Buy. Sell. Trade.
No, I’m not talking about Wall Street. I’m talking about what you should WEAR on Wall Street — timepieces! Or, as “muggles” would call them — watches. By the way, I have decided to refer to non-timepiece people as “muggles.” If you’re not sure what a muggle is, look it up….
If trading timepieces were a sport, I’d be a semi-pro or at least a junior major. So let’s chat about selling and trading your pieces.
There are a lot of myths about buying and selling watches. Many people, mostly muggles, seem to think that a watch does not lose any value. And this is so false. Most watches depreciate like cars and some depreciate even more. I remember laughing at an add on Kijiji where a guy was selling his old Baume & Mercier. The ad said, “This is a discontinued model, therefore it can only increase in value.” Man, did I laugh. Here is an example to prove this guy wrong. My pal had a 39mm Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak and he wanted to sell it to fund a new Rolex. He did sell it- but he had to take a substantial discount because AP have since introduced a 41mm Royal Oak, rendering the 39mm model far less desirable. That’s an AP!!!! And it’s the same with discontinued models — they are often less valuable because the newer versions are in high demand.
You gotta be realistic. When you’re selling your old piece, you have to keep in mind that it has been opened, worn, abused, banged, nicked, sweat on and it may no longer be on warranty. Any potential buyer could easily go to the store and buy himself a brand new piece, so your asking price should take this into consideration.
Of course, some brands do extremely well with their resale value such as Panerai and Rolex. But even Panerai depreciate. For me, one of the selling points of Panerai is that they hold their value and you can resell one after a couple of years and recoup a lot of your initial investment — but not all. You’ll still take a hit and if there are issues with the condition of said Panerai, you might lose even more. My first Panerai was a Radiomir 210 and I traded it after 6 months at a zero loss. That’s because I had bought it at an amazing price in a private sale, which leads me to my next point.
So you’re ready to sell or trade your old timepiece(s) to fund your next acquisition. And you have a realistic idea of how much your piece will sell for. Now what? Do you place an ad in your local paper? Do you tape flyers to the lamp posts on your block? Do you place a sign in your window? This is where most guys are just lost and give up.
I was lucky on my first couple of watch sales. I sold to co-workers and friends. These were pure private sales and these were the best. In some cases, my friends had accompanied me to the store when I originally bought whichever piece I was selling, so they knew for sure the history of the piece. This allowed me to get top dollar for my watches, even though top dollar still meant a 30%-40% loss on some. Before putting a watch up for sale, ask your friends if they would like a bargain on well-maintained timepiece. You might easily find a buyer. Oh, so none of your friends have good enough taste to acquire one of your fine timepieces?…
Well, you can sell your watch on eBay. I have sold watches on eBay and done extremely well, to be honest. The advantage of eBay is that you have a worldwide reach and many potential buyers. The disadvantages are the selling fees, shipping and lack of personal contact with the buyer. Selling a watch on eBay is a nerve-racking experience. You get the money by PayPal, but then you must somehow package up your watch to withstand a mail delivery, take it to UPS or FedEx or somebody, deal with customs forms…. And then you’re always worried about your watch not arriving and the buyer making a dispute against you with PayPal and losing your money. This is no fun. I once sold a Montblanc Timewalker on eBay in one of my best deals. But I remember getting notified that UPS showed up at the guy’s house in Atlanta and just left the package on the guy’s porch!!!! I waited 4 hours for the guy to confirm he had received the watch. That was a good deal financially, but that was too stressful.
Then there’s Kijiji. I actually bought one piece from a guy on Kijiji and this was fine- the seller was in my town so we e-mailed back and forth and then we met for a coffee. I was able to try on the piece, test it, inspect the box and paperwork and then pay for it in cash, face-to-face with no fees or shipping. This was good for myself and for the seller. Like eBay, however, Kijiji is full of muggles so you don’t always deal with real watch people and you can never be sure how well the watch was cared for. Now wouldn’t it be great to combine the audience of eBay with the personal connections on Kijiji and with a pool of real watch guys?
Welcome to www.canwatchco.ca… Canadian Watch Collector (CWC). Adam has already blogged about CWC, which is really just a Canadian forum for buying, selling and trading watches. The beauty of CWC is that you can deal with people across Canada or you can focus on local face-to-face deals, like I did. I have acquired 3 pieces using CWC and two of these deals allowed me to trade in other pieces toward the new ones. It’s not rocket science – CWC merely connects you to potential buyers and sellers. From there, you meet the person and negotiate your deal. I did only face-to-face deals here in Montreal and I found exactly what I was looking for right here in my own back yard. CWC users are all registered members of the website and are typically savvy watch collectors. So you’re likely to avoid muggles by using CWC. I can’t really see any disadvantage to CWC except that all transactions are done between individuals with no eBay or PayPal-type buyer protection. But as a seller, you don’t care about that! If you are trying to sell some watches, I highly recommend CWC. It’s totally free, so what have you got to lose?
One final option for selling your watches is to sell them to a pre-owned store in your area, if you have one. This is fast and easy. But, in my experience, you will not get a great price. Having said that, I have a friend who has done this several times with real high end pieces like AP and JLC and he has done OK.
So, I guess this is my summary of buying, selling and trading watches. Be realistic. If you’re selling a 3-year-old Oris, you will probably lose 50% of your initial purchase. If you’re trying to buy a pre-owned Panerai, you’re not going to get one for two grands… Look for private sales and use CWC to help find potential buyers. And have fun. As always, when it comes to watch deals, the fun is in the search….