If you’re buying a watch—especially your first one—there’s always some risk.
That risk diminishes with experience and knowledge, but obviously, this is one learning curve it’s best to get on the other side of before you make a big purchase.
So, how do you make sure you’re getting an authentic timepiece that’s really in the condition it says it is and that’s a fair price?
That’s a tall order, but these six tips will help get you moving in the right direction.
1. Do Your Homework on the Timepiece
Get to know the watch you’re buying.
Read fact sheets from the brand, consumer reviews, and guides written by enthusiasts.
This will help give you a better picture of what the timepiece will be like in real life and make it easier to compare the timepiece that’s for sale with the actual stats.
If anything in the ad is not consistent with stats you can verify from a reputable source, decide whether to ask questions and tread carefully or just walk away.
2. Research Pricing
As part of your research, you should be able to get a good feeling for what fair pricing is for any given timepiece.
If it’s much higher or much lower than others, something’s amiss.
Oftentimes, counterfeit sellers will list at a much lower price to get a buyer quick, while price-gouging is an issue unto its own.
Bear in mind, pricing is not a definitive sign something’s wrong or right, but it should give you pause if it’s not consistent with similar pieces.
3. Take a Hard Look at the Photos
Experienced sellers will take photos of the timepiece at multiple angels and capture all its features.
You can use these to compare what’s being sold to images from reputable sites, like watch blogs or the brand’s website.
If you see things that are off, such as mismatched hands, pushers in the wrong place, or lack of signature features, chances are you’re either looking at a counterfeit or a timepiece that was not maintained well.
One other telltale sign of a poorly-maintained timepiece—stripped screws.
A timepiece that has been sent to the manufacture or even a skilled repair shop for servicing will never have stripped screws.
Those are a sign that someone who shouldn’t have been opening a case did so.
If you see them, there’s no telling what else is happening on the inside of the case until you take it in somewhere and have it checked out.
By then, it’s usually too late. Keep an eye out for things like this and excess wear and tear or damage.
4. Ask for Documents
Not every pre-owned timepiece will come with a box and papers.
That’s not a red flag by itself, though it is usually a good sign when they’re provided.
When those aren’t available, ask if there are records regarding servicing.
Again, no papers may not mean there’s a problem with the timepiece, but if other things about the seller or the timepiece seem off too, it’s probably better to walk.
5. Use an Escrow and Authentication Service
Using an escrow and authentication service when buying a watch can give you greater confidence and it helps the seller too.
What happens in these circumstances is fairly straightforward; a third-party acts as an intermediary between the buyer and seller.
That third-party inspects the timepiece to guarantee authenticity and accepts payment from the buyer.
When funds from the buyer clear and the timepiece checks out, the intermediary sends the timepiece to the buyer and the funds to the seller, thus protecting both parties.
The buyer won’t lose his cash and is guaranteed an authentic timepiece and the seller has an easier time with the transaction because buyers have more confidence, plus there’s no concern over payment issues.
6. Know Your Seller
If you can’t use an intermediary or chose not to, know your seller.
Find out who you’re buying a watch from and whether they have a good reputation or not.
Run a search for the name online and check for reviews.
Buy a Watch Through Value Your Watch
The primary goal of Value Your Watch is to make buying a watch or selling one a simple and transparent process.
We’re collectors and enthusiasts ourselves, so we know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table.
That’s why we integrated features that make it easy for you to research sellers before you speak with them, simple to contact them directly, and even offer escrow and authentication services too.
Plus, we take care of our sellers. We make it cost-effective for them to use our marketplace, so they can pass those savings onto you.
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.