Philipp, congratulations on making the Forbes “30 under 30” list. Could you tell our readers who you are and what Chronext is all about?
Thank you very much, I am honoured to have been selected. I am the co-founder of CHRONEXT – a leading online marketplace for buying, selling, and servicing luxury watches. I founded the company in 2013 alongside my friend and fellow-student, Ludwig Wurlitzer, in the kitchen of our shared London flat while attending university in London.
Today, the company has grown to offer over 21,000 luxury watches for sale – be they new, used, or vintage pieces. We currently cater to over 600 retailers worldwide and take care of everything from shipment and logistics to the pre and after sale service.
The unique thing about CHRONEXT is our in-house certified watchmaking atelier, where 11 skilled watchmakers work to inspect incoming timepieces before they are placed online for sale. Each model undergoes a thorough examination for functionality, quality, and last but not least, authenticity. Should the watch meet our strict standards, it is paired with the CHRONEXT certificate, entailing 24 months of warranty with CHRONEXT, in addition to any warranty that may be provided by the manufacturer, as well as a free part revision in value of £200.
Last but not least, we also have our flagship boutique situated in Mayfair, London. Here, our clients can feel free to stop by and try on first-hand an exclusive selection of luxury watches.
You're clearly a watch aficionado, what is your favourite timepiece and why?
My Favourite timepiece is by far the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711. I have been fascinated with the model ever since my father introduced me to the world of luxury watches as a kid. It is a one-of-a-kind piece, starting with the rebellious design from Gérald Genta to the hand made components. It goes without saying that the watch is a sure investment and will only continue to rise in value over the years.
What do you think sets Chronext apart from other luxury retailers?
First and foremost, we deliver an incomparable level of security to our clients, both in terms of the authenticity and the quality of their purchase as well as the security of their online transactions. Thanks to our certified watchmaking atelier, every model that is purchased at CHRONEXT is guaranteed to be an authentic, fully functional, quality piece.
Exceptional customer service is another pillar that CHRONEXT prides itself on. The CHRONEXT experience is unlike any other. Not only do we offer a flagship boutique where our clients can browse an exclusive selection in person, but we also provide them with the opportunity to pick up their online purchases in our VIP Lounges located in Zug, Switzerland, and Cologne, Germany. This way, they can try the watch on their wrist and see how they like the feel of it before making an investment.
Most luxury retailers need some sort of investor support to launch at the right level, how did you go about funding Chronext?
When my co-founder and I first launched CHRONEXT, we were a small self-funded office for a year and a half. With the growth and success of the company, however, we were able to receive our very first series A round financing. From that, we were able to invest in our marketing activities as well as gain deeper insights into our customer journey. Today, we are proud to be backed by our supportive investors and to date, we have received 18 million USD in venture funding.
You're working with the likes of Rolex, Omega and Tag Heuer - with some of the biggest names in the luxury watch marketplace, how did those relationships develop?
It has not been an easy journey. The luxury watch industry is a very traditional one, and many of these big names are hesitant to accept an online marketplace as a means for acquiring an asset such as a luxury watch. However, I believe that the industry is slowly but surely experiencing a turning point and noticing the benefits of what an online marketplace for luxury watches could do for their brands. CHRONEXT, for example, has taken the steps to guarantee that all models offered via our site are authentic – 100% of the time. This is how our relationship with these prominent brands has begun to develop in a positive direction and we see these relationships continuing to grow and prosper in the future.
Most start-ups encounter lots of teething problems within their first years of launching, what issues have you encountered with Chronext and how did you move past them?
Thankfully I can look back at these times now and say that I have really grown and learned a lot from our past mistakes. In the end, I am very thankful for all of the struggles that we encountered, as this allowed us to learn from our missteps.
In hindsight, I can say with certainty that we didn’t always introduce individuals into our team with the right attitude. Today, I pride myself on the culture at CHRONEXT. Every single person on our team is truly passionate about their career. Our work is extremely challenging and surrounding ourselves with motivated and competent individuals is the key to our success.
What trait do you think all entrepreneurs have in common?
Persistence. When you have a dream and a vision, you will do anything that it takes in order to ensure that it becomes a reality. You will take a look at a problem from all angles in order to solve it. No obstacles or challenges are too complex for an entrepreneur to overcome.
What's the most memorable piece of business advice you've ever received?
2nd place is first loser.
You’ve had a great start to 2017, how do you plan to capitalise on that success in the coming months?
The plan is to keep growing and optimising our user experience. I won’t give too much more away but great things are in the works for 2017.
Where do you see the Chronext brand in the next couple of years?
The CHRONEXT vision is to become the leading online marketplace for buying, selling, and servicing luxury watches. Over the next couple of years, CHRONEXT will continue to expand into new markets.
After a long week at the office, how do you switch off and unwind?
I enjoy pursuing kickboxing and Krav Maga. These workouts help me increase my physical strengths as well as my mental aptitude, ensuring I’m motivated and focused by the time Monday morning rolls around.