The Watch Collector Series: Buying and Selling Your Rolex

As watch collectors, there are no shortage of options available to you when it comes to choosing places to both buy and sell your Rolex.

From a brand’s official boutique store to classified ads in a newspaper, each has its good and bad points.

Obviously, the internet provides the widest range of options. However, taking yourself offline as well can yield great results.

If you are a little in the dark about exactly which is the best route for you, we’ve put together a list below outlining the pros and cons of each. Read on to find the perfect fit.

Authorized Dealers and Boutique Stores

Rolex has a growing number of its own boutique stores. These are usually located in the swankiest parts of major cities. New York has one on 5thAvenue. In London, it’s in the middle of Bond Street.

Also, they handpick established retailers to become Authorized Dealers (ADs) and supply them with their latest watches directly.

Neither the boutiques nor the ADs tend to carry much in the way of vintage or pre-owned stock. They are, after all, in the business of selling brand new products.

So, while you won’t be selling your Rolex to either establishment, are they the best place to buy a box fresh, never-before-worn piece?

Rolex Boutique 5th Avenue NY
Credit: Wempe

Well, yes and no.

The Advantages

As an experience, there is very little to compete with walking into one of these places to buy that watch you’ve been coveting for so long. You can pretty much guarantee that you will be treated very well. You’ll also be talking with some appropriately knowledgeable people. Rolex is extremely picky over who they allow to sell their watches for them. And, the ADs in particular have to abide by some fairly draconian rules.

They are also, by far, the safest places to buy from. Rolex holds the dubious distinction of being the most counterfeited watch brand on earth. Therefore, their official channels offer the most security when it comes to ensuring peace of mind that what you are walking out with is the genuine article.

Plus, it is only the boutiques and ADs that can issue Rolex’s industry-leading 5-year warranty. These warranties, of course, are honored at any certified dealer anywhere in the world.

The Costs

All this goodness does come at a cost. However, the cost in this case is…the cost.

You might fancy yourself an expert negotiator. But the chances of you securing any kind of markdown on the price of a brand new watch at even an Authorized Dealer are pretty much zero. With Rolex’s global reputation, they have no need to offer discounts, so they don’t. Simple as that.

If you are happy paying full price, visiting an official retailer is not only a lot of fun, it is also a great way to establish a relationship with the staff there. The best customers often find themselves bumped up a few places on waiting lists for the hottest new models.

Auctions

There have been a number of very high profile sales at traditional auction houses in the last few months. Most notably, Paul Newman’s Daytona when it crushed the record for the most expensive watch ever sold when it went for $17.7m last October.

With all the headlines you could be forgiven for thinking it is only the highest of the high end that go under the hammer. But in fact, those crazy money pieces make up just a tiny percentage of the lots that auctioneers sell.

Buy and Sell Your Rolex at Watch Auctions
Credit: Getty Images

Selling Your Rolex

Most of the revenue the houses make comes from the sort of pre-owned and vintage models that are more within reach of the rest of us.

That being said, selling your watch at auction tends to be a time-consuming affair. In addition, with the expenses you are required to pay out in various fees, the amount your piece goes for will be a lot higher than the money you actually receive.

Buying Your Rolex

As for buying, it too has good and bad points. The major auction houses have a number of experts on hand to verify the authenticity of everything that comes through the door. These experts can offer a definite reassurance on what you are bidding on. Similarly, they are bound by their General Conditions of Business which acts as a guarantee if anything should be found to be amiss after the fact.

However, it is not a good place to be if you have trouble keeping your emotions in check!

It’s very easy to get caught up in a bidding war in all the excitement and go well over your budget. Plus, it’s just as easy to forget the extra 10-20% buyers fee you have to pay to the auctioneer on top of your winning bid.

eBay

A different type of auction and one that needs no introduction for sellers is eBay. eBay is the fastest way to get your watch in front of the largest number of people. With their search options, somebody looking for the type of watch you are offering is going to find it without too much trouble.

