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How to Sell or Trade Used Watches

Posted on December 11 2018

how to sell or trade used watches

Do you have any watches sitting around your house that you no longer wear or use? Maybe they’re watches you’ve inherited from family members. Maybe they were given as gifts, but they never quite fit your taste. Or maybe they’re watches you purchased in the past but have since moved on from. What are some of the practical ways you can still put these watches to good use and keep them from collecting dust in a drawer?

One of the best things to do with a watch you no longer want is to sell it. Unfortunately, this is a daunting prospect for many people, leading them to shy away from it altogether and put their old watches in a drawer never to be seen again. Here at Little Switzerland, however, we think that it doesn’t have to be a scary or complicated process at all. With a little research and know-how, you can quickly learn how to trade your watch like a pro.

If you've been asking yourself, “How do I trade my watch in for something a little more updated?” then we want to help. To get you started in this process, we’ve put together a guide featuring all the essential information you’ll need to begin thinking about selling or trading your used watch.

What Is the Best Place to Sell My Watch?

One of the first questions that’s likely to jump to mind as you start this process is the question of location and venue. Where should you sell your watch? You might wonder whether it’s better to go with an in-person retailer or an online-based shop. You might wonder if it matters at all, or if you can sell your watch simply anywhere with little consequence.

When it comes to selling watches, it’s true that there are many options available to you. For the sake of simplicity and explanation, let’s group these options into larger categories to discuss them.

best places to sell watches

1. Online Forums or Sales Boards

Online sales sites are mass forums where people can sell anything and everything, usually within a few days or even a few hours. With most options, you typically have the option of setting a price for your watch, or of setting up the sale as an auction and letting people bid whatever they’re willing to pay until someone comes out on top.

If you have a watch that’s perhaps a bit banged up and doesn’t have much re-sell value, this type of site is a perfectly acceptable place to sell it. Particularly if a watch is quite common and wasn’t expensive to begin with, you may end up getting the best price for it in an online forum. For any other types of watches, however, consider looking elsewhere.

2. Auction Houses

There are many auction houses out there hosting hugely popular auctions that generate massive amounts of money for highly-priced and hotly contested items. If your watch is a one-of-a-kind heirloom, you might have excellent luck selling your watch through a venue like this.

The disadvantage of a setting like this is that there’s no guarantee what price you’ll end up selling the watch for. Perhaps the bidding will skyrocket, sending the price up to astronomical heights. It’s also possible that your watch doesn’t generate much interest, leaving you with only a small amount of money for your watch.

3. Jewelry Retailers

Did you know that many jewelry retailers also work in trade-ins and resells? While their primary business may come from selling brand new jewelry, many of these businesses also buy used watches and resell them. Additionally, sometimes they may even offer trade-ins, allowing you more options so that you can find the method that works best for you.

For the average watch, a jewelry retailer is most likely your best bet when it comes to finding a new home for your watch. Be sure to research the jewelry retailer you’re considering before you commit, as different shops will have different policies. Some may pay cash, while others may allow only trade-ins and still others may pay in the form of gift cards for their current stock.

Do Repairs Affect Resell Value?

do repairs affect resale value

Let’s say that as you’re trying to figure out how to sell your watch, you realize one of the gears is stuck. You take it to a repair shop so it can be at its best for the new owners. Now, you’re wondering whether or not this was the right move. Will this affect the resell value in any way? Should you have attempted to do the repairs yourself? Should you not have made the repairs at all?

Watches are intricate, highly complex little machines. As such, they require care and attention to maintain their natural beauty as well as their accuracy when it comes to timekeeping. If you don’t take care of your watch, it could become damaged. The timekeeping might fall behind, the oil might dry out, and the parts might begin to stick together.

To combat these problems, you should get your watch serviced by professionals every four or five years, even if it doesn’t seem like it needs it. A complete servicing is something that should only be done by professionals, and it is not recommended that you try this at home unless you have years of experience and knowledge.

This process entails opening the watch and removing all the mechanical components, cleaning and oiling everything then putting it all back together. If this process is not completed every so often, the watch will begin to suffer, and more extensive repairs may be necessary.

When you go to resell a watch, a jeweler will immediately be able to tell if it has not been cared for properly or needs repairs. This means that in all likelihood, they will offer you a lower price for it than they otherwise would. But before you immediately assume that all watches should be repaired if necessary before selling them, it’s important to realize that the situation is slightly more complicated than that.

If the repairs are quite costly, you might be better off leaving the watch as-is and selling it to a jeweler or company that will make the necessary repairs on their own dollar. If you were to pay for the repairs yourself, you would likely end up spending so much money that it would offset any difference in price between selling the repaired watch compared to the un-repaired watch.

