In the modern online retail ecosystem, enthusiasts have more ways to purchase watches than ever before, especially in the rapidly growing secondary market. However, with the dizzying variety of options available to consumers, it can also be difficult for buyers to know who to trust. Online commerce giant eBay has led the charge towards safer and more trustworthy online watch retail in recent years with its Authenticity Guarantee program (automatically sending all watches selling for $2,000 and up to expert appraisers to ensure authenticity), and for 2023 the company looks to add more tools for watchmakers looking to capture a slice of the burgeoning secondary watch market. The new eBay Certified by Brand retail program gives watch, luxury handbag, and jewelry brands the option to sell new, certified pre-owned, limited edition, and even eBay exclusive models directly to consumers with eBay’s robust buyer protections, providing a safer and more varied retail experience for both brands and enthusiasts.
The eBay Certified by Brand program gives participating companies a variety of tools to better reach consumers in both new watch retail and the resale market and allows these companies access to eBay’s immense system of consumer analytics and its substantial advertising outreach to both sell inventory and work to influence the secondary market price of their models. eBay Certified by Brand models are all sold with a minimum of at least one year of warranty protection for added peace of mind and are divided into two categories. eBay Certified by Brand listings badged as “Direct From Brand” are either new or pre-owned pieces, and either ship directly from the manufacturer or are previously authenticated by the brand itself. For those listings labeled as “Brand-Authorized Seller,” every available watch is either new or pre-owned inventory sold by an authorized dealer supplied by the brand itself. To start, the eBay Certified by Brand program is launching exclusively for brands and buyers in the United States, with 17 initial participating watch and jewelry brands. This initial brand list includes a varied selection of companies ranging from boutique ateliers to major industry players, including ADPT, Alberto Milani, ALOR, Badgley Mischka, Diana M., Dooney & Bourke, Ernst Benz, I.Reiss, Judith Ripka, Konstantin Chaykin, Le Vian, Lika Behar Collection, Perrelet, RPaige, Roman+Jules, Vianney Halter, and Zodiac.
Although this initial announcement is exciting, it’s important to consider what the real impact of the new program might be. Naturally, it’s too early to be certain, but this will likely change the online watch marketplace in two distinctly different ways. Firstly, there’s the new inventory side of the equation. This is a solid opportunity for midsize and smaller brands to build an effective new inventory e-commerce platform, with a massive amount of outreach and retailer name recognition baked in. Looking at the list of initial participants, most (but not all) of these companies have small or nonexistent in-house online sales capabilities, so this looks to be a natural foothold in a market increasingly dominated by online sales. The more interesting, unpredictable side of this program is the pre-owned sales segment, however. Many enthusiasts have heard stories of massive brands strongly influencing the secondary market prices of even vintage models through a variety of mechanisms ranging from high-profile auction purchases to tightly controlled first-party sales, and giving a wider range of companies the tools to affect their resale prices in the open market could dramatically shake up the current watch buying landscape. Will this spell the end for affordable, obscure watch purchases online? Almost certainly not, especially with an increasingly well-informed consumer base, but it does have the potential to gradually shift both brand cache and secondary sales performance for participating brands. These shifts won’t happen overnight, but savvy buyers and collectors should closely watch the resale market for brands like Zodiac and Konstantin Chaykin in the next few years.
All in all, the eBay Certified by Brand program has the potential to be a win-win for both brands and consumers, offering watchmakers greater reach and more options to sell, while affording buyers a more trustworthy purchasing experience. While the program is currently limited to a small group of companies selling in the U.S., eBay intends to expand the system dramatically with more participating brands and authorized sellers over the next year, and the company plans to expand to new markets outside the U.S. in the near future. To learn more about eBay and its Certified by Brand program, please visit the company’s website.