BusinessInterviews.com: Please tell us a little about you and your Company.
Paul Altieri: Since I graduated college in 1980, I have always loved Rolex watches. In fact I bought my first Submariner 16610 in 1992 and still wear it today. I started Bob’s Watches with the vision of creating the World’s first Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange built on honesty, trust and integrity. High-end Swiss timepieces are often viewed as investments, and it is not uncommon for watches from top luxury manufacturers such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Panerai to appreciate in value over time.
As Watches have always been a serious passion of mine, I wanted to create a platform for consumers to buy, sell, and trade used Rolex watches at fair market values. The Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange is built upon the underlying concepts of the stock exchange, along with a business philosophy of honor and transparency. Our watches are 100% guaranteed authentic, and we publicly list the current buy and sell values for each Rolex model, in order to create a fair and efficient secondary marketplace. The Industry was long overdue for a better more trustworthy marketplace with the Internet playing a vital role.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Customers: I saw firsthand that customers were yearning for a better way to determine the value of their watches. Regardless of whether customers are interested in buying or selling timepieces, they share a common need for an easy and efficient way to ascertain how much watches are actually worth. Our used Rolex price guides are free and open for anyone to use – even competing dealers. In a very short period of time, www.bobswatches.com has become the go-to destination for all things Rolex. And we’re very proud of that.
I wanted to create a transparent system that could act as a secondary marketplace for luxury watches, and it was out of that initial desire that I came up with the Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange. Now, when customers are interested in a particular Rolex model, whether it is a Rolex Submariner, Daytona, GMT, President, Datejust, or any other Rolex – contemporary or vintage – they can go to our website and see current prices to buy that watch, as well as the amount they would receive if they were to sell that exact same timepiece.
BusinessInterviews.com: What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
I think the biggest issue that the Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange solves is the lack of transparency that previously existed in the secondhand Rolex market. We make a point to publically list the current buy and sell values for each Rolex model, and this transparency allows both buyers and sellers to look at our website and verify – for themselves – that they are getting the best possible deal. Our whole business is built on honesty and trust.
This transparency enables buyers to be certain that they are not paying exorbitant price markups by vendors in the secondary market. Simultaneously, it enables customers that are interested in selling their Rolex, to verify that they are getting the best possible price. Ebay and Craigslist have done a poor job at policing their own selling platforms so there is very little consumer trust in these models, especially for higher end luxury items like Rolex.
BusinessInterviews.com: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in modern business development, and the rate at which technology is evolving is also increasing. As a business owner, the biggest challenge I face has been keeping up-to-date with the latest and greatest technology and marketing platforms.
The Internet, and certainly e-commerce, has changed drastically in the past decade. I believe that anticipating future trends is crucial when building a business today, and I always make an effort to stay up to date on new developments that will become the standards and mainstays of the future.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your company?
Mobile for sure. An increasing number of people are interfacing with the Internet via mobile devices, and we want to continue to provide them with a cutting-edge web experience. One of the things on the horizon that I’m most excited about is our new, enhanced mobile website. It has been specifically optimized for mobile devices, and it will provide our customers with a much easier and faster experience.
BusinessInterviews.com: Where do you envision your company in 5 years?
Right now we are almost entirely devoted to the secondary Rolex market; however in five years, I’d love to see us expand our brand portfolio to include new watches as well. We strive to provide the best possible results for our customers, and we will continue to hold ourselves to this standard as we broaden our portfolio and increase comprehensive coverage of additional brands. It will certainly be interesting to see over the next few years how the Swiss watch manufacturers struggle to understand the Internet and how it can best play a part in their business.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
I have always admired Hans Wilsdorf, of course, Kevin Plank, and Steve Jobs. These men are some of the most influential business leaders of our generation, and I respect them all a great deal. They were able to anticipate and satisfy needs – almost before their customers could even realize that those needs were there. This level of forward thinking and ingenuity is something that I strive for in every aspect of my business.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I think we have succeeded in providing a more honest business model that is better, safer, and more efficient for consumers to buy and sell pre-owned and vintage watches. So to that extent, yes. I’m passionate about Rolex watches and, thanks to Bob’s Watches, I get the opportunity to acquire some truly rare vintage Submariners, GMT’s, Daytona’s and many others. And when I come across a special vintage piece with a compelling story, it’s even more exciting and rewarding. So yes, I consider myself very successful because I get to do what I love!
BusinessInterviews.com: How do your competitors view you?
That’s a great question. We honestly don’t pay much attention to the watch bloggers or our competitors. But I would imagine our transparent pricing model has created a huge disturbance in the secondary luxury watch market. While it made us very popular among consumers, it was not necessarily favorable in the eyes of our competitors. Our policy of transparency gives buyers and sellers identical access to pricing information, leaving neither party left to ponder the fairness of a deal.
While we see our transparent pricing as a solution to the inefficiencies caused by asymmetric information, some of our competitors believe it inhibits their ability to operate. We have always stood firmly by the side of the consumer, and it is my hope that our competitors realize that we only aim to create a fair and efficient secondary marketplace for luxury watches.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Our transparent pricing model, or watch exchange concept, had never been done before for any product in any industry. So looking back, it wasn’t immediately clear how successful we would be. It was also a huge challenge in working with the Internet and technology to make this all happen. Together, they are the backbone behind our business model.
By publicly listing the current buy and sell values for each Rolex model, we are able to eliminate the uncertainty that faces consumers who are considering a transaction. We have received a great deal of praise for this level of transparency, and it has helped make us the #1 online destination for luxury watches.
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