The Online Watch Market – Peter Kramer from Troverie
Deciphering the world of online market places.
Following our series of articles about the “Online Watch Market“, we take a look at a player with an original business model in this ultra-competitive market: Troverie. Its idea is to make things easy and secure, being backed by the original manufacturers’ guarantee. Peter Kramer, their COO, shares with us what differentiates Troverie from other online watch retailers and his ambition for the future.
Can you give us a quick history of Troverie?
Troverie is a new omnichannel luxury watch retailer, giving consumers a new destination to shop for watches that are fully guaranteed and protected by the manufacturer. Troverie is a nationwide, fully-authorized shopping experience, supported for the first time by the leading luxury global watch manufacturers and the leading independent jewellers across the United States. We have over a dozen Swiss and German brands involved: Bell & Ross, Blancpain, Breguet, Breitling, Bvlgari, Girard-Perregaux, Glashütte Original, Hamilton, Longines, Movado, Nomos, Omega, Raymond Weil, TAG Heuer, Ulysse Nardin, and Zenith.
The watch industry at large has not significantly addressed, to this point, the online sales component of consumer shopping trends. In fact, as a result, a ‘grey market’ arose in the watch industry selling unauthorized watches. Troverie aims to fill this service gap with its integrated offering with fully-protected authorized watches from a collective, nationwide inventory. We aim to provide the widest and deepest assortment of any authorized player online, where every watch is new, available in real time and guaranteed authentic while being backed by the manufacturers’ original warranty. This is something the other players, in particular, the grey market players cannot do and we think this is going to be important to customers as we build up the Troverie brand.
Troverie’s leadership team is filled with industry veterans who have a collective 100+ years of experience. We know the ins and outs of the business on a global scale and created Troverie from that knowledge and insight into what is missing in the marketplace.
What brought you with Troverie?
I’ve been working in the luxury watch & jewellery industry for almost 20 years. After spending my entire career on the brand side, I had a clear understanding of the pain points for authorized retailers, especially as online and mobile transformed luxury watch sales. The independent retailers were left to sell as they always had: in person, over the counter and not taking full advantage of the power of online.
During my time at Cartier, I met Fred Levin, Troverie’s CEO, who at the time had just started a retail measurement company called LGI Network (later acquired by the NPD group) – a true pioneer in using distribution and sales data in an objective manner for the watch and jewellery industry. Around 2003, as he was launching the business, he came to Cartier asking us to subscribe to the monthly data and analysis that LGI was providing to brands and retailers. Fred and I immediately had a connection and we stayed in close contact over the years, as he was an information provider to me and the companies for whom I worked including Chanel & Breguet. I always had hoped to find a way to work with him in a larger capacity.
In 2017, as the grey market of unauthorized luxury watch sellers continued to grow, Fred came to me with the initial concept for Troverie. The idea grew out of a request from the independent jewellers themselves, who were selling 90% of the luxury watches sold in the US, but were unable to sell online, a channel that was essential to the future of their businesses yet they were ceding the online conversation in large part to the grey sellers. Fred asked me to join him in creating an online solution that would allow for these multi-generation jewellers to be able to sell their inventory online for the first time. I jumped at the opportunity to build the largest online, authorized destination that is Troverie, and the rest is history.
Who is behind Troverie? (investors and management team)
Our executive team brings a collective 100+ years of industry experience and passion across all aspects of the watch business – across e-commerce, data and customer analytics, brand and business development. They have worked with the likes of Cartier, Chanel, Breguet, The Movado Group, LGI Network, and The NPD Group.
Our initial rounds of investment have been from private investors. A very significant part of this includes our local jeweller partners. We think “who is not involved” is equally important. Despite many requests to initiate investment discussions, no watch company is an investor to protect our platform from product bias.
What is your business model?
Troverie’s platform is designed with the customer in mind; we want to help you find the perfect new watch on your terms. You have the flexibility of shopping online or on mobile, at home or on the go, and you can talk with us 7 days a week and we’ll help guide you in the right direction. Our collection is in-stock and ready to ship when you buy it. We are selling watches that our retail partners currently have in stock that are ready to ship immediately.
A customer can buy a watch on our site and have it delivered directly to their home or office or, if it’s available nearby, pick it up in person at a partner retailer. A Troverie ambassador is assigned to each order from our Jeweller partner to make sure the client’s preferences are fully addressed – from sizing to shipping.
What differentiates Troverie? What do you bring to your clients?
