It's important to note that the secondhand luxury watch market does exist, and some models do hold their value or even appreciate in price. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

At only 25 years old, Michael Morgan already owns a $10 million business – the Iconic Watch Company, which trades pre-owned luxury watches. His entrepreneurial journey began at age 13 when he sold his first vintage Rolex Submariner out of boredom. "When you're 12, 13, you usually get bored of things very quickly," Morgan tells Entrepreneur. "So within six months [of buying it], I knew that I wanted to sell [the vintage Submariner]."

Morgan's fascination with "old things" started around eight or nine, initially with Porsches. Unable to afford cars, he collected coins, stamps, and fountain pens before finally focusing on watches. His father's collection sparked his interest, and he devoured information about watches, starting with pocket watches. "And from there on, I spent most of my time reading about watches. [The book] Vintage Rolex became the focus," he recalls. Using savings and trading existing watches, he acquired his first vintage Rolex Submariner at 12. "I remember it cost me $3,500, which at the time seemed like a tremendous sum of money," Morgan says. Selling it for $5,200 two days later, he realised his hobby could become a serious business.

The Business of Buying and Selling Luxury Watches

Despite early success, Morgan faced challenges turning his side hustle into a full-time venture. Initially, he saw it as a way to fund his watch obsession. However, as sales grew, it dominated his time, affecting his schoolwork. By junior year, he decided to commit to his entrepreneurial passion fully.

Morgan disliked phone calls, fearing they'd reveal his age. "I had this one client who was interested in buying two watches, so I knew I had to do a phone call," Morgan recalls. "I'm on the phone with him. I came off okay, and at the end, he asked me how old I was. I was like, Oh god. I told him [I was 14]. First, he thought it was a joke. [But when I said] 'I'm actually 14 years old,' he was blown away. And he actually ended up becoming a [regular customer]."

While age wasn't the biggest challenge, sourcing vintage watches, primarily Rolexes, was difficult. "The problem is we're dealing with old watches, and there aren't that many great pieces out there, and as time has passed, there are more and more people searching," Morgan explained. The recent statement by Rolex CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour also posed a problem, arguing that luxury watches are not investments and shouldn't be viewed that way.

Overcoming Challenges and Growing the Business

"When I first started, there were probably five to 10 major people in the US actively buying vintage. [Now], there's probably 30 active people constantly searching. So competition has gotten extremely fierce." Morgan has travelled globally to secure coveted timepieces, including rare vintage Rolexes. "A highlight would be finding the lowest serial number and possibly first known Rolex GMT-Master from 1955 found via an Instagram DM with history tracing to Walt Disney," he notes.

Morgan thrives on the quest. As he puts it: "finding the next great watch is what gets [him] going every single day." His dedication has been instrumental in the business's flourishing success. Since 2017, annual revenue has surpassed $10 million, with a focus on private sales. He recently secured a staggering $750,000 sale of a 1970 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref.6263 "Paul Newman" to a prominent Asian collector.

Amidst Morgan's reputation for excellence in these luxury watches comes a new hurdle: The ever-present threat of counterfeits. As private investigator Rob Holmes recently explained, the trade in fake Rolexes is sophisticated and widespread, so Morgan must constantly be on guard to ensure the authenticity of his inventory.

Education and Entrepreneurship

Although his parents encouraged him to attend college, Morgan had lost interest by the time he was 18. He applied to the University of Southern California (USC), but his first interview fell flat. However, his determined father secured a second interview, during which Morgan was asked to discuss his business venture. The tables were turned by the end of the meeting, and the interviewer tried convincing him to attend USC.

Morgan enrolled at USC, but juggling the demands of student life and running a business proved too challenging. By his junior year, he decided to commit fully to his entrepreneurial passion, leaving school to focus on growing his business.

The Future of the Iconic Watch Company

Morgan's dedication has paid off. He's sold thousands of watches to clients worldwide, building a reputation for excellence and authenticity. His success story is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and perseverance. From a 13-year-old with a vintage Rolex to a business owner with annual revenues exceeding $10 million, Morgan's journey is inspiring.