This startup has raised $8 million to be the Netflix of luxury watches


We share cars through Uber and Lyft, and homes through Airbnb. Why not do the same with luxury watches?

Two-year-old startup Eleven James has made that idea a reality. Founded by ex-NetJets exec Randy Brandoff, the company basically operates like Netflix used to, back when its primary business was sending you DVDs via snail mail.

After filling out your profile, you select a membership plan, and then hop on the phone with an Eleven James “concierge” for a welcome call. After that, your first rental watch will be mailed to you in two days. When your time with that watch is up (usually 3 to 6 months, depending on the plan), you send it back and receive your next one.

There are a few different membership tiers, starting at $150 and going all the way up to $800 a month. The more you pay for an Eleven James membership, the more expensive the watches you can access. The name itself is a reference to the man whom Brandoff calls the prototypical Eleven James member: James Bond, the spy who’s always equipped with gadgets.


Brandoff got the idea for Eleven James while working for NetJets. As the CMO of the Berkshire Hathaway-backed private jet chartering and partial ownership service, Brandoff was often surrounded by a wealthy clientele.

What did this well-heeled group of people have in common? They all loved watches, just like Brandoff himself did.

“My taste for variety far exceeded the rational budget I could allot to [watch collecting]. You no longer have to buy all these other asset classes to enjoy them, but you have to buy watches,” Brandoff said, in reference to luxury experiences like flying private. “I would be a consumer of an alternative model, and I’m not such a unique luxury consumer.”

Once Brandoff’s family gave him the green light, he left NetJets and Eleven James was born.


It’s important to note that Eleven James only deals with high-value, well-designed, connoisseur-level watches with old-fashioned mechanical internals. They’re for people who appreciate what goes into making a watch.

Eleven James has a watch collection in “the eight figures,” according to Brandoff. This includes all of the most popular and most respected luxury brands, like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Tag Heuer, Tudor, Breitling, and more, including vintage models.

Brandoff said that every watch will eventually exit the collection and end up on a member’s wrist permanently through full ownership. By handing watches back in on time and in good order, members accrue points that can be used as currency toward buying a watch from Eleven James.


To service these watches, the company has partnered with a trusted New York City-based watch repair service that has been scaling as Eleven James grows.

“We didn’t set out to be the country’s biggest watch repair service,” Brandoff said.

To service these watches, the company has partnered with a trusted New York City-based watch repair service that has been scaling as Eleven James grows.

“We didn’t set out to be the country’s biggest watch repair service,” Brandoff said.


Brandoff sees two major groups in his membership.

– Around 30% of Eleven James members are millennials who are new to luxury watches. They grew up telling time by their phones and are the “access and experience over ownership generation,” Brandoff said. Eleven James’ services can offer this type of consumer “training wheels” before dropping $5,000 to $10,000 on an object they don’t have much experience with.

– The other 70% of members already own one or more luxury watches and use Eleven James as a “try before you buy” service in a market that doesn’t really allow it. “Anyone who’s ever bought two or more watches realizes that what you think in the jewelry store and what you think a month later is often a big divide,” Brandoff said.


A third but quickly-growing segment of Eleven James’ memberships is corporate gifts. Giving an Eleven James membership instead of a physical watch can be easier for the employer, as it’s less of a one-and-done gift and could be renewed the following year.

The luxury watch market is estimated to be a $40 billion business, but Brandoff says his rental service is helping more than hurting these luxury brands, which have not attempted to counter Eleven James in any way so far. He hopes to one day offer brands data on the renting trends of his company’s members, like: “If someone enjoys Rolex, they might also enjoy X brand.”


Eleven James has multiple safeguards in place to protect its pricey merchandise.

– The application process requires a background check. Brandoff says around 10% of applicants fail this initial check, and are denied access to the service.

– Members are incentivized through the points system to be on time and to return the watches in good condition.

– Members are required to purchase a full-coverage insurance plan through Eleven James, in addition to their membership. It costs around 5-10% of the price of membership.


Brandoff has a lot of faith in his members, though, and says that “most people are good people.” He also notes that renting a watch is no different from renting a car or a home, and it shouldn’t be treated any differently. The company also offers an opportunity to submit your own watch to be rented through Eleven James, which will then be added to the collection. While Eleven James has it, all or some of the cost of your own membership will be offset.

Brandoff promises it will be returned in “as good or better” condition to the owner.

There’s only been one recorded instance of a fake watch being returned to Eleven James, and it wasn’t an instance of attempted trickery — the member was simply away on business, and his wife accidentally sent back a different watch.

Eleven James currently only ships within the US, as long international shipping and customs clearance times would tie up watches in transit instead of on wrists. Brandoff said the company is, however, looking to open distribution centers within the countries it eventually expands to, when the time comes to do so.


Brandoff says that one of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur is “balancing your desire to be as big as you can, as global as you can, as fast as you can, with realizing our brand promise and the service we promise our members is of a very high luxury quality.”