How Hodinkee's Big Bet on a Watch Business Backfired

The company cut costs with multiple layoffs, gutting its Crown & Caliber acquisition

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When watch enthusiast website Hodinkee acquired used-watch marketplace Crown & Caliber in February 2021 after raising $40 million, the merger made perfect sense on paper. 

Hodinkee had a loyal audience, while Crown & Caliber knew how to operate in the booming business of second-hand watches, which topped $22 billion in sales that year, according to Boston Consulting Group.

But three years later, a downturn in the watch market, an erosion of reader trust and multiple rounds of layoffs have led the once-promising merger to founder, according to interviews with nine current and former staff, as well as industry experts. 

A Hodinkee representative disputed that its readers’ trust has eroded, pointing to Net Promoter Scores of 58 and 71 for Hodinkee and Crown & Caliber, respectively.



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