The horological landscape is witnessing the rise of a new colossus, THE 1916 Company, a conglomerate poised to redefine luxury watch retailing. Stitching together a century-old legacy with the modernity of digital commerce, this newly formed entity is both a nod to tradition and a stride into the future of watch collecting. The 1916 Company has emerged as the new e-commerce division following Watchbox’s recent announcement of its acquisition of prominent entities Govberg Jewelers, Hyde Park Jewelers, and Radcliffe Jewelers. This expansion positions Watchbox as one of the largest watch dealers globally, marking a significant milestone in the company’s growth and reach in the luxury timepiece sector
The genesis of THE 1916 Company is as much about heritage as it is about innovation. Named in tribute to the founding year of Govberg Jewelers by Albert Govberg in Philadelphia, the company represents a synergy of four formidable names in the watch industry: WatchBox, Govberg Jewelers, Hyde Park Jewelers, and Radcliffe Jewelers. Spearheaded by watch industry stalwart Danny Govberg, alongside his co-founders Justin Reis and Tay Liam Wee of WatchBox fame, THE 1916 Company stands on the pillars of their shared vision—bridging the gap between the primary and secondary watch markets.
THE 1916 Company is not just another retailer entering the fray. It is an empire in the making, a response to the calling of watch aficionados for a platform that offers a 360-degree collecting experience enveloped in education, media, and community engagement. Reis, who now leads as the global CEO, envisions THE 1916 Company as a destination where enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the culture of horology—be it through interaction at one of the global lounges akin to the intimacy of mini Soho Houses or through digital storytelling.
This venture is ambitious, extending its reach across twenty locations worldwide, including eight multi-brand salons and five mono-brand boutiques scattered across the American landscape—from the bustling streets of Philadelphia to the serene beaches of Newport Beach, CA. Each location promises a blend of the new, the pre-owned, and the rarest of timepieces, all underpinned by the unwavering ethos of THE 1916 Company.
As part of its mission to offer unparalleled service, THE 1916 Company announces its participation in the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned program. It further reinforces its commitment to excellence by establishing its own Rolex service centers, aimed at providing meticulous care for every timepiece entrusted to them. This move is emblematic of their broader strategy to become the eminent global leader of the CPO program, ensuring every pre-owned watch meets the highest standards of quality and authenticity.
Customers loyal to the brands now unified under THE 1916 Company will witness a gradual rebranding process, with a seamless transition intended to honor the storied pasts of each entity while steering them towards a collective future. The full integration is anticipated to culminate in the first quarter of the following year, promising a consolidated user experience without losing the individual touch each brand has cultivated over the years.
The extensive $200+ million inventory of collectible pre-owned timepieces that once dazzled on WatchBox’s platform will now be accessible across all physical and digital channels of THE 1916 Company. This vast collection serves not only as a testament to the company’s scale but also to its dedication to the craft of watchmaking and the nuanced art of watch collecting.
In a market that clamors for authenticity and exclusivity, THE 1916 Company is planting its flagpole to become a beacon for collectors and enthusiasts alike. It seeks not only to build a network of transactions but to foster a global community, a Collector’s Circle, where passion for watches and the experiences that come with them are shared and celebrated.
WatchBox’s acquisition trail showcases a clear strategic pattern aimed at consolidating their presence in the pre-owned luxury watch market, which began well before its latest announcement. The company’s purchase of Chronofy in 2018 set a precedent, providing a cornerstone for WatchBox’s ambition to streamline the experience for independent retailers dealing in pre-owned timepieces. This acquisition fortified WatchBox’s repertoire with robust valuation and authentication services, heralding a new era for both consumers and retailers in a complex market. Continuing on this trajectory, WatchBox’s majority stake acquisition in De Bethune in 2021 was another pivotal move, marrying the high-end craftsmanship of independent watchmaking with the dynamism of the pre-owned market. These calculated steps, leading up to their recent announcements, have established WatchBox not only as a market participant but as a visionary leader shaping the landscape of luxury watch resales. Each purchase, including the formation of the company by visionaries like Danny Govberg, Justin Reis, and Tay Liam Wee, has been a building block towards creating a global network that champions the worth and heritage of pre-owned luxury watches.
With such a fusion of legacy, luxury, and digital prowess, THE 1916 Company is more than a new player—it is a new giant, and its time has just begun.