Jordan K. from Illinois, USA asks:
Is there a reason on sales forums and on eBay watch sellers will block out the serial numbers of the watches there are selling? Wouldn't that information only help to validate the authenticity of the watches they are selling?
There are a few reasons that sellers will block out serial numbers on timepieces available for sale online. One simple reason for this is that the people who make fake watches are looking for serial numbers that they can use on replica watches they are making. If they have a real serial number then when people try to check it with the brand it may turn up as being real even though the serial number was taken from a real watch and later placed on a fake one.
Another reason sellers do this is to protect certain watch distributors or authorized dealers. Most watches sold online at a discount are not done so with the blessings of the brands. Many watches sold online aren't offered by a private owner, but rather a gray market dealer. These dealers mostly get their watches directly from authorized dealers or distributors. Often because they can't sell normally.
When brands sell their watches, they often keep careful records about what serial numbers are going where. If a brand sees a watch being sold online at a discount and they can determine what the serial number is, then the dealer they originally sold it to can get in trouble because they are likely breaching a contractual duty not to "off load" the watches into the gray market.
So in a nutshell, this practice of blurring out serial numbers is there to protect dealers who sell watches to discounters, and to protect against the numbers being used in fake watches.
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