Chrono24’s Stracke said the deal with the football legend isn’t an endorsement or marketing agreement. Image Credit: AFP

Berlin: Cristiano Ronaldo is buying a stake in online watch trading platform Chrono24 GmbH, giving the football star financial exposure to the pre-owned market for luxury timepieces.

Ronaldo joins existing Chrono24 shareholders including private equity firms and the family investment vehicle of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault. The company didn’t disclose the size of the Portuguese national’s stake in the closely held Karlsruhe, Germany-based company, which held a financing round in 2021 valuing it at more than $1 billion.

“It was important for us that it is a significant amount,” Co-CEO Tim Stracke said in an interview.

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The market for second-hand watches is expected to expand 75 per cent by the end of the decade, reaching 35 billion Swiss francs ($39.6 billion), according to consulting firm Deloitte. Revenue of pre-owned timepieces could overtake sales of new watches by 2033, according to LuxeConsult, a Swiss based analysis and consulting firm.

Well known for a diverse personal luxury watch collection valued in the millions, Ronaldo has been spotted wearing brands ranging from Rolex to more blingy timepieces from Jacob & Co., Girard-Perregaux and Franck Muller.

Chrono24’s Stracke said the deal with the football legend isn’t an endorsement or marketing agreement.

“He gave money to us, not us giving money to him,” Stracke said.

Chrono24 is the largest dedicated online marketplace for luxury watches with as many as half a million timepieces listed by dealers and private sellers on the platform at any given time. The company, which Stracke said has double-digit operating margins, earns fees on each transaction.

After an unprecedented surge in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, prices for the most in-demand luxury watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet have fallen sharply and are close to two-year lows, according to data from Subdial, another online trading platform in the UK.

Chrono24 cut about 13 per cent of its workforce in January and restructured some of its operations amid the downturn.

Stracke said prices for many Rolex models are stabilizing while the most popular Patek and Audemars Piguet watches including the Nautilus and Royal Oak are still falling, albeit at a much slower pace than last year.

The surge of supply that drove prices lower last year is starting to abate, he said. The number of Patek Nautilus offered for sale on the platform has dropped 20 per cent since January as demand for the Gerald Genta-designed timepiece has stayed constant.