It isn’t necessarily difficult to find a reputable watch seller online, but unfortunately, one bad egg can really spoil the batch.
Most of us have heard horror stories about someone who either never got a timepiece he paid for, wound up with a fake, or was met with hostility and unhelpfulness.
These are the stories which are perpetuated even though they’re few and far between.
It makes sense to be cautious, though. When you’re spending thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a luxury item, you deserve to be treated well and receive a timepiece that’s everything you expect it to be.
Use this page as a checklist to ensure you’ve connected with a reputable watch seller who will make the transaction as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
1. They’re Responsive
Prompt responses to your messages indicate you’re working with a reputable watch seller and are basic good customer service.
If you’re working with an individual rather than a business, a 24-hour turnaround on messages is a safe standard.
If you’re working with a business, they should be getting back to you within one business day.
When you get a response, you should also double check that the name of the person messaging you matches up with the name on the ad or listing if one is supplied.
Although seemingly straightforward, many fraudsters misstep here. They may inadvertently forget which name they’re using or say they’re an intermediary for someone.
The latter has the potential to check out in the end. It’s not uncommon for a son or grandson to help his father/ grandfather manage the tech aspects of an online sale.
However, you’ll want to ensure the seller passes other checks if this is the story given and be prepared to walk away from the purchase if something seems off.
2. You Get Your Questions Answered
The amount of info a seller has will vary.
For example, a dealer isn’t going to be able to tell you the full history of a timepiece.
He’ll be able to tell you what condition it’s in now and when it was serviced. An individual may be able to regale you with stories about how a timepiece was worn by his granddad after coming home from the war or how it was a college graduation gift he never really liked, perhaps with details about when it was serviced or how much he wore it.
In any case, a reputable watch seller will answer questions to the best of his ability.
3. Rave Reviews are Plentiful
Sites like Value Your Watch give you Vendor Information right alongside details of each timepiece.
This includes a star rating system, which will indicate what kind of experience other buyers have had with any given seller.
This is true whether you’re working with a business or an individual. When you’re connecting specifically with a business, you can also scope out sites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google to learn what a vendor is like.
One word of caution on reviews: bad reviews are necessarily bad.
If someone has been selling for a while, there’s a chance they’ve come across people who are challenging—you know, the ones who want to pay $1,000 for a $10,000 timepiece or had a sale fall through because they didn’t act quickly enough.
Take things in context as you read. Even a reputable watch seller can have a couple bad reviews, though the vast majority should be good.
4. Google Checks Come Up Clear
Run Google searches for the name of the person you’re working with and the business name, if applicable.
This may turn up additional reviews or seller profiles on other sites.
A serious collector or dealer will probably be posting on forums and may even have his own site too.
Treat this as you would the reviews and try to get an overall feel for how the person behaves and acts.
It’s also a good idea to check how long his accounts have been active. New accounts do not necessarily mean he’s running a fly-by-night operation, but older and established accounts are typically a good sign.
As an aside, you can append words like “scam” or “seller” to your searches to give you more relevant results.
It’s also advantageous to do reverse image searches. A reputable watch seller isn’t likely to be using many, if any at all, stock photos.
When doing reverse image searches, explore the seller’s profile photo and see where else it shows up. If it’s stock or affiliated with accounts that do not match the seller’s name or business name, that’s a huge red flag.
Chances are, however, you’ll just find other authentic profiles to peruse. Once you’ve checked the seller’s photo, run a few of the timepiece.
Your seller may have the same timepiece on multiple sites and that’s ok, but if you discover they’re stock images or they’re taken from old listings, auctions, blogs, etc., you should start questioning the authenticity of the seller.
Note: Running reverse image searches is easy and there are many services that will enable you to do so. If you need help running one on Google, see their how-to article.
5. You Can Easily Find Them Online
This goes hand-in-hand with the Google searches. It’s virtually impossible to find someone without any kind of online footprint.
You’ll almost always find something whether you’re searching for a name, using their email address, or running reverse image searches.
It may be basic a Facebook or LinkedIn profile or something minor, but you will almost always find something.
If your search turns up nothing when you’re looking for a person by name, proceed with caution.
If your search turns up nothing when looking for a business, you may want to reconsider doing business with them.
6. They’ll Provide a List of References
When it comes to watch dealers, you’ll probably have no need for a list of references because you’ll find reviews.
However, if you’re working with one that doesn’t have reviews or with individuals who do not have an established record as a reputable watch seller, ask for references and use them.
Run searches for the names, email addresses, or phone numbers to ensure they’re legit and hop on the phone, even if only for a moment, to connect with the person.
7. They’re Happy to Chat Over the Phone
In this day and age, many people are far more comfortable with online communication and have an easier time working messages into their hectic days by leveraging tech too.
However, a reputable watch seller will make time to get on the phone with you to discuss the timepiece, clear up confusion, or walk you through the sales process.
If the person you’re working with refuses to get on the phone or continually pushes scheduled calls out, consider this a major warning sign.
The person you’re talking to online may not be who they’re representing themselves as.
On a side note, this is a great way to get to the heart of it when someone claims to be selling a timepiece on behalf of a family member.
If that person cannot come to the phone to talk with you, is “out of the country,” or you hear similar excuses, there’s a good chance something’s amiss.
8. They’re Ok with Using Verifiable Third-Party Services
There’s a lot of debate about using third-party services, but most of this comes from misinformation about what that means.
There are even blogs out there that will tell you it’s not safe an escrow service. NOT TRUE! Escrow services are designed to protect both the buyer and the seller.
The service accepts payment and then holds it until it’s clear and the buyer receives the timepiece. Then, payment is released to the seller.
This way, a buyer cannot get away with fraudulent payment methods and a seller cannot get away with shipping fake, damaged, or misrepresented items.
The problem that comes in here is that in the early 2000s, scammers caught on to how trustworthy escrow sites were, and so they started setting up their own to run their games.
Ergo, you should absolutely be wary if someone wants you to use “Jim Bob’s Escrow and Widget Sales” or whatever the company name may be.
You should research the company and find out if it is legit or use the escrow service offered by the platform you’ve been shopping on. Another common issue come in when scammers suggest you use PayPal’s “Friends and Family” setting to send payment to avoid the fee.
Yes, you avoid the fee, but you also lose all protection as a buyer. If the seller scams you, PayPal will not return the money. The bottom line: escrow services make transactions safer and there’s no logical reason why someone wouldn’t agree to use one.
Even who pays for it is negotiable. However, if they outright refuse to use one or they won’t use one with a verifiable reputation, your alarm bells should be ringing.
The same is true of valuation or authentication services.
Sure, a dealer with a great track record is probably going to roll his eyes at your request to authenticate a piece, but if you’re willing to pay for the authentication, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t agree.
Again, though, always make sure any third party you bring into the sales process has a verifiable reputation.
Disclosure: The link above is affiliate link. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, Value Your Watch,LLC will earn a commission if you click thought and make a purchase.
Find Quality Timepieces from Reputable Watch Sellers on Value Your Watch
We’re watch enthusiasts just like you, so we know how important it is to ensure you’re working with an authentic person who has a good reputation when you make a purchase like this.
That’s why we’ve integrated countless features that bring an unparalleled level of transparency to the sales process.
Each timepiece is displayed with seller information, so you can run checks before ever contacting him or her. A star rating is listed too, letting you know what other shoppers have experienced with a vendor.
We also include services like escrow, payment portals, and authentication, so you can move forward with absolute confidence without ever having to leave the platform. Sound good? Head over to our marketplace to see our huge selection of luxury timepieces now.