How to Start a Watch Collection Using eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee Program
Buy and sell luxury timepieces online with more confidence than ever before
In partnership with eBay
For watch collectors, or collectors of anything, really, the hunt itself is half the fun — identifying the next piece you covet and then searching high and low to find the example that’s perfect for you. Traditionally, this involved visits to watch dealers and shows, estate sales and auctions, in hopes of finding that diamond in the rough. Then along came the internet and, with it, one site in particular that brought all of those options together under one virtual roof: eBay. Dubbed the World’s Online Marketplace, savvy watch enthusiasts have been using eBay’s auctions and fixed-price listings for decades to buy, sell and transform their collections.
Those who have never bought (or sold) on eBay tend to have the same question: how do you know if you’re getting the real thing? While both eBay and PayPal (their corporate cousin and preferred payment method) have long had guarantees to protect both buyers and sellers, wouldn’t it be great if you could know for sure ahead of time whether the watch you’re eyeing is exactly what it claims to be? Well now, with eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee you can do exactly that.
The eBay Authenticity Guarantee is a game-changer for watch collectors, and the way it works is refreshingly simple. Once you’ve made your eBay watch purchase, the seller packages and prepares the watch as normal, but instead of sending it to you, he or she sends it to one of eBay’s trained and dedicated authenticators, who physically inspect the watch to verify that it’s exactly what was advertised. If it is, it’s packed into a snazzy suede box with an authentication card verifying its specifics, and it’s on its way to you. If anything is found to be awry, the transaction is canceled and you get your money back right away. Easy-peasy and all within two business days of it being received by the authenticators. And the best part? It’s completely free to both buyers and sellers. Anyone who has been in the watch game long enough can tell you that it unfortunately has a few bad actors, and this is eBay’s way of guaranteeing you don’t become one of their victims.
So now that you know eBay can be your trusted one-stop-shop for starting, growing or paring down your collection, where does one even begin to choose between their seemingly endless array of high-end timepieces? While every watch collection is personal and should reflect the collector’s unique tastes, we can help you with the basics. To start, we’ll group the world of mechanical watches as a whole into three general categories: the sport watch, the dress watch, and the statement watch. While your own collection may focus on one, two or all three of these categories, eBay has them all in spades.
The Sport Watch
The sport watch is also known as the tool watch, and certainly not in a derogatory way. The idea is that they actually help the wearer with something other than just telling time. While the most common models are built around sporting pursuits — a dive watch whose bezel can also time your dive, a GMT that can tell a pilot the time in two time zones at once, or a chronograph that can track a driver’s lap times to the second — tool watches have also helped doctors who needed to time a pulse or laboratory workers who needed their watches to resist strong magnetic fields. Sport watches are often the watches that start a collection, and with good reason. Not only are they rugged by design, they’re also quite versatile. While a luxury sport watch wouldn’t necessarily look out of place with a suit, a precious dress watch is less than ideal for a weekend hike. Here are three sport watches we love, all available with the eBay Authenticity Guarantee:
Start Here: TAG Heuer Monaco
While there are several watches that claim association with “The King Of Cool,” the Monaco is the watch that graced Steve McQueen’s wrist, in the legendary film Le Mans. The modern version of this classic is an affordable entry into the world of racing chronongraphs and one that boasts an undeniable pedigree and a unique look.
Add This: Tudor Oyster Prince Submariner
There is no denying that vintage Submariners — watches designed for exploring the depths of the ocean — are extremely cool. While the vintage Rolex versions may get the most hype (and boast the eye-watering prices to go with it), from a historical perspective the Submariner from their sister brand Tudor may be even more legit; there’s a reason they were issued by both the French Marine National and the U.S. Navy Seals. And the best part is they’re still relatively affordable, with examples like this one from 1963 available for well under five figures.
Sell Them Both For This One: Omega Speedmaster
When it comes to tool watches meant for a specific and rugged purpose, it’s tough to beat a watch successfully designed to handle going to the moon. While the original extra-terrestrial Speedy may have been housed in stainless steel, there’s no denying this solid rose gold version with its “panda” dial is one damn good looking piece.
The Dress Watch
Your father had one, his father had one, his father’s father had one — and if you’re lucky you still have the one that belonged to one of them. If not, it’s time to acquire one of your own, authenticity guaranteed. Understated and elegant, the slim dress watch on a leather strap is as much a staple in the well dressed gentleman’s wardrobe as a silk tie. This is the classic that will never go out of style, and it’s a watch every watch guy should have in his top drawer.
