Part of the fun in collecting watches is acquiring a new (or another) gem for your collection. And sometimes, this also means you want or even need to let something go. “You can’t have it all” is my credo, and I assume it applies to many of you as well.

But how do you sell your watches? Sometimes, your watch can be traded in at an authorized or independent dealer. This is probably the easiest way, without any hassle on your side. The downside is that you will not get the best price for your watch. If you get a reasonable offer, it’s best to take it unless you’re willing to put in the work to get more.

how not to sell your watches

An IWC caliber 852 on offer — Image: Ricardo

Selling it yourself is the best way if you do it correctly

You can get the most for your watch by selling it yourself. This seems like a no-brainer, but it also means you should be willing to do a transaction with a stranger (with higher amounts that might raise some concerns). You might need to meet up with someone you don’t know, but it also means you need to take pictures and find a place to offer the watch for sale.


Shipping a watch is almost a job on its own

There’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done, including packing it up correctly and shipping it out. Especially when you ship outside your country or region, it can also become expensive due to the insurance costs (usually 1% of the value on top of the watch’s value). Oh, and some of these companies don’t allow you to ship a watch with a value over €500. So please consider that when you decide to sell the watch yourself rather than trading it in at a dealer.

how not to sell your watches Ebel

An offer on an Ebel on KleinAnzeigen

Blurry images won’t help your attempt to sell

Anyway, this article is not only to warn you about the work and costs of selling watches but also to show you how it should not be done. When offering your watch for sale, the most important things to do are writing incredibly accurate descriptions and taking decent pictures.

how not to sell your watches Breitling

A Breitling for sale on Chrono24. A blurry image won’t do you any favors!

Make it sharp!

A quick round on watch forums and platforms like Chrono24 demonstrates that some (mainly private) sellers are horrible at taking pictures. The only item they’re offering for sale is only shown in blurry, incomplete pictures… Sometimes, you can hardly identify the hands or the prints on the dial. In rare cases, the entire watch is blurry.

A proper image on KleinAnzeigen of a pre-owned Ebel

Show all details

As a buyer, you want to see the watch from several angles, including the front, back, sides, bracelet/strap, and buckle/clasp. If anything comes with the watch, such as a box and papers, please take an image of those or at least mention in the description what someone can expect to come with the watch and in which condition it is.

how not to sell your watches Rolex Datejust

This could be a very nice deal, but based on the image, we don’t know — Image: Chrono24

And, of course, make sure that everything is sharp. You don’t have to take pictures that deserve to be in a glossy print magazine, but they should clearly show the condition of the watch.

How another Breitling seller does it well — Image: Chrono24

Don’t forget about a complete description

Taking good pictures of a watch is not easy, but buyers are not looking for perfect compositions either. A sharp image can also be taken with a smartphone these days. Just make sure there’s enough (day)light when doing so.

Description from Catawiki on a 2005 Speedmaster Gemini IV edition

What I also sincerely dislike is reading incredibly short and incomplete descriptions. Catawiki is the undisputed king of leaving out relevant information or showing it incorrectly (reference numbers that don’t make sense, incorrect production years, incorrect dimensions, etc.). For the experienced watch enthusiast, it might not be that problematic to decipher what watch they’re looking at, but for the less experienced buyer, it can be deceiving.

Always make sure to show what comes with the deal

It can be quite a bit of work, but it’s fun and can be rewarding

If this is all too much work and effort or you don’t want to put up with all the hassle, trading in your watch is still an option. Just be sure that you can live with the fact that you will get significantly less money. It also might bring peace of mind, not worrying about insured shipping, customs forms, etc.

Selling watches can also be a fun part of this watch hobby, but to keep it fun for all parties, there’s some work required. I would say that everything starts with proper pictures of the watch you want to sell. You don’t need a professional camera to take them, and a smartphone will do, as long as the light conditions are sufficient. Just make sure that the images of the watch are sharp and that you show as much detail as you can from all angles.

My colleague Tomas Rosputinsky wrote an article on how to pack and ship a watch, which you can find here.