Paul Anthony Collection In Leather Watch Roll

Although buying a pre-owned watch has not been without risks, we have long believed that it can offer exceptional value for the money. In recent times, if such shopping was done online, the three or four main sources of timepieces had remained mostly unchanged.

This stalemate, which marketplaces and online dealers seemed content to tolerate, was to the detriment of the buyers forking over their hard-earned cash. With eBay’s new Watch Authentication Service, we may start to see a new trend regarding where buyers can find the best experience.

In this review, you will learn about the eBay Watches Authentication service as we cover the followings points:

Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.

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Pre-Owned Watch Trends

Vintage Rolex GMT Master with Cigar and Champagne

Over the past couple of years, the sources available to those looking to buy a pre-owned watch had remained relatively stagnant. The same can be said for the advantages and disadvantages posed by each.

For instance, a buyer could go the way of a pre-owned watch dealer. In such a scenario, the buyer pays a significant premium for a watch that’s often in “like-new” condition, is guaranteed to be authentic, and carries with it some sort of mechanical warranty.

On the other hand, in an effort to save money or when working with a tighter budget, buyers could look to online marketplaces and forums. Through these avenues, a buyer was likely to find a competitively-priced watch sold in “as-is” condition, without any kind of warranty, and with the seller’s word as the sole guarantee of authenticity.

The players in this game may have changed. Pre-owned watch dealers have come and gone, online marketplaces have popped up and fizzled out. Yet, the trade-off lingered – buyers pay more for guaranteed authenticity, or they take a risk to save hundreds if not thousands on a luxury timepiece purchase.

That is, until now.

Before: Buying Pre-Owned Watches On eBay

eBay has long been known within the watch community for a few things.

Montecristo White Series

Speedy ’57 in the wild

First of all, it’s one of the few places where you can find just about any watch model from any year. As long as someone is actively trying to sell it, it’s likely to be listed on eBay. In other words, if it’s not on eBay, it’s probably not for sale.

Secondly, eBay is also known as the place where buyers can go to get rock-bottom prices. This is likely due to the fact that the platform is used by both small and large-scale sellers to move inventory as quickly as possible. The former work with tighter margins that translate to lower prices for buyers. The latter are known for using the marketplace as a vehicle to “price down” inventory they wouldn’t otherwise discount on their own virtual storefronts. 

It’s also a platform where the watch dealers (same folks referenced earlier) can mark down the inventory they wouldn’t otherwise discount on their own websites. Given these factors, eBay is where you’re likely to find the best pricing.

Lastly, and closely intertwined with the previous point on low prices, is a vital concern. Present in the mind of any watch buyer is the worry that they’re being sold a counterfeit watch. While widely recognized as one of the best places to “get a deal”, a watch purchased on eBay generally came with no tangible guarantee regarding its authenticity.

IWC Pilot's Chrono Black Ceramic

IWC Pilot’s Chrono in Ceramic

On eBay, you could buy a watch that someone wanted off their hands quickly so they let it go for below market value. Alternatively, you could also buy a high-end counterfeit sold by an astute (and unscrupulous) individual who understood that the right price can make a buyer forget the old “if it’s too good to be true…” adage.

Even if the chances of buying a counterfeit on eBay were low, it was much higher than the perceived 0% chance of this occurring with a pre-owned watch dealer. One can’t blame the consumer for this reasoning, though.

When spending thousands of dollars on a timepiece, many would agree to pay a 10 or 20% premium to be completely certain that their timepiece is legitimate.

Naturally, this final yet critical aspect undoubtedly led many a watch buyer away from eBay’s marketplace and into the hands of dealers across the country.

Shop Pre-Owned Watches On eBay

Now: Buying On eBay With Authenticity Guaranteed

This is not to say that eBay isn’t a massive hub of pre-owned watch sales in the modern-day. In fact, it’s likely one of the largest online wristwatch marketplaces in the world, seeing as how more than 2 million wristwatches were sold on eBay last year.

However, it was clear to the team at eBay that there was room for improvement. This improvement took the shape of a game-changing initiative: a new Authenticity Guarantee on all items (new or pre-owned) in the wristwatches category that sell for $2,000 or more.

eBay 3 Step Authentication

What Is The eBay Authenticity Guarantee?

eBay Authenticity Badge Sub

With eBay’s newest service, any qualifying watch purchased through ‘Buy It Now’ or via auction with a final price of $2k or more will take a slight detour before making way to its final destination.

The guaranteed watches, which will be differentiated on eBay with a blue checkmark and ‘Authenticity Guarantee’ badge, are shipped to a third-party authenticator upon purchase.

The previously-vetted authenticator verifies that the item matches the listing description and also completes a multi-step physical inspection within two days of receipt.

Once approved, the watch is tagged, a serialized authentication card is produced, and the package is sent out to the buyer. If for any reason the watch does not pass the authentication step, the item is returned to the seller and the buyer is refunded.

The shipping service employed from authenticator to customer is insured, signature-required, 2-day shipping. And while this entails a longer interval from purchase to delivery, it is unlikely that any buyer will mind the wait given that the authentication services are completely free.

It also bears importance noting how this new authentication process will protect sellers. If a buyer decides to open a return, the watch and all the original components must be shipped to the authenticator.

The third-party will once more verify that the watch is in the same condition, all accessories are present, and the ‘security’ tag is still attached before approving the return and shipping the watch back to the seller.

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Closing Thoughts

It’s hard to see how eBay’s new Authenticity Guarantee is not a positive change, not only for the most devoted of watch collectors but for the watch community as a whole.

eBay Authenticated Watch in Package

The concern of buying a ‘fake’ watch on eBay was a genuine one. Instead of trying to ignore the issue and hoping it went away (as if this approach ever works), eBay has taken focused measures to mitigate it. Most importantly, they’ve done so in a way that doesn’t deter the price-conscious consumer, which is exactly how many watch buyers can be described.

As a watch collector who has fallen prey to counterfeit eBay watches in the past, I can say that previous to the debut of the Authenticity Guarantee, I would’ve had a hard time buying a watch on eBay again. Now that I’m aware of the additional cost-free authentication step, I would have no issue buying through eBay once more.

Finally, seeing an eComm giant express such a clear interest in protecting its horological clientele shows promise for the watch-buying experience on eBay. As an avid collector of watches, luxurious and not, I can’t help but be enthusiastic about what eBay may come up with next.

But the Authenticity Guarantee is not all that’s new at eBay. They’ve also implemented a partnership with Escrow.com for an additional layer of security in wristwatch sales over $10,000.

You can read more about it, as well as all the details of the Authenticity Guarantee service, over at ebayinc.com or by watching eBay’s video below:

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Further Reading

Now that you have read about eBay’s new authenticity program, check out some of our related watch resources:

"Additional buyer protection and guarantees through eBay has made the pre-owned watch shopping experience an exciting adventure again."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

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