“Is it safe to buy watches online?”, “Where should I consider buying watches online?” or “What should I pay attention to when buying a watch online?” are some of the questions I've been hearing a lot lately and It's not surprising. More and more of us are purchasing watches online and there is no doubt that the current pandemic has only increased the volume of online watch sales.
As someone who has purchased several watches online, I wanted to put together a short post that should help guide you through the process... If there is something you think I missed or should add, please let me know!
1. Find the right watch!
The first step is to find the right watch. Seems simple, right? It isn't! There are so many great watch brands out there and each has dozens of excellent models. Fortunately, there are almost an endless amount of resources that can help you make a decision. The best places to focus on are:
Watch blogs: Hodinkee, Ablogtowatch, Monochrome, Watchpro and of course The Everyday Watch... An easy way to stay on top of your favorite blogs is to set up an account at Feedspot. I've been using Feedspot for a few weeks now and I love that I get a daily summary of new posts from my favorite blogs.
Facebook groups: These have truly been a game-changer for me. As you know, we primarily focus on Rolex, Omega and Breitling at The Everyday Watch and although I've joined several watch groups, I'm most active in Rolex Collectors World, Omega Watch Owners, and Breitling Owners Club. There are more than 150,000 members across those three groups and they are a great place to ask questions about specific models or just get some general recommendations. I should also say, that you don't have to own a watch from that specific brand to join. Everyone is welcome and I think you will have a hard time finding groups of more engaged watch enthusiasts anywhere.
The New Breitling 2020 Chronomat Special Edition "Frecce Tricolori"
2. Verify that it is the right watch!
Once you've picked a model that you really like, I would ideally recommend going to check it out in person if you can. I know that is probably impossible right now, but I just wanted to remind you that a watch might leave you with a very different impression once you put it on your wrist.
You might think you can pull off that 46mm Breitling you really like, but when you try it on in the store you realize you just can't swing it. You could also realize that the weight is more than you want, or that the dial color looks different in real life. The bottom line is, there are an endless amount of reasons that might reconsider your purchase.
Again, I realize that going to the store is likely not an option right now. Alternatively, you can use one of the many Facebook groups and ask for input from members that might have the specific reference you want. They might be able to show you some additional pictures or answer any concerns you have.
Lastly, you should make sure that whomever you purchase the watch from has a return policy. That way, if you receive your watch and you suddenly have buyers' remorse, you can return the watch within the allotted period.
The Breitling SuperOcean Heritage
3. Pay the right price!
So, you've found the right model and you verified that it is the watch you want, now you just want to make sure you are not paying too much. This is another great advantage of having access to watches online. Within a fairly short time span you can compare dozens of prices. Now, that is not to say that the lowest price you find for a given watch is necessarily the best – but it could be. I recommend starting with chrono24 and their free appraisal tool.
This will give you an idea of what price range the watch falls in. All you need to do is type in the reference number, brand or model and select if you are looking at pre-owned or unworn, and chrono24 will instantly give you a price range.
As an example, I typed in Ref. 184.108.40.206.04.001 (White Dial Omega Seamaster 300M) and selected "unworn". While the retail price for this watch is US$ 5,200, you can see that according to chrono24, the "current market value" for this watch in unworn condition averages around US$ 4,117.
That is not to say that chrono24 is the definitive guide to what a watch may be worth, but it can certainly give you a good place to start.
If you are planning on selling a watch you can also get a more tailored appraisal on other websites, such as at Value Your Watch. You'll have to provide a few extra pieces of information and images, but you will get an individualized appraisal at no cost.
The White Dial Omega Seamaster Master Co-Axial Chronometer
4. Buy from a Seller you can trust!
Several brands are opening up their own e-commerce websites or are authorizing their dealers to sell watches online. These are likely the safest places to buy watches online, and they should come with full factory warranties. A good example of this would be Govberg Watches, who is an authorized dealer of Rolex, Omega and Breitling.
Outside of those authorized dealers, there are other dealers that I have either used myself or I've heard good things about. They include Chrono24, Jomashop, Crown & Caliber, or Delray Watch. One thing that I will add about chrono24, is that it is essentially an online watch market. Any private seller can post their watch on chrono24 as long as they set up an account. That being said, chrono24 provides a "verified dealer" designation to "dealers who have demonstrated consistent reliability and trustworthiness on chrono24". If you purchase on chrono24, I recommend looking for your target watch among verified dealers first.
Outside of these dealers, you can also go check out Amazon and eBay. Depending on which model you are looking for you can certainly find good deals on amazon and if you are a prime member, you might also receive your watch faster than with other options. Ebay is probably the riskier one of the two options, but you might be able to find a particularly rare item, as well as some of the best deals.
The Rolex Explorer II 16570 Black Dial
5. Ask ALL the necessary questions!
Once you've picked the right watch, you verified that it is the one & you know what price you should be paying and found a seller that you think you can trust, don't hesitate to ask them as many questions as it takes for you to feel comfortable with the purchase. Don't be afraid to annoy the seller, a good seller will not mind and understand that you are simply doing your due diligence.
These are 10 questions that I recommend you ask the seller before agreeing to purchase the watch:
I. What is the general History of the watch?
II. Does the watch come with original box & papers?
III. Does the watch come with some type of authentication from a certified watchmaker?
IV. Are there any other items (booklets, pouches, straps, etc.) included in the sale?
V. When was the watch last serviced?
VI. Is the watch still under some type of warranty or will it be under a warranty?
VII. What damage (dents, scratches, function limitation, etc.) does the watch have?
VIII. What types of payments do you accept? (Secured online payment, Paypal, Wire, etc.)
IX. How will the watch be shipped?
X. If it's a private seller, can you provide references?
Lastly, you can ask for a picture of the watch with your name on a piece of paper behind it and ask to set the time with your desired time.
If you think there is something else we need to add to this guide, please let us know in the comment section below and make sure to subscribe!