If the phrase early adopter applies to anyone, it’s Bezel CEO and cofounder Quaid Walker. As a high schooler in Los Angeles, he waited in line for the first iPhone. He went on to code and create apps while still in college and later helped launch Google TV.
When it comes to watches, you could also consider Walker an early adopter. He recalls wearing a watch even as a child, fascinated with the fake Rolex his father had brought home from a Shanghai business trip. The fakes fell away and Walker kept wearing watches, moving up in brand as his career flourished.
“I bought a watch with my first real bonus at Google,” Walker says. “It maybe wasn’t the best financial decision, but I wanted to commemorate the occasion.”
Watches grew from a hobby to a near obsession, Walker says. As someone who enjoys making things, he admired a watch’s external beauty and the impressive mechanicals on the inside.
“If you take care of it, a watch can last forever. There’s such a level of craftsmanship,” he says. “It represented the opposite of my job with screens and technology. I fell in love with how rational it was and the investment side of it. If you buy the right pieces at the right price, they go up in value. You get that joy and expression of who you are, as well.”
Six years after joining Google TV and driving the product to more than 100 million active users, Walker made the leap to cofounding Bezel in 2022. Bezel is described as a technology-first online watch marketplace with a mission to provide a trusted buying experience and best-in-class customer service.
In addition to Walker, Bezel’s executive team includes chief financial officer and chief operating officer Chase Pion and chief technology officer Darryl Johnson. The company is backed by a variety of investors, including singer John Legend, former head of Christie’s watches John Reardon, and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, says Walker.
As CEO, Walker says he focuses on the company’s long-term vision, its product, and its brand. What he enjoys most about his role is working with experts in watches and in technology, and learning from both.
The demand for watches has grown exponentially over the past two decades, Walker says, especially with celebrities, CEOs, and the general public showing an interest in watch collecting and enjoyment. Walker says his first forays into collecting watches were challenging, given that the early online marketplace felt too archaic, complicated, and intimidating.
“As a budding new collector, learning everything from scratch was a scary process. This was one of the largest purchases of my life, and it wasn’t a comfortable space for a newcomer,” Walker says. “I looked at a company like StockX, which sells collectible sneakers with an authenticated marketplace model, and that felt like a trusted source. So I thought, why don’t we build something like that for watches?”
Bezel can be the solution to those issues, Walker says. Its strict authentication process offers transparency and trust, he says.
“We like to say we’re wildly transparent,” Walker says, from the online workflow that a customer can track to interactions on the app to customer service that lets the buyer and seller ask questions throughout the process.
Here’s how it works: After a watch is purchased on the Bezel website or app, the seller ships the watch to Bezel, which examines it and verifies its authenticity. The Bezel team includes in-house authenticators and watchmakers who have worked for Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Hodinkee and bring decades of experience in the industry, Walker says.
Bezel users can browse listings for more than $150 million worth of watches, from brands including Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Cartier. Prices may range from $2,500 to millions of dollars. The site also offers educational content and stories of famous watch wearers and collectors, from Cardi B to the late Princess Diana. Users can talk to Bezel’s client specialists, who help with sourcing and personal shopping.
“We are modern and technology-forward for the longtime collector, but we never forget about first-time buyers,” Walker says. “You’re buying a really beautiful, celebratory thing. It should be an experience that you feel good about and remember.”
Top: Quaid Walker left Google to start the online watch marketplace Bezel, which he says is benefiting from Gen-Z and millennial interest in watch collecting. (Photos courtesy of Bezel)
Follow me on Instagram and TwitterFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine