By Andy Hoffman
Bezel, a US online watch reseller, won financial backing from a slew of investors including former Disney President Michael Ovitz, actor and comedian Kevin Hart, recording artist John Legend and professional athletes from the NBA and NFL.
Launched in 2022, Bezel is taking aim at established watch resale platforms including Chrono24, Bob’s Watches and EBay Inc., seeking a slice of the $20 billion secondary watch market amid a collecting boom driven by US buyers.
Bezel currently has about $100 million worth of inventory listed by watch dealers and individual sellers on its website and iPhone app. Each watch sold is sent to the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, where a team of watchmakers and experts verify its authenticity and condition before it’s delivered to the buyer within three to five working days.
“We’ve got a lot of customers that weren’t comfortable to purchase watches before,” Chief Executive Officer Quaid Walker, who co-founded Bezel after working at Google, said in an interview.
EBay, the online marketplace that ranks as the biggest watch reseller, verifies the authenticity of watches priced at more than $2,000 in some markets including the US. Chrono24, the biggest online watch selling platform, holds purchase funds in escrow and gives buyers a 14-day money back guarantee. It leaves watch authentication up to dealers who use the site.
“They lose out on trust,” Walker said.
The secondary watch market boomed during the pandemic as cash-flush consumers stuck at home discovered a new hobby buying luxury mechanical timepieces. The market is expected to grow to $35 billion in value by 2030, according to Deloitte.
Bezel raised $8 million in seed funding from investors including venture capital companies BoxGroup, Courtside VC, Shrug Capital, Abstract Ventures and Operator Partners. Athletes who have invested in the platform include NBA player Kyle Kuzma and NFLers Emmanuel Acho and Marlon Humphrey. John Reardon, the former international head of watches at Christie’s, is also a financial backer.
Bezel inspects and verifies as many as 10 watches a day before sending them on to customers. So far, it’s identified at least seven fakes or inauthentic watches, including a Rolex Datejust that had been stolen and was being sold with forged papers.
More than 30% of the watches sold through Bezel are Rolex, with an average transaction price of $15,000. The company plans to expand beyond the US market later this year.
Rolex, the biggest Swiss luxury watch brand, recently entered the secondary market with a verification program for watches sold by its authorized dealers.
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