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This 26-year-old from Hong Kong is remodeling a ‘dinosaur trade’ — one luxurious watch at a time

As a younger, avid collector of luxurious watches, Austen Chu stated he was scammed “many instances” when he purchased timepieces from the secondary watch market. 

“As soon as, I purchased a watch which had a dented dial and the vendor advised me that the dial obtained dented throughout transport,” Chu recalled. And he believed it. 

However now, the 26-year-old says he is aware of higher. 

“I do know that is undoubtedly bullsh*t … it was dented beforehand,” he advised CNBC Make It.

“If I wasn’t so loopy about watches, I in all probability would have left the house after getting scammed the primary time.” 

Not solely did his obsession with watches assist him overcome these unhealthy purchases, the experiences additionally propelled him to start out his personal consignment-based platform for luxurious watches, Wristcheck. 

The web site boasts a listing of timepieces value $80 million, all of which have been authenticated by in-house watchmakers, stated Chu.

Began in 2020, the startup lately bagged $Eight million in a funding spherical led by Gobi Companions, a Chinese language enterprise capital agency that manages Alibaba’s Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and the AEF Larger Bay Space fund.

Chu shared with CNBC Make It about how he turned a passion right into a money-making enterprise. 

Rejecting ‘purchase low, promote excessive’

In relation to beginning a profitable enterprise, Chu’s philosophy is straightforward: Begin a enterprise to unravel an issue, he stated. 

The hole that Wristcheck fills has at all times been “very clear,” Chu stated.

“The enterprise mannequin of the normal secondhand watch market could be very … usually it is ‘purchase low, promote excessive,'” Chu defined, including that sellers had been often getting the brief finish of the stick. 

“How is that proper? You are hoping to get good recommendation from somebody who’s knowledgeable, but when you realize nothing, they find yourself low balling you much more.”

The luxurious watch market is what calls a “dinosaur trade” that may be “intimidating” for the youthful era to get into, Chu stated.

In 2021, Wristcheck opened its first flagship retailer in Hong Kong — the place customers can have entry to a curated vary of pre-owned watches.


By beginning Wristcheck, Chu hoped to supply extra transparency and accessibility to his friends. 

“It is one thing that I want I had. We try to give you a tech resolution … that permits the subsequent era to develop into extra within the [watch] house in a protected means,” he added. 

For one, transaction charges are decrease. Public sale homes sometimes cost 26% from a purchaser as much as 12% from the vendor, he stated. 

In distinction, Wristcheck makes a hard and fast fee of 8% from the vendor and 4% from the client — however nonetheless permits customers to bid for watches they want to personal.

A brand new era of watch-lovers 

“You understand if you love one thing a lot, you are additionally enthusiastic about it subconsciously if you’re asleep?” 

That is how Chu describes his infatuation for watches, which began when he was a toddler — and solely obtained deeper in his teenagers. 

“I used to be 15, I fell into the rabbit gap of researching, spending each waking second mainly studying on-line and studying about watches,” he shared. 

“Clearly there isn’t any programs in college or in highschool that teaches you something about these items, so it needed to be self-taught.” 

Chu disagrees with the favored perception that accumulating wonderful watches is a passion for older of us. Actually, he insists the youthful era has extra “wrist consciousness” now — due to the introduction of Apple Watch. 

In our day and age, all the pieces is type of short-term. However with a watch it is one thing that may type of final perpetually, it is one thing you may truly cross on to your youngsters.

Austin Chu

Co-founder and CEO, Wristcheck

“That was an enormous turning level … It abruptly went from the lecture corridor having possibly 10% of the category carrying one thing on their wrist to love over 50% unexpectedly,” he stated. 

“That was a second that advised me: ‘OK, watches are going to be cool for my era.'” 

Chu’s hunch was proper. In spite of everything, Gen Z is projected to make up a 3rd of the posh market by 2030, resulting from a surge in wealth creation and the affect of social media.

Wristcheck is attracting a tech-savvy, youthful crowd, stated Chu, and 43% of its paying prospects are below the age of 30.

“In our day and age, all the pieces is type of short-term. However with a watch it is one thing that may type of final perpetually. It is one thing you may truly cross on to your youngsters,” Chu added. 

“I feel that is one thing that additionally resonates with our era.” 

Let ardour drive you

Chu co-founded Wristcheck throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which was a leap of religion that seems to have paid off up to now. 

The startup stated it is skilled “75% year-on-year progress” in its whole worth of consigned watches, and claims to have been worthwhile in its first 12 months. Chu didn’t share the figures when pressed.

Austen Chu (left) along with his co-founder Sean Wong.


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