Japanese peer-to-peer watch rental company Toke Match shuts down, with watch owners left in the lurch Japanese peer-to-peer watch rental company Toke Match shuts down, with watch owners left in the lurch

Japanese peer-to-peer watch rental company Toke Match shuts down, with watch owners left in the lurch

Emily Holmes
  • Toke Match was a Japanese watch rental company headed by Fukuhara Takazumi a.k.a. Kominato Takazumi
  • The service abruptly ended in January and the watches were not returned to their owners
  • An arrest warrant has been issued for Takazumi, who has fled Japan for the UAE

Peer-to-peer rental companies seem like the obvious solutions to so many problems. I have a drill. I use it maybe four times a year. The rest of the time it sits in my closet next to the floating shelves I am definitely going to install in my office when I have time. (Note – I have time, they’re still not installed.) In theory, you could rent the drill from me most of the year when I am not putting up shelves. I would make some money on something I don’t use and you would save some money by not buying a drill.

This model works, more or less, in certain markets. It’s working, for now, with cars. It works for housing with Airbnb. However, the person-to-person model for renting handbags and purses has struggled. It’s done better in Asian markets, but even large, long-standing companies like Rent the Runway can’t seem to stay profitable. Breitling Select, the watch rental service from Breitling, appears to have suffered a quiet death. Yet it’s clear that there is still an appetite for renting watches. 

breitling select

One of the underlying issues of the business model is how to attract those willing to lend out their watches for hire. Sure, a Vacheron Constantin may rent out for a hefty fee, but the average owner is more likely to be part of the ‘stealth wealth’ crowd, not the passive income crew. So how do you get someone to rent out their expensive asset for an occasional return that comes with a fair amount of risk to the asset? Mostly, given the failure of this business model to catch on, it seems that they don’t. 

Toke Match appeared to solve this problem. Toke Match was part of a group of companies under the header Neo Reverse, which included services from real estate brokers to media strategy.  Launched in January 2021, the peer-to-peer watch rental service claimed to have 100 watches in circulation by September of that year.  By August of 2023, Toke Match posted that they had access to 1,500 watches. The company would have lenders “deposit” their watches and it would handle renting them out. Toke Match also paid the owners a monthly fee, even if their watches weren’t on loan. 

Description of Toke Match Japanese and English

The passive income aspect was enough to attract both private owners and industry professionals to place their collections with the company. Owners ranged from one watch dealer who placed 45 watches with the company to office workers just trying to earn a little money off the Rolex their father had left them.

For several years, the business model seemed to work. Owners were receiving regular payments. Then in January 2024, the payments abruptly stopped. A notice went up on Toke Match’s website explaining the company was being dissolved, and seeking the return of all watches from renters. The watches would be shipped back to the owners within 6 months, and if the watches did not get returned, the company would compensate the owners. 

From the Toke Match Notice to lenders

Unfortunately, contrary to the company’s commitment, the owners began to find their watches on resale websites such as chronos24 as well as Japanese buy, sell and trade groups and apps. Police departments across the country have received complaints from owners which triggered multiple investigations. But as time passed it became clear that the blame lay with one man, the founder and CEO of the company, Fukuhara Takazumi, aka Kominato Takazumi.

The Tokyo metropolitan police alone has received 27 complaints from individual owners, who are seeking the return of 70 watches worth a total of 100 million yen (~US$660,335). Online impacted owners have teamed up to try to seek the return of their watches, reporting that 730 watches, at a minimum, are missing. Those have an estimated total value of 1.6 billion yen (~US$10,565,360).

watch shopping tokyo
Image courtesy of Craft + Tailored

Tokyo police were eventually able to issue an arrest warrant for Takazumi for allegedly selling a Rolex that had been “deposited” with the company to a watch dealer in Osaka in January 2024. But the warrant came too late: Takazumi had boarded a flight to Dubai the day the company shut down.

It’s reported in the Japanese Times that he stopped at an antique dealer in Tokyo where he sold several other watches that did not belong to him before heading to the airport. Plane tickets are at least more practical than a Ducati and a Lambo…

Toke Match closing note

At this point, Takazumi is believed to still be in Dubai, and hundreds of watches remain missing, including those owned by the office worker renting out the watches he had inherited from his father. The watch dealer reports Toke Match mailed him back 17 of the 43 watches he had placed with the company, although it is not surprising that only the cheapest ones were returned. 

These watches are out there somewhere and probably trickling onto the second-hand market. When we asked readers what their top tips for new watch collectors was, “buy the seller” came up over and over again – and it’s an axiom that remains true. Shop carefully out there!