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Hodinkee Hires Farfetch’s Jeffery Fowler as CEO

The executive handoff comes as the online destination for watch superfans looks to expand its e-commerce business, which has surpassed $100 million in annual sales.
Hodinkee started out as a blog for watch enthusiasts and grew to become a content-and-commerce empire.
Hodinkee started out as a blog for watch enthusiasts and grew to become a content-and-commerce empire. (Courtesy)

Key insights

  • Jeffery Fowler, a former Farfetch executive, joined Hodinkee this month.
  • The content and commerce site for watch loyalists has topped $100 million in annual sales and is eyeing tech and brick-and-mortar expansion.
  • UK-based Toby Batemen, the chief executive since 2020, is staying on as an advisor.

Hodinkee, the online hub for watch aficionados with big e-commerce ambitions, has hired Farfetch’s Jeffery Fowler as its new chief executive.

The site in December 2020 raised $40 million in a funding round led by TCG that valued the business at $100 million, with an eye toward expanding its fast-growing business selling new and vintage watches. At the time, Toby Bateman, former managing director of Mr Porter, was brought in as the company’s first CEO (the site at that point had been run by founder Benjamin Clymer, who started Hodinkee as a blog in 2008).

Bateman, who is based in the UK, steered the company through its first acquisition — of the pre-owned watch marketplace Crown & Caliber in 2021. But as the pandemic receded, the company needed a CEO closer to home, Clymer told BoF. Bateman will continue with the business in an advisory role.

“As vaccinations rolled out, and as people started to get back together, we realised how important it would be to have somebody in the US,” he said.

Fowler, who took the helm on March 7 and is based in New York, spent six years at Farfetch, most recently as president for the online luxury giant’s Americas business. That followed leadership stints at LVMH, Richemont and Tesla.

He’ll be tasked with driving more “sustainable growth” and expanding commerce into new channels, he said, including brick-and-mortar. Hodinkee also hired Andy Shin, former chief technology officer of sneaker marketplace GOAT, to serve as its chief product and technology officer in October.

“Companies like Hodinkee that are growing by a lot, are well-funded and have a strong backing from investors and the industry can sometimes get a bit out over their skis,” said Fowler. “Ultimately, you have to be able to make sure that business is self-sustaining and that’s something I’ll bring — prioritisation.”

Jeffery Fowler succeeds Toby Bateman as the chief executive of Hodinkee, the content-and-commerce online destination for "watch nerds."

Hodinkee has made the transition from writing about watches to selling them, a balance of content and commerce aspired to by media brands but rarely pulled off successfully. The company now has roughly 160 employees with annual revenues of $100 million, according to Clymer.

It has a biannual print magazine and a podcast aimed at watch superfans, as well as a growing e-commerce arm, launched in 2012, that helped pioneer online shopping for luxury watches like Audemars Piguet, Patek Phillipe and Rolex. It has collaborated on products with Swatch and Omega, and hosts events and pop-up shops. Its integration of Crown & Caliber last year now gives the company a stronger foothold in the watch resale market.

“We’re at a scale of business where we’re doing over $100 million a year in sales and we’re probably going to grow to 200 employees this year,” Clymer said. “And when you hit that level, there’s just a structure that is required … and that’s effectively what Jeffery will end up being for us.”

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