Buying and Selling Watches for Profit (Definitive Guide)

by Rebekah Pierce

Updated

Are you interested in buying and selling watches for profit?

Learning how to resell watches is a great way to capitalize on your hobby of collecting watches, and it can even become a highly profitable second job.

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There’s never been a better time to dive in. In fact, sales of brand new luxury watches are expected to drop by up to 35% this year, meaning the market is quickly shifting to second-hand watches, perfect for reselling.

Make sure you’re using the latest strategies to resell timepieces effectively.

Can You Resell Watches for Profit?

While buying or selling a used watch might sell daunting, you can resell watches to make a nice profit. You just need to know the ins and outs of the industry.

Don’t believe us? Just consider the case of Eric Wind.

A former watch specialist at a dealer named Christie’s, Wind was instrumental in pioneering this auction’s house online watch sales. Now, Wind is so successful that he works as an independent watch dealer.

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He’s amassed a major following on Instagram (and a small fortune) in reselling watches for profits.

He’s made thousands of dollars simply by following a few basic watch-selling tips like taking great photos, promoting your sales online, and crafting captivating listings.

Depending on what you’re trying to sell, you can reap some nice profits in reselling watches. A Rolex Milgauss Black Face could be purchased for around $5900 and resold for $8200, for example.

Your profits will vary depending on what types of watches you are buying and where you are trying to resell them.

However, if you’re cunning in your approach and calculated about where you choose to spend your time and money, there’s a potential for a serious payout. Watches are arguably one of the best items to resell online.

Current Watch Reselling Industry at a Glance

Although watch reselling has always been a pretty lucrative business, it has become even more profitable since the COVID-19 pandemic.

More people are buying watches online, helping support people who want to dive into the digital marketplace for pre-owned watches.

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Why is it booming?

The watch brands known as the “Big Four ” – Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, and Patek Philippe – have begun an effort to limit their production runs, making their timepieces rarer and as a result, more expensive.

Pre-owned watch sales are expected to grow to half the size of the market for new watches by 2025, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

This may not sound like much, but it’s a dramatic increase when you consider that right now, they only account for about a third.

Demand is vastly outpacing supply, with values for watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15500ST (blue dial) nearly tripling since 2017.

Social media is powering sales, as is increasing global wealth driven by recent booms from investments like real estate, cryptocurrency, and stocks.

Plus, there are so many new online watch collector sites – making it easy for you to find all the information you need about the used watch you want to buy.

What Watches Should You Flip?

There are a few types of watches that will be easier to flip than others (as well as those that are more profitable).

These are some of the top watch brands to resell:

  • Audemars Piguet
  • Patek Philippe
  • Chopard
  • Rolex
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre
  • Richard Mille
  • Casio
  • Junghans
  • Timex
  • Swatch

When it comes to features and models, the sky’s the limit. You can target any kind of watch sector you want as long as you understand your customers’ demands and current market prices (which change rapidly).

Therefore make sure you know how to check current market prices for watches (here’s how it’s done on eBay):

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You need to be able to buy watches and craft listings that will meet your customers’ tastes at a reasonable price.

This is the most reliable way to make a profit in your watch reselling business. In addition, flipping watches can be a flexible way to earn money, some students are even pursing watch reselling as a way to make money in college without a job.

Even though selling Apple Watches is not a recommended watch to resell, they can still bring great money.

Where Do You Buy Watches to Flip?

There are a few places you can turn to if you’re looking for watches to flip.

Visiting your local jeweler is the first step you should take, as he or she will have the information you need in order to tap into your local market.

However, there are some other places you can turn to, too, especially if you want to resell and flip watches online.

WatchRecon

This website serves as a search engine for private watch sales. You’ll find all kinds of brands represented here, including big names like Rolex, Zenith, and Helios.

However, you don’t have to be looking for luxury brands in order to benefit from this service either. It can be accessed as a website or an app.

eBay

It can be challenging to make a decent profit when buying and selling watches on eBay since eBay takes a large commission from each sale.

However, it tends to be the largest and most widespread platform out there – meaning you shouldn’t have trouble finding what you’re looking for.

Selling on Mercari is a great online marketplace to cross sell your watches to increase visibility as well.

Chrono24

This is another online marketplace for watches, and one that’s often hailed as the “world’s marketplace” for watches. You can find more than half a million luxury watches for sale here.

