If you have been looking for pre-owned Rolex watches on-line, you’ve probably come across Bob’s Watches, the Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange. This company, in its current format, was founded and lead by Paul Altieri since 2009. As some people are still a bit hesitant to buy watches on-line or to buy pre-owned Rolex watches in general, we decided to do an interview with Paul Altieri from Bob’s Watches to give you a better understanding of who’s behind the Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange and how they operate.
(FW) Where does the name “Bob’s watches” come from, as you are the founder and your name is Paul?
(PA) Bob Thompson. Bob started the company back in the mid 1990’s, then selling lower-end watches like Elgin, Hamilton, and Omega. We bought the company in 2009 and took the website down. The plan was to revamp the site into The Rolex Exchange model where both the buy and the sell price were listed creating an on-line, transparent marketplace for buyers and sellers.
I am the founder of The Rolex Exchange concept behind Bob’s Watches. The primary goal behind the concept is to allow customers to see both prices so they can be assured they are getting a fair price. After hearing from customers over and over yearn for a way to know they were getting a fair deal, I felt the market was long overdue for something more efficient and open.
Trust and honesty are still our most important qualities. We know people are placing an enormous amount of trust in us and we feel that’s the most important thing.
How did you get involved in (selling) watches and especially, why Rolex?
I got my start out of college selling fine jewellery and watches back in 1980 but came to enjoy working with higher end watches like Rolex and Patek Philippe more so. What started out as a sideline or passion to jewellery 30 years ago has now turned into a multi million dollar business making Bob’s the largest dealer in pre-owned Rolex. While I love all fine watches, Rolex has always been my favorite for its style and design. I can wear it skiing or scuba diving as well as to a bank meeting. Its fits with any occasion. And helps explain why Rolex is the best and largest luxury watch manufacturer in the world.
You have this exchange concept for Rolex watches. Does this mean you also sell watches in consignment or is it purely on a sell/buy basis?
No. We only sell watches that we own outright. Our customers are typically busy people so we make every attempt to make it fast, easy, safe, and hassle free to buy or sell their watch.
What are the major risks when buying a Rolex watch from an ‘unkown’ website or company and how do you mitigate these risks yourself? (in other words: why should people buy at Bob’s watches and not via on-line forums or market places directly. What is your added value over these channels for the customer?)
At Bob’s Watches, our name and reputation mean everything… so we stand behind every watch we sell. It is much more important to buy from a well-known dealer directly when buying pre-owned watches. The saying goes: “Buy the seller, then the watch”. All of our watches are restored at an authorized Rolex facility using only factory Rolex parts ensuring that every watch we sell is 100% genuine and authentic Rolex. We also offer a lifetime authenticity warranty in addition to the 1 year service warranty.
People are often confused with eBay. eBay does not sell watches. They only provide the platform for buyers and seller to connect so often times you really have no idea who that seller really truly is on eBay.
You also sell vintage Rolex watches. This means you know probably best, that this can be – and actually is – quite a snake pit. What would you advice people that are looking for a vintage sports Rolex?
Don’t by from eBay or a (non-watch) forum (e.g Craigslist) as it’s far too risky to know what you are really buying from. Buy from a reputable dealer that stands behind his name and reputation. There are plenty but be sure to do your homework and make sure they have actual stock of the item. We are professional watch dealers and we don’t even trust buying or selling on eBay.
As for a watch itself, I personally like the Submariner 5512, 5513, and 1680 models and the GMT 1675 models best. I would recommend buying one that is all original meaning the dial, hands, and bezel etc are the original parts that came on the watch. And if your budget allows, buy one with its original papers. Since we deal directly with individuals, most of the watches we acquire are all original.
No-one can perform a 100% all the time, everyone makes mistakes, both sellers and buyers. What happens when a customer – after purchasing a vintage Rolex from you – notices that there are some replacements parts on his watch or that something is wrong with it in a way. Do you offer some kind of authenticity warranty?
Yes. All our watches go through a full 5 point inspection by four different people so while it is slim that one could slip by, we do have an Authenticity Pledge in place. That pledge states that a customer may return their watch at any time if the watch is not 100% authentic Rolex, or if its description was misrepresented.
As you probably know, Rolex started to deliver their new watches with a warranty card with a magnetic strip. Our guess is that it records information from the retailer where it was sold. In case of a service or repair, the retailer can check whether the watch has been bought through an official channel and that is is ‘cleared’ for any kind of repair or service. If the magnetic strip has no data on it, it might be an issue to have the watch repaired. At least, this is our guess. What is your take? How will you be able (as a pre-owned Rolex specialist) to check this data on the cards?
I don’t think this new card is in the USA yet. But we fully support anything that will help control the supply of legitimate sales channels.
What is your own favorite Rolex?
The old vintage Rolex Daytona model 6263!! Or the Military Issue 5513. I have one of each.
Are you a collector yourself?
Absolutely!! I have dozens of some really cool vintage pieces. When we get one in or a call on one, I will pay full market value because I keep them in my collection. It’s really a lot of fun to hear the life stories of the people who owned these amazing watches!
Besides Rolex, which brand would you ever consider to sell or trade as well?
Tudor, Patek Philippe, Panerai, Cartier, Breitling, Vacheron Constantin.
Thank you for this interview!
More on Bob’s Watches can be found here.