Last Saturday, Chrono24 held the very first watch collectors’ get-together at our headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany. Since 2003, Chrono24 has grown into the world’s largest online watch market.
However, to show that we actually love watches ourselves, we decided to host a collectors’ event where people could meet like-minded watch enthusiasts and see that there’s more to Chrono24 than just a website.
We arranged a program from noon to 6pm for approximately 30 guests, including Eric Wind (Wind Vintage), Chris Mann (Time4apint), Elizabeth Doerr (Quill and Pad), the Fratello Watches team, and a lot of watch collectors and enthusiasts from different countries (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, etc.). In this report, you will find a lot of pictures that give an impression of our Chrono24 GTG.
The Chrono24 GTG event was held at the company’s restaurant (Time-Out), where the chefs prepared canapes. Once the guests had arrived, were made comfortable with a drink, and were already exchanging watches and anecdotes with each other, everyone was asked to go to the 2nd level of the Chrono24 restaurant, where the official welcome took place.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One of the Chrono24 CEOs, Tim Stracke, welcomed everyone at the event and gave a brief introduction of himself and of the company. Today, Chrono24 has over 100 employees in four different locations (Karlsruhe, Berlin, New York, and Hong Kong). It is by no means a start-up anymore, nor is it all that small. Tim also introduced the speakers for that day, who would be giving presentations on a number of topics to the guests: Eric Wind, Oliver Siegle, and myself.
The Time-Out room (1 floor down) was prepared for the guests to have a seat and enjoy the talks and presentations.
If you’re a watch enthusiast and collector, you might recognize his name as a former Hodinkee writer and vintage watch specialist at Christie’s. Eric Wind is a seasoned watch collector who started his own business last year, Wind Vintage. His knowledge of vintage watches is mind-blowing. As soon as he started talking and sharing his thoughts and experiences , the room went completely silent. The dos and don’ts, as well as very special watches that have been auctioned, were discussed.
Using specific examples of auctioned watches, Eric explained what’s important to know about these pieces and the importance of the heritage and the (original) condition of a watch. The detailed check-lists regarding the dials, hands, cases, and movements of watches were particularly interesting. Eric also focused in on the different aspects that make up for the value of a (vintage) watch, including quality, complications, condition, rarity, style, history, etc.
At the end of his talk, he shared a bit of advice with the guests. One of them is that you should buy something because you love it, not because it is trendy (have a collector mentality instead of dealer one). Another one I’d like to share with you is: “Many parts of the vintage watches you see, like what you see in Playboy, is not “original”. The lively – but often secret – trade in radium and tritium dials and hands, etc. was given as an example.
An active Q&A session with the guests followed and showed a group of dedicated watch enthusiasts coming together. In the discussion it became clear that there are different views as to how “original” a vintage watch should be. Extreme Purists argue that even the crystal may not be exchanged (which is like expecting a Jaguar E-Type from 1968 to have its factory tires). Brands like Rolex, for example, have an approach that’s the exact opposite: when they service a watch, the refinish (polish, replace, etc.) everything to look as new again.
After a short coffee break, Chrono24 took the stage. For the last few months, Chrono24 has offered a new feature on their website called Watch Collection. With this feature, you can track and analyze the value of your watch collection. No more documenting your collection in spreadsheets. Now you have an overview of your watches – their value and a detailed summary of each watch’s specifications – all in one glance.
When you add your purchase price and the date, the tool will show you today’s estimated market value of your watch. The figures are based on over 300,000 watches currently offered on Chrono24 as well as historic data that goes back to 2009. Thanks to this, you will be able to see the value development of both each individual watch as well as your entire collection over time. However, tracking value is just one aspect of this tool. You are also able to upload your own images of your watch and keep notes about it, such as where you bought it, whether everything is there, or other significant anecdotes.
In the future, new functions will be added to get even more precise estimates for your watches (for example, if it still comes with its box and papers), and there will be helpful tools for when you want to sell a watch.
Oliver showed a few watches to demonstrate how the tool works and what you can learn from it. One of these examples was the Rolex Daytona Ref. 16520 with a Zenith movement. We clearly saw that, from 2009 to March 2016, its market value was between 10,000 and 11,000 euros. Then, in under two years, it rose steeply to up over 18,000 €, where it stands at the moment. What happened? Rolex introduced the new Daytona with a ceramic bezel, which sent the first version with automatic movement on a journey to almost double its value.
Together with the other Fratello Watches members, Balazs Ferenczi, Gerard Nijenbrinks, and Teun van Heerebeek, I was present at the Chrono24 GTG event in Karlsruhe. Since not everyone is familiar with the story behind Fratello Watches, I held a short talk on how it all started in 2004 and what my motivation was to share my thoughts and opinions on watches on a (then) blog.
Of course, this isn’t possible without having some background on me as a person and how my love for (mechanical) watches started at an early age. Besides mentioning some numbers and mile stones, I also elaborated on how the website made the transition from being a blog to an online watch magazine with the team of six people it has today. Also, a few brief moments were spent on the collaboration with Omega that led to the creation of the Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday limited edition – a watch that could also be found on some of the guests’ wrists at the Chrono24GTG event.
I ended my talk with what the future will hold for Fratello Watches. We will remain free of paid editorial content (we would feel bad if you were to purchase a watch based on something that wouldn’t reflect our true thoughts and feelings about it), we will do more with print (besides being online), and we will host more get-togethers.
After these three talks, collectors mingled and discussed all sorts of topics, though most were obviously watch-related. Chrono24 provided a photo booth, where a picture could be taken and automatically shared on Instagram, printed, and sent by e-mail. You will find a number of photos taken of the event by guests shared on social media, using the #Chrono24GTG hashtag. The chefs of Chrono24’s Time-Out restaurant made sure to make some delicious snacks. Also, there was a ‘pop-up’ cocktail bar where you could ask for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The watches that people brought to the event alone were enough to make it worth participating, as they brought a lot of interesting pieces. Omega and Rolex dominated, but the occasional Audemars Piguet, Eterna, Gallet, Seiko, and (Jaeger-)LeCoultre also found their way into the event. It was very interesting to see and hear what motivated people to collect a specific watch or certain models. The collection of a guest who bought his first watch in 1964 and had an original ‘Moonwatch’ reference 105.012 with its box and papers that he bought himself in 1965 was very special, indeed. Another beautiful piece was the Rolex GMT-Master Blueberry (referring to the all blue bezel) brought by another guest. You will see a wide variety of watches in the photos in this article.
Our goal of bringing watch collectors together to discuss their favorite watches succeeded. We also hope that the guests will have a better understanding of what Chrono24 does and know that the people there really care about watches.
Every guest went home with a signed and numbered piece of art created by Teun van Heerebeek (Watches & Pencils) to commemorate the very first Chrono24 GTG event.
We hope to see you at our next event!
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