Unfortunately, the unrestrictive nature of the platform means anybody can sell anything, and the horror stories of scams and swindles are legion. That means buyers are becoming extremely wary of doing business with anyone who doesn’t have a high rating, something you can only get by selling a lot of things and getting excellent reviews. Even with a good rating, it is hard for people to part with the sort of money a Rolex usually commands to someone they have never met or spoken to.

Buy and Sell Your Rolex on eBay

The best you can do is to be as transparent as possible. Include as many images of your watch as you can, particularly any serial numbers on the case, and be ready to answer all the questions that are likely to come your way quickly and thoroughly.

If you are new to the world of Rolex, the best option, by far, is to avoid the private sellers and deal with the professional companies that use the site as an additional outlet. BeckerTime is currently the largest provider of pre owned Rolex to eBay.

Online Dealer

The pre owned watch business is vast. As such, there are a huge number of independent online retailers out there through which you can both buy and sell your Rolex. Many, of course, specialize in Rolex themselves.

Choosing which one to do business with is another time when you simply cannot overdo the research. Like all things, some of these dealers are totally upfront and honest, while others are far less so.

The good news is that it is becoming much easier to tell them apart. With the industry reaching a certain level of maturity now, there are several suppliers that have been around for a good many years. This is always a positive indicator of their trustworthiness and integrity. The internet grapevine can be a particularly unforgiving vehicle and the dishonest businesses usually find themselves called out in a hurry.

Buy and Sell Your Rolex With an Online Dealer

Choosing An Online Dealer

The first port of call when trying to find your own best option should be one of the many forums that discuss all things Rolex. You can be reasonably assured that at least some of the dealers on your shortlist of possible targets will have been tried and tested by members. Ask questions about their experiences and which they would recommend.

After that, there are numerous telltale signs you can look out for on the business’s websites themselves.

Check to see if they publish a phone number and email address. You are probably going to want to chat to someone there before you pull the trigger. Typically, speaking to a real live person is always reassuring. Plus, the top vendors like nothing more than talking about their business.

Find out what kind of warranty is being offered, and make sure there is some sort of authenticity guarantee on pre-owned pieces, with a money-back agreement if needed.

If you are selling, an online dealer can be an attractive option. It can be a bit nerve-wracking to pack up your watch and send it off into the great blue yonder. However,  you have the benefit of getting your quote upfront and payment is usually extremely quick.

And for added peace of mind, look for accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. This non-profit organization determines the credibility of businesses and ranks them for easy identification.

It’s an old saying, but one that pertains to this industry more than many—you are buying the seller as well as the watch.

Forums

As well as being a valuable source of information, online forums can also be a great place to trade. You will be dealing with fair-minded, honest Rolex fans who are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the brand.

Or at least, that’s the idea.

While that describes the majority, there is no way for these forums to regulate everyone who signs up, so there is always the potential for the less than honest to slip through and relieve the unwary of their watch or hard earned money.

Stick to Common Sense

The forum administrators have no control over the authenticity or the quality of the pieces being advertised for sale, whether the descriptions are accurate or even verify the identity of the seller or buyer. So, again, it is entirely up to you to engage in a little due diligence in order to protect yourself.

Find where to Buy and Sell your Rolex on Forums

It may all sound like the Wild West, but a little common sense is usually enough to stay safe.

Plan To Be A Member

It pays to be a member of the forum for some time before you start to use it as a trading post. Engaging in conversations and contributing to the many varied threads allows you to not only build up a relationship with others, but it identifies you as one of the good guys when the time comes to sell any of your watches. You will be seen as someone people would be happy to do business with.

It will also make it easier to recognize the more suspicious elements who may pop up out of nowhere with a too good to be true bargain.

With fewer overheads than even online dealers, forums can be the place to get a great price on the watch of your dreams, but they are also where you need to err very much on the side of caution.

There are plenty of options open to you if you’re in the market to buy and sell your Rolex.  Some, such as the boutiques and Authorized Dealers, are pretty much 100% safe, but tend to be the most expensive. Private sales on forums and eBay can yield a bargain, but the trade off is the possibility of coming a-cropper amongst the n’er-do-wells.

The best of both worlds is still the online retailers. The top places offer some of the highest levels of expertise, with ironclad guarantees and a range of beautiful watches that could well stay with you for a lifetime.