Watchmaking in the USA

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

March 2024

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

A YouTube sensation from Cleveland, Ohio, Teddy Baldassarre is not your typical influencer. In mere six years, he has transformed a one-man show into a watch enterprise boasting eight-figure revenues, complete with a flagship luxury boutique. The 30-year-old unpacks his recipe for success.


n an industry where brand names often overshadow individuals, Teddy Baldassarre emerges as an unlikely outlier. Rather than fronting a commercial label, he has become a brand unto himself. Capturing audiences with his innate charisma, his professional content attracted an astonishing 95 million views on YouTube alone last year. How a Midwestern native transformed into a personal brand in the watch trade is nothing short of remarkable.

When a fresh-faced Baldassarre uploaded a video of his modest watch collection in 2017, he had no idea of the journey he was about to go on. Fast forward to 2024, and this seasoned content creator has just cut the ribbon on his sleek and elegant watch boutique in Cleveland, Ohio. The new establishment serves as an authorised retailer for over 40 esteemed marques, including Omega, Breitling, Grand Seiko, and Glashütte Original.

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

Baldassarre has turbocharged his namesake brand from content to e-commerce, and now a retail destination. In just a few short years, he has become a trusted influencer among millennials and Gen Z, offering education and insight into the world of watches. His style of jargon-free, informative language resonates particularly with the rookies of an enthusiast hobby, who often find themselves intimidated by its snobbery.

Looking back at his initial foray into watch collecting, Baldassarre opens up about feeling like “an outcast” himself. “Where I grew up, I remember seeing no sign of Rolex or anything like that,” he recalls. “It didn’t have the same ecosystem as a lot of other markets in America or in Europe. I had no understanding of how watches were this very big thing in certain other subcultures of the United States.”

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

From influencer to industry player

Attuned to this common sentiment, the popular host strives to empower viewers with broader market context to inform their buying decisions. His value-driven approach is hugely relatable to the younger demographic, with 60% under the age of 35. Notably, his sharp wit and intelligence also appeals to the likes of high-profile collector Kevin O’Leary from the hit TV show ‘Shark Tank’, leading to regular collaborations aimed at expanding their collective reach.

Baldassarre’s star continued its ascent, accompanied by mounting demands to scale up. “It got to a point where the cost to produce just one video was thousands of dollars,” he reveals. By 2019, a formidable obstacle loomed: how to sustain content production without brand sponsorships and risking authenticity. While commonplace among watch media, he chose not to monetise through merchandise, pre-owned watch trade, or collaborative limited editions.

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

Cognisant of the components for building a respectable name in the industry, Baldassarre instead threw himself into the deep end to become an authorised online retailer. “The challenge was that most of the brands had no concept of you, or what reaching millions of people a month could mean digitally versus a traditional retail environment,” he refers to the general lack of understanding of YouTube’s potential. “So, it was a lot of no’s for basically a year straight.”

Overcoming scepticism demanded persistence and education. Eventually, the company secured 15 independent brand partners against an unprecedented backdrop. “We launched in a scary time of June 2020,” he recounts. Starting a new business amidst a pandemic could have been disastrous, yet for this young entrepreneur, it proved serendipitous.

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

Defying borders and stereotypes

His platform emerged as a haven for enthusiasts with a burgeoning interest and disposable income, achieving exponential growth year after year. Amassing a customer base of over 30,000 and surpassing a million social media subscribers, Baldassarre asserts, “We have never spent one penny on click ads, advertorial, or any sort of digital marketing campaign.”

While eschewing targeted advertising, this organic format yielded a welcoming boon: global reach. “One of the big misconceptions about our brand is that they see an English speaker and think our entire audience is from the United States,” he notes. In reality, only a third of his nine million monthly viewers hail from the US, with substantial followings in Canada, the UK, Germany, other parts of Europe, and India.

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

Baldassarre attributes a significant traffic surge to the worldwide frenzy over the MoonSwatch for bringing watches into mainstream pop culture. Timing is everything. This pivotal moment came after the company had acquired assets from a defunct multibrand watch e-commerce retailer. The strategic move equipped his platform with key technology, industry relationships, and operating expertise, propelling Teddy Baldassarre forward in the primary trade.

Not content to rest on his laurels, the astute founder saw venturing into physical retail as a logical progression, even in this increasingly digital age. Admittedly, it was a step he hadn’t anticipated, but he acknowledges, “It became abundantly clear that it would allow our brand to make a bigger impact. And I think people still perceive you in a certain way when you have a brick-and-mortar presence.”

Forging an empire

Making the leap, however, presented its own set of complexities. “It is run as a separate business unit compared to how we’re operating with content and e-commerce because it’s obviously a different game to play,” he clarifies. “What has made the business work is that we’ve only specialised in what we know. I know video; I know watches; and the other thing we know is the Cleveland market.”

More than a tribute to his home city, Cleveland was a considered choice. “It may seem random, but it is a market that is underserved,” Baldassarre explains. “With other markets like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Columbus, you have a reach of well over 10 to 20 million people within a two-hour drive. It’s also where the team is located, conveniently. With our own understanding of the region, we’ll be able to navigate in a holistic approach to make this market work.”

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

Th retail business now represents brands from all major watch groups, as well as respected independents, with prices spanning from G-Shock to $40,000. The man himself envisions the boutique as a hub for shoppers from far and wide, fostering an inviting atmosphere to talk and discover watches with a real handshake. “We hope this can be one of many,” he teases, hinting at future expansions.

Boldly staking his claim in an industry where longevity traditionally dictates reputation, Teddy Baldassarre breaks through. His rapid, organic growth is a testament to harnessing the power of personal branding. Reflecting on his trajectory, Baldassarre muses, “It is kind of ludicrous to think about it now. But we were just crazy enough to go for it, and thankfully, it worked out.”

The Breakout Retail Star: Teddy Baldassarre

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