre-owned specialists know that and they’ve been investing countless hours to become and stay a substantial player in this field. On the other hand, we’re still speaking frequently to larger industry players that have yet to dip their toes in this pond, unbelievable, if you ask me. We were co-founded by a traditional luxury watch retailer who saw this opportunity, McKinsey, Bain and BCG confirm the enormous potential of the market and still, many retailers leave this rapidly growing market completely to others to develop. To our gain and opportunity, I guess.

What can we expect in the next, let’s say, three years from

More of the same, but especially more of challenging and innovating certain aspects of a fairly conservative market. For example, we have only recently announced Montro Collectibles, combining our experience in all things watches with our tech heart by offering asset-backed NFTs in collaboration with our sellers. Not your average digital picture for a lot of (virtual) money, but a serious opportunity to become co-owner of an ultra-rare watch. This is exactly the kind of unexpected innovation you should expect from Montro. We disrupt, but with a lot of care and respect.

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