E-tailer Watchbox, a specialist in pre-owned timepieces, is joining with three brick-and-mortar chains—Govberg Jewelers, Hyde Park Jewelers, and Radcliffe Jewelers—to form a new brand: the 1916 Company.
“Watchbox, Govberg, and Hyde Park over the next six months will become the 1916 Company,” says Danny Govberg, chairman of Govberg Jewelers and its spin-off, Watchbox, who will become executive chairman of the new company. “And Radcliffe will follow after that. It will be a six-month progression to go to one unified name, under one unified website.”
The new brand came together partly in response to the growing prominence of watch chains.
“Companies like Watches of Switzerland and Bucherer have absolutely made an impact on the landscape of watch retail,” says John Shmerler, president and CEO of Radcliffe, who will serve as U.S. CEO of the 1916 Company. “Our vision is: When you have a company that is made up of family-owned businesses that are involved in the community, that know people, that grew up on the counter serving customers, [they] will bring a different dimension on how to run a larger-scale organization.
“Obviously the prospect of being bigger and having some scale and being more important to the brands makes this a compelling thing to be a part of. There’s a point in time when being a little bit bigger and a little big stronger makes a lot more sense.”
Govberg says the 1916 Company represents “a coming together of the largest high-end pre-owned [watch] dealers in the world, which will now be of the largest primary retailers of new product in the United States.” The name was chosen because Danny’s grandfather founded Govberg Jewelers in 1916. “It would show people that this is a 107-year-old company,” he says, “though we’re acting as a startup.”
The new venture will consist of eight multibrand stores—two from Govberg (both in Pennsylvania), three from Radcliffe (all in Maryland), and three from Hyde Park (in Denver; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Newport Beach, Calif.). It will also have five monobrand boutiques, which all came from Hyde Park (Breitling, Hublot, and IWC Schaffhausen stores in Scottsdale, and Breitling and Omega stores in Denver)—and will incorporate Watchbox’s 11 retail lounges worldwide.
It’s possible the 1916 Company will add stores, Shmerler says. “We’d like to grow,” he says. “We’ll work to find great locations in great markets.”
Justin Reis, a cofounder of Watchbox, will serve as 1916’s global CEO. Damon Gross, who’s been CEO of Hyde Park since 2019, will be its U.S. president. (Hyde Park’s former owner Michael Pollak has sold his interest in that business.)
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