Wrist Aficionado Founder Eddie Goziker On The Growth Of The Watch Resale Market

Lindsay Judge   |   15-06-2024

In 2017, before COVID-19 changed the world, watch resale expert Eddie Goziker was just getting started on his online resale concept that focused on some of the worlds rarest and most in-demand timepieces.

Alongside his partner Vadim Yakubov, Goziker realised the potential and demand for second-hand or pre-owned watches as it became increasingly difficult for collectors and clients to get their hands on new models from some of the industrys big players. The industry was booming, and demand was far outgrowing supply and availability, thus meaning to get the watch they wanted, many clients were looking outside of the traditional retail channels to buy watches, turning to resale dealers to track down specific models and to get them much quicker than the brands themselves could provide them.

Business grew, and in 2019 Goziker opened Wrist Aficionados first physical store in New York City. Today, after cruising on the back of the post-Covid luxury boom, business is thriving for the American-born entrepreneur. The resale market has grown exponentially over he past few years, with many turning to concepts such as Eddies to have any chance of getting their hands on the latest timepieces. As Wrist Aficionados success continues to grow, we talked to Goziker to understand more about the concept and the success of the resale market as a whole. 

Tell us about Wrist Aficionado and its business model.

We are a resale platform for watches, jewellery, and bags. What we do differently from others is that we have started opening brick-and-mortar stores here in the United States. In the secondary market, not many companies have done this. Our business started in 2017, and then, at the end of 2019, we opened our first retail store in New York. We opened just as COVID hit. So, there was a big dip in the luxury sector, which we had to manage, but shortly after, there was a huge boom, and we took advantage of that. We reopened in 2020, and we noticed a lot of our clients were moving down to Miami, so we followed and opened a second store there. New York will always remain our flagship store, but we also opened a store in Beverley Hills last year. Two of our stores are located within hotels, and we happen to like that model. It works as it enables us to reach a wider target market. It was a good transition. We are very happy in the retail space, and we feel there is a better opportunity for growth. 

The resale market seems to be thriving can you give us some insights into that and why you think it is such a flourishing industry?

The retail market flourishes because of the shortage of products in the authorized dealer market. Brands are doing their best to control inventory and buyers, and in doing so, they want to control supply and demand. By controlling supply and demand, they are allocating very limited numbers of products to clients and handpicking them. So, in essence, the brands are driving up the desirability of these watches, and in doing so, they are driving up the price. 

Everything feels like a limited-edition collaboration, and independent brands follow suit. Everything used to be much more readily accessible. You used to be able to go into a multi-brand watch store and pick up an Audemars Piguet, a Rolex or a Patek Philippe. But now, these brands are going boutique only, which means they have much more control over whos getting the watches. In doing this, they also control the pricing, so there are no discounts anymore. So as a result of all this, it drives up the prices of watches in the secondary market because if somebody is paying the full retail price, inevitably, the secondary market has to be higher because nobody will sell for a loss. The fact that the brands are going boutique only and they are controlling who they are selling to, and the production curve is essentially whats bringing up the pricing on the secondary market. 

Second-hand is like everything else. If you are willing to pay for something, you can get it. Everything has a price. Getting it at retail value seems to be more difficult because there is no premium on it, but they are much more selective with whom they give it to. So, our business really caters to those who want immediate gratification. Those who dont want to be on a waiting list for a year and a half or two years to get a watch. They can afford it today, and they want it today. We offer a kind of white-glove service that caters to the affluent who want what they want when they want it. And we can deliver that to them in a timely manner. 

Within our business, around 70 per cent of what we sell is what we have in stock, and 30 per cent is what we source for our clients. We have enough of everything so the client can try it on to get an idea. Then, they can request specific sizes, colours, dials, etc., and we will source that for them. We work closely with over 500 dealers, and it is easy to find almost any watch. 

How do you think your customers feel about virtual vs. brick-and-mortar stores?

Having the stores gives clients the ability to try, feel, and touch what they are buying and when they are spending a lot of money on something, I think this is key. We have tried to spread our stores out across the United States so clients within the country can usually get to at least one of our stores easily to try the watch on. We also found that having the stores gives us credibility in a market that can sometimes be a bit grey. We offer authenticity, trust, and validity so our clients can make their purchases in a transparent environment. 

How do you ensure the authenticity and quality of the watches you sell?

We have watchmakers who check everything as soon as we receive it. We buy our watches with original papers and warranty. We do background checks on the watches. Only then, after they have been fully inspected, do we go ahead and sell them. 

Right now, what are some of the most in-demand timepieces?

Patek Philippe has always been a standout brand, and I think it always will be. Richard Mille is doing very well, and its very popular in Dubai. They only make four or five thousand watches a year, and considering that limited quantity, they have a big audience, so its very easy for them to sell out of their merchandise very quickly, even though their prices start at $200,000. 

Audemars Piguet is still doing well, although I think they have gotten a bit too cliché with their collaborations and maybe oversupplied a bit too much, as they have increased their quantities quite a lot. We have seen a bit of a pullback on their watches, so I think unless we see them go back to the traditional watchmaker route, where its the watch thats the hero rather than the collaborator, then I think they may struggle a little. 

Then you have brands like F.P. Journe, which is doing very well, and Jacob & Co., which is doing well. Sometimes, marketing wins the game, and Jacob is doing a great job with that. 

The Middle East is a huge market for watches. Can we expect to see more of you here? 

We have been to Dubai a couple of times to look at spaces, so its definitely something we have considered. Its a very big market because Dubai pulls from The Middle East, Russia, and Europe – it pulls from everywhere, and a lot of wealthy individuals have moved there. So I think for us, it will be a no-brainer in the future, its just a matter of finding the right overseas partner to work with, and its definitely something were considering. 

What kind of guarantee or customer warranty do you offer your clients?

We follow up with our clients and give them an extended one-year warranty on top of their manufacturer’s warranty. However, we mostly sell modern pieces that still have a valid warranty with their manufacturers. If it doesnt, we will give you a warranty of our own, and our watchmakers will service anything where needed. 

Tell us more about the bag category.

In 2021, we opened our first handbag store, a spin-off of the watch store. We also opened a Hermès-only store in Miami. We feel that bags and watches go hand in hand, and I think it will be our strategy moving forward to open two stores next to each other. 

I think bags would probably do just as well in Dubai as watches. We focus only on Hermès bags – 95 per cent are Birkin and Kelly bags – we try to ensure all of our bags are new or in like-new condition. Its a huge market, and its because Hermès control the supply and demand of their products. They limit clients to two leather bags a year, and quite honestly, a lot of ladies want more than two bags. Often, clients arent given the option of which bag they buy; they have to have what they are given, and so a lot of people are turning to the secondary market. 

Whats the biggest challenge you face?

We want to go faster than I think our backend allows us to. We have realized that you need a lot of infrastructure for rapid growth. Ideally, we want to open one or two stores a year throughout the United States, but we realize that the more stores you open, the more time it takes, and the more inventory you need to have in those stores. This is very cash flow sensitive, which of course, is a challenge in itself. 

What else is in the pipeline for this year?

We would like to open at least one more store this year in the United States. We have been approached by people in Canada, Dubai, Saudi, and Qatar to open up stores, but I think we would like to have a few more on the ground in the US before going overseas.