Start Here: Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox
How long has the Memovox been a dress watch icon? Charlie Chaplin wore one. An ironic choice for the silent film star, as the Memovox’s claim to fame was anything but silent. It houses an analog alarm function that, even in more modern versions such as the one here, sets off a delightfully tinny ring reminiscent of a rotary phone. Sure your iphone can tell you the time and set an alarm for you, but with nowhere near this much style.
Add This: Cartier Rotonde
If you’re a collector who appreciates pedigree in your dress watch, you can’t ignore Cartier. After all, they created one of the very first luxury men’s wristwatches when they placed a leather strap on a square gold timepiece commissioned by legendary airman and wealthy eccentric Alberto Santos Dumont. That very watch’s DNA is still apparent in the Cartier Rotonde, which features a hand-wound movement. Now, though, it’s housed in a sleek, round rose gold case with a silver guilloche in a much more modern 40mm size.
Sell Them Both For This: IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar
IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar is a big, expensive dress watch that is not for the meek of wrist. It manages to fit an awful lot of complications inside that slim, 44mm rose gold case: a moonphase, day, date, month and four-digit year indicator, all of which automatically adjust for a leap year, as well as sub-seconds and a power reserve indicator which lasts a full seven days. All that and it still fits neatly under your shirt cuff.
The Statement Watch
Let’s be honest here: one of the appeals of luxury watches is that they announce to others that you’re someone who can afford to buy luxury watches. And with that in mind, if you’re gonna flex, you might as well flex. There is no shortage of “big-boy” wristwear available on eBay, and when you’re dropping the price of a car, or a house, on a serious piece of bling, you’ll feel much better knowing you’re getting the real deal.
Start Here: Rolex Day-Date
There are few watches that say you’ve made it more than the Rolex Day-Date. Also known as the President, if you will, or the Prezzy, if you must, this solid hunk of yellow gold has been favored by men of real means and real power for almost 70 years and is perhaps more instantly recognizable than any other timepiece on the planet. If you want a watch that says you’ve both got it and are willing to flaunt it, the Day-Date is the literal gold standard.
Add This: A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwork
There are plenty of watches that say “I spent a lot of money on my watch.” The A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwork is a watch that says “I am a watch guy who spent a lot of money on my watch.” The Zeitwork is an absolute cult classic, and while it’s not a watch that everyone will know, those who know will definitely know. The white gold and black dial combo is perfect under a tuxedo, and it will make people think you’re so rich that you probably have a Zeitwork just to wear with your tuxedos.
Hell, Keep Both Of Those And Add This Too Since Money Clearly Isn’t An Object: Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980/1R-001
If the Rolex Day-Date was the watch that said you had money and power in the latter half of the 20th century, the gold Patek Nautilus is the one that screams you have it now. No one will think for a second that you inherited this watch — they’ll know you recently dropped Lamborghini money on it because that is just how you roll. Is this Patek’s most important, most complicated, or most significant watch? Far from it. But if you want a watch you can wear in a boardroom without embarrassment while still letting everyone in St. Barths over New Years know that one of those boats anchored out there is yours, this imposing hunk of rose gold is the way to do it.
A Few Notes on Selling:
What makes eBay the perfect place to buy your next watch also makes it the best place to sell one. When you’re ready to trade up to your next piece, instead of trading in, why not list it directly to collectors who will pay you what it’s worth?
A few tips to help you get the most out of your current watches:
- Take clear photos, and lots of them. Most smartphones today have advanced cameras built in, so there’s no reason for blurry, out of focus shots in your listing. Include at least one shot that’s from above and dead centered, clearly showing all of the logos and writing on the dial. Include wrist shots from above, each side, and below, as well as one off the wrist from the side to show if there is any stretch in a metal bracelet. Include a picture of the caseback, and if and only if you have the proper tools and skill, a picture of the movement. If the watch comes with any boxes, papers or accessories, include photos of those as well.
- Include as many details about the watch as possible. Include the measurements of the diameter of the watch vertically and horizontally, and measure the space between the lugs. Include the length of the strap or bracelet and if any links have been removed that you’re aware of. A watch’s serial number can usually be found on the caseback or between the lugs, and a quick internet search can usually tell you what year your watch was produced.
- Watches that are running well command more money. If your watch isn’t keeping accurate time, be honest about it. All mechanical watches should be serviced every 5-7 years, so if it’s been longer than that or you don’t know when the last service was, a service before selling is recommended.
- Participate in the eBay Authenticity Guarantee. It’s eligible for almost all watches valued at $2,000 or more, and it costs nothing to the seller or the buyer. If you have nothing to hide, there is no reason not to, and in the event you’re unsure about a watch’s provenance, this will settle it for you without the buyer having to get involved.
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