The conventional wisdom is that retailers want to sell you things, not buy your things. It is a bit strange from a consumer perspective to to be "sold" on the idea of "selling" your goods, but that is exactly what is happening in a big way when it comes to luxury watches. An article of mine just got published on Forbes.com that discusses how and why companies are looking to buy your watch, and why this is perhaps the most booming area in the watch world today.
I don't want to re-write the entire article again here on aBlogtoWatch, but I recommend you check it out if you have any interest in buying watches, selling watches, and the pre-owned watch market overall. I interviewed some key players in the industry who are among those who are heavily investing in getting you to sell them your watch. I also explain why this is a growing area right now, and also try to dispel what I learned are a lot of misconceptions about the pre-owned watch industry.
For the most part, the pre-owned watch industry gets shrouded with a veil of semi-legitimacy by the larger watch industry. There are some good and bad reasons for that. Basically, anything outside of the normal "authorized dealer" channels are vilified. Sadly, that is an over-inclusive mentality that causes a lot of legitimate and quality ways of buying a pre-owned watch to be shunned by consumers. What I did was talk to people who have a good reputation as sellers of pre-owned and vintage watches, who also engage in the practice of wanting to buy your watch.
What I think you'll find the most interesting is that some of these business are almost entirely focused on buying watches versus selling them. They even go so far as to change the design of their website to emphasize "buying, trading, or consigning" your watch. Areas where you can purchase their inventory of watches are either hard to find or almost entirely missing. One of the reasons I researched this story is to find out why.
It turns out that the pre-owned watch market is rather healthy. In fact, it is so healthy that the biggest problem these businesses are facing is inventory. They have large lists of customers and use channels such as Chrono24 and eBay to sell watches without an issue. The reason they want to buy watches is that they seem to never have enough quality inventory to sell.
Another interesting fact is their real relationship with the new watch market from authorized dealers. Many pre-owned watch retailers want people to buy new, and to buy new often. Why? Because a new watch purchased from an authorized dealer with all the papers and properly filled out warranty card makes for the best pre-owned watch. So the more new watches people buy, the more pre-owned inventory will be eventually available. In fact, some retailers deal in both, and rely on people coming in with their pre-owned watches wanting to trade-in to buy something new.
I've never personally been one to sell or trade watches with much frequency, but I know people who do it all the time. It can be tricky and takes a lot of time and knowledge to do it properly. In fact, where a lot of these companies come in with value is their ability to make the process easier and more productive for a lot of the consumers out there.
In many ways the internet is still the Wild West when it comes to buying and selling luxury watches, but there are major players and their main currency is reputation. Some of the most knowledgeable and downright intelligent people I've met in the watch world are part of the pre-owned world, so it is worth being aware of the key players and what motivates them. As a consumer it is also important to know what services are available so that when you are looking to buy, sell, or trade a watch, you can make the most educated decision possible.