Troverie offers unparalleled brand assortment, online and offline expertise, the official manufacturer’s warranty, genuine product offering, and a truly elevated shopping experience. The purchase is on your terms, from the comfort of your own home, office or mobile device.
We offer concierge service which can attend to every need by phone, e-mail or live chat while the customer browses Troverie’s exquisite collection of over 1,000 watch models. Troverie experts are standing by to answer every question before, during, and after your purchase – from personal shopping requests to shipping queries. Everything we feature on our site is in stock and ready for immediate fulfilment.
Troverie provides the ease of online shopping with the added human support of hand-selected expert jewellers, and all of our watches are guaranteed authentic watches authorized by every brand we carry and always backed by the manufacturer’s warranty – something you do not get with a grey market dealer.
Finally, Troverie provides access to the luxury watch market not found in most places around the US. Due to the structure and restrictions of the watch industry, many customers don’t have access to a luxury watch shopping experience unless they are on business or holiday or live in a major market. Today’s distribution is clustered in the top 25 geographic markets in the country, but the US is a huge country with over 200 serious markets. We provide an extraordinary experience in those markets that do not have other alternatives.
What are your key challenges?
We are facing challenges on two sides of the equation: the brands and consumers.
Traditionally, the Swiss watch industry has been slow to warm up to online sales and ceding the online retailing conversation to grey market players. We are helping to take back control of the dialogue and helping these brands fundamentally change their approach to online sales while supporting their retailers whilst delivering a superior experience to their end clients. We have been fortunate to partner with 17 of the leading brands, many of which are among the best watch companies in the world and gain the incredibly elusive, yet essential, authorization to bring this product online with the help of a highly-skilled, partner network.
Consumers are often unaware of the risks of purchasing online from a ‘grey market’ dealer until after they complete the purchase. We are trying to educate customers about these risks so they make a more informed, safer purchase for the long term.
What are your plans for the next three years?
As a startup, we have achieved a lot to get to this point, but we still have much work to do. But, right now we are laser-focused on educating customers about our platform and building trust with them as a brand and resource on luxury watches. We’ve created a platform that is built with the customer in mind all to provide a superior level of service and experience.
From a business standpoint, we are also working to bring on additional top luxury brands, new authorized, independent retailers as partners, and building out our omnichannel capabilities.
What are the key trends and perspectives for the watch market?
We’re seeing a major trend back to vintage, classic looks. Heritage brands are leaning into this rebirth by bringing back vintage-inspired pieces. We are also experiencing a movement back to smaller case sizes, such as the 39mm. The bigger is better movement is certainly slowing. Customers are much more discerning about value for money. They are seeking a $5,000 watch that looks like a $10,000 watch. Manufacturers are designing watches with this discerning customer in mind since the choices in product have never been greater.
Retailers are finding that customers are more educated now than ever before, thanks to the ocean of information available online. We know that is where they want to shop, so now the race is on to create the best platform with a superior experience, luxurious look and feel, and vast brand assortment.
How do you analyze the market?
It’s no secret there have been significant changes in our industry over the last half year. There’s more evolution in our industry within the last 12 months than there has been in the last 12 years. Most importantly for us, brands are truly starting to warm up to the idea of online sales, and have allowed us to create – as Georges Kern of Breitling has said – a triangular system between the brands, retailers, and us. We are creating this unified system so consumers can have the best possible, omnichannel, multi-brand shopping experience.
In terms of how we assess the market, we pay a great deal of attention on consumer behaviour and understanding the circumstances that come with their shopping process – when are they shopping, where are they shopping – desktop or mobile, what is motivating them to shop. Similarly, we keep a watchful eye on the moves made by manufacturers and retailers in this changing climate.
What is your advice for collectors?
The internet has been the greatest gift for collectors and the broader watch community. Consumers have never been so informed at the time of purchase as they are now. With all that in mind, a few pieces of advice :
- Don’t buy to profit financially. Buy what you love.
- Wear it and love it. The joy of the watch is being able to wear it, to see it, and feel it and build an emotional connection with it.
- Not wearing something anymore? You can now trade in and trade up to something new that you want, all in one secure and transparent transaction through our partnership with Crown and Caliber.
What will be your next personal watch acquisition?
I’ve always been fascinated by the Omega Professional Speedmaster thanks to its heritage in the space program. I want the classic black dial chronograph and stainless steel bracelet. It’s a watch I’ll wear for years and, eventually, hand down.