Dusseldorf, Frankfurt Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo joins Chrono24, a leading online marketplace for luxury watches. He joins a number of prominent investors including Aglaé Ventures, the family investment company of LVMH owner Bernard Arnaults. With a round of financing of 100 million euros in 2021, they had given the Karlsruhe start-up a valuation of more than one billion US dollars – unicorn status.
Ronaldo, who according to Forbes was the best-paid athlete last year with earnings of 136 million US dollars, is a passionate collector of luxury watches. He is said to own more than 100 fine chronometers, many of which are custom-made.
The amount invested by the football professional is not disclosed, according to company circles it should be less than one million euros. “It’s a significant sum,” says Tim Stracke, founder and co-CEO of Chrono24, and reveals: “Ronaldo would have liked to have invested more.” However, the company is so well funded that it was not necessary. Because the entry of the football star has completely different advantages for the company.
Ronaldo’s entry is a “mark of confidence” for Chrono24
Every second owner of a luxury watch from brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne or Audemars Piguet worldwide uses the Chrono24 platform, and Ronaldo also describes himself as a “regular user”. But many of these collectors only gather information there and buy or sell their watches elsewhere.
Ronaldo’s entry is “a vote of confidence,” emphasizes CEO Stracke. The company hopes that this will lead to more users taking the platform seriously as a trading venue. Only then will Chrono24 collect commissions.
The trading volume on the platform, which was founded 20 years ago, is now more than one billion euros per year. More than 3,000 dealers and around 30,000 private individuals are active as sellers there. Chrono24 collects a 6.5 percent commission for each private sale; the commission is agreed individually with the dealers.
According to the company, it has been profitable for years. The margin on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) is in the double digits, says Stracke. Insiders speak of an Ebitda margin of between 15 and 25 percent. Therefore, a significant part of the 115 million euros that investors have poured into the company so far has not yet been spent.
>> Read also: Chrono24 plans IPO
According to experts, the market for pre-owned luxury watches, which sold more than 20 billion US dollars last year, still has a lot of potential. In a study, Deloitte sees the volume in 2030 at almost 40 billion US dollars.
Luxeconsult even writes that sales could grow to 85 billion US dollars by 2033. It could then for the first time be higher than sales of new watches. Since the classic watch trade still tends to shy away from e-commerce, online platforms such as Chrono24, Chronext or Watchfinder want to secure a good share of it.
Prices for luxury watches fluctuate like Bitcoin
The amplitude in market estimates also has to do with the high volatility of pre-owned luxury watch prices. Chrono24 boss Stracke calls it a “bitcoin-esque price development”: The value of particularly coveted collector’s items rose to six times the new price last year. The used Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, for example, was traded for almost 200,000 euros on Chrono24 with a retail price of 33,000 euros.
Fine watches are increasingly being seen as an investment, and demand has risen accordingly. However, the large manufacturers Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet did not expand their production, so that many models in the shops were out of stock. The market has since relaxed again.
>> Read also: Watches worth millions stolen – online retailer Watchmaster files for bankruptcy
This has a direct impact on Chrono24’s sales, since the commissions are based on the prices. In recent years, sales have increased by up to 50 percent. In the first few months of this year, on the other hand, sales were only very subdued.
Of course, Chrono24 is also speculating on the popularity of Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to future growth. Ronaldo is not a brand ambassador for the company, as Stracke emphasizes. But with his “passion for luxury watches” he is a “perfect partner for further global expansion”, according to the Chrono24 boss. When Stracke met him in Lisbon to talk about the investment, he was wearing, for example, a Franck Muller model made of gold and set with diamonds, which must have cost a six-figure sum.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt that Ronaldo has almost 600 million followers on Instagram – more than anyone else in the world. If he happens to post there that he has bought his next luxury watch on Chrono24, that could certainly give sales a new boost.
More: These are the most successful influencers in the world