Other great online watch marketplaces to consider when you’re getting ready to buy or sell a watch include:

  • Crown & Caliber
  • The Watch Box
  • StockX
  • Jomashop
  • Bob’s Watches
  • Nordstrom
  • The RealReal
  • WatchUWant
  • World of Watches
  • Prestige Time
  • Watchfinder

Auction Houses

If you’re trying to buy a watch that is particularly rare or unique, you may have better luck finding it at an auction house. A

lthough eBay and ChronoTrader have plenty of lower-value watches for sale (generally, those under $1,000 are considered lower-value), you’ll find more out-of-the-box options at auction houses.

Forums

Last but not least, it helps to know someone – and you can meet all kinds of watch enthusiasts on forums like WatchUSeek, Omega Forums, or Rolex Forums.

Best Places to Resell Watches

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You can resell your watches at any of the places listed in the last section. However, these three places are some of the most common platforms to resell watches – and the most profitable.

Watch Dealers/Jewelers

Just as you can buy used watches from dealers and jewelers, you can also sell them there.

The benefit of selling watches to these sorts of businesses is that you’ll know upfront how much money you’re going to get for the watch.

They can see the watch in person, meaning there’s less likelihood of miscommunication.

The transaction is fast and easy with no shipping required. It’s a good choice if you need to get cash for your watches fast.

That said, you’re going to get the price that they give you – which can be limiting in some cases.

Chrono24

Chrono24 is considered the leading peer-to-peer marketplace for flipping luxury watches. You’ll be able to tap into a global network of other buyers and sellers – and this platform is home to one of the largest networks around.

You will need to create an ad that describes your watch in detail. You can only attach four photos, so take good ones!

The biggest downside to using Chrono24 to flip your watch is that you’ll have to pay an ad fee of 4.5% of the listing price.

You can get reimbursed for this if your watch doesn’t sell in six months, but it can still be quite a serious chunk of change.

eBay

The largest online selling platform, eBay will allow you to buy and sell watches directly to consumers.

You’ll be able to come up with your own pricing and your own listing – but you will have to deal with customer disputes on your own. eBay also charges some hefty fees for sellers, too.

Flipping watches is a popular item to make money on eBay.

5 Common Mistakes When Flipping Watches

There are a few mistakes you’ll want to steer clear of when you begin flipping watches. Here’s an overview.

1. Starting Without Capital

While you may be able to start selling cheap watches with limited start-up capital, you will likely find that it’s far easier when you have some funds built up.

The more expensive watches tend to return the biggest profit – as do those with perceived rarity. In order to access those top-dollar watches, you need to have some money saved up.

2. Going at it Alone

Try not to get too greedy! While you can make a significant amount of money as a solo watch reseller, you’ll have the best results if you combine forces with your local jeweler.

Demonstrate to your jeweler that you are a reliable buyer and work hard to build rapport.

That way, as soon as they get that rare Rolex Milgauss White you’ve been looking for, you’ll be the first to know.

3. Forgetting About Taxes

Don’t get caught with your pants down at tax time – you still need to pay your fair share when you’re buying and reselling watches.

There are ways you can save on taxes – such as having your watches shipped to your second home in another state where the jeweler you’re working with does not have a presence.

As long as you visit that second home several times a year, this is a totally legit way to save up to 10% on your taxes.

4. Not Keeping Records

Although a watch isn’t necessary like a car, which needs to have a title for a legit bill of sale, the value of your watch will be greatly affected by the quality of the records you keep.

Keep everything, including receipts, boxes, service history, etc. This will help verify the condition and authenticity of the watch to let buyers know that they’re getting a fair price for their purchase.

5. Ignoring the Photos and the Listing

Don’t rely on the name of the watch alone to sell your product for you. The price you’re able to get for your watch will be greatly influenced by the photos that you take.

They’ll indicate condition – so if you cut corners and take photos in poor lighting, even a great watch isn’t going to sell for as much as it possibly could.

When you create a listing, even on a platform like eBay, the words you use to describe the watch should be top-notch and popular keywords so more people see it.

If you can, present information in a clear, concise, bullet-point method. This can be more effective than long chunks of information.

Include details such as:

  • Where the watch was purchased and when
  • How many times it has been worn
  • Whether it’s been serviced
  • How it’s running
  • Whether everything is original or pieces have been replaced

Success Tactics

  • Don’t be afraid to promote your listing and your watch selling enterprise either. Post photos of the watches you’re trying to sell on Instagram or other platforms Social media