When Danny Govberg, owner and CEO of Govberg Jewelers in Philadelphia and Cleveland, first announced the launch of pre-owned watch specialist Watchbox, he told WatchPro that the new venture would soon overtake his more traditional jeweler business in size and significance.
Moreover, he added, major Swiss watch groups working with Govberg Jewelers would not be entirely supportive of his pivot into pre-owned, but that his belief in the secondary market was so strong that he was prepared to take the risk.
Those views appear prescient today with news emerging that Richemont will be withdrawing all of its watch brands from Govberg Jewelers next year, according to a source speaking anonymously to WatchPro.
Govberg Jewelers is currently an authorized dealer for 40 luxury watch brands including Richemont-owned Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin.
Groups like Richemont are, of course, free to work with whichever retail partners they choose, but the move to strip Govberg of its agencies is likely to be seen as a backlash against his evangelism for the pre-owned watch market and the fact that Watchbox, which Mr Govberg co-founded, is a direct competitor to Watchfinder, which Richemont bought in the summer of 2018.
While Richemont is withdrawing support for Mr Govberg, Rolex has taken a more pragmatic view of the rise of Watchbox. The company’s chief executive, Jean-Frédéric Dufour, even paid a visit to the first standalone Watchbox boutique while he was in Dubai last week.