Repairs absolutely affect the resell value of a watch. However, you’ll want to think carefully about making any repairs before you sell a watch. Consider getting a price quote from a jeweler for both the sale and the repairs and weigh the difference before making a decision.

How Is the Purchase Price Affected by the Market Value?

A variety of different factors combine to determine the final purchase price of your watch. Things like the brand, the age, the condition, the metal, any added decorative touches and more all combine to create the final price that you’ll be given in exchange for your watch. One of the biggest factors is also one that is furthest from your control — market value.

An item’s market value is primarily determined by how much consumers are demanding a particular product and how readily available the product is. If huge numbers of people want an item, but it's relatively inaccessible, then the market value goes up. If, on the other hand, not very many people want it, the market value will drop, and your item will not be worth very much.

how is the purchase price affected by the market value

Because people develop such an affinity for brand names that carry the weight of prestige and luxury, certain watch brands command a higher market value than others. Rolex is an excellent example of a watch brand that retains a high market value partially because it is so highly desired. This means that if you’re selling a Rolex, you can likely expect to receive a purchase price much higher than for a very similar watch from a different competitor brand.

Other factors like the particular metals in a watch affect the purchase price and are also affected by market value as the price of various metals fluctuates.

Where Can I Find My Watch’s Model Name and Number?

When you go to sell your watch to someone, no matter which type of venue you’ve chosen, you’ll almost certainly need the model name and number. If you’re confused about how to find it, here are some quick and easy tips.

1. Most Brands

Most brands of watches keep things fairly simple. Most watches engrave the serial numbers and model numbers directly into the back of the watch, either on the inside or the outside. If you investigate and discover multiple numbers, do a little research into what the serial number for your brand should look like. How many digits does it have? By process of elimination, you should be able to find the right one.

If you find two or more numbers that fit the pattern for the model and serial numbers, try typing them into a search engine and seeing which one brings up your watch. This will be the number you’re looking for.

2. Rolex

Rolex watches are slightly more complicated. It’s easiest to find the number directly on the paperwork, provided you purchased the watch yourself and have access to these documents. If you don’t have the paperwork, you’ll need to find the watch number on the watch itself, which can be tricky.

You’ll need to remove the strap or bracelet to get a proper view of the watch lugs. One set of these lugs should display the model number, and another should show the serial number. It may be best to have this done professionally or else risk scratching your watch.

Additional Tips for a Successful Watch Sale

Knowing how to sell a watch is about more than just being smart with repairs, knowing where to sell it and understanding the principles or market value. It’s about being a savvy salesperson with a strong organizational system and a good head for details. With this in mind, here are a few extra tips to help you get the most out of your watch sale.

additional tips for a successful watch sale

1. Keep Excellent Records

When it comes to the process of selling your watch, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to record everything. Make a spreadsheet if that’s your style, or even just grab a post-it note and write everything down. Make a note of what day you sent out that email to a potential buyer. Save a copy of the price quote you got from a jeweler. This will help you keep things straight and organized in your own head, leading to a smoother overall selling process.

Ideally, you’ll have kept records throughout your watch’s lifespan, including when records of the different times it has been serviced, the purchase date, how much you paid for it and more. These are all things the watch’s new buyer will likely want to know.

2. Take the Right Pictures

Are you selling your watch online? Are you negotiating with a buyer or jeweler over email? Then much of the deal will likely come down to the pictures you’ve taken of the watch. If you want to get a reasonable price and convince people that your watch is worth their investment, you’ll need to take pictures that show it off to its best advantage. Try to take your photographs over a simple background, in a setting with natural light, but not too much direct light. Make sure there’s nothing else in the photo to distract from the watch and that the picture itself is in focus.

3. Save the Original Packaging

It may be too late to do anything about this if you bought or received your watch years ago, but it’s important to keep all the original packaging and paperwork that came with your watch. The paperwork contains information you’ll need to know about the watch to sell it. You can look this information up in most cases, but it’s a courtesy to the next buyer to include it. The packaging is simply about presenting the watch nicely and safely to the next buyer.

Sell or Trade Your Watch to Little Switzerland

At Little Switzerland, we’re proud to be the premier watch and jewelry retailer of the Caribbean. But while we’re passionate about providing an excellent assortment of luxury jewelry and watches, it isn’t the only thing we do. We also buy used watches from customers like you, and we do accept trade-ins as well. If we decide to buy your watch, we offer payment either in the form of cash or credit to our selection of other luxury items.

To get started selling or trading your watch to us here at Little Switzerland, just fill out our quick form and look forward to receiving your quote in about three to five days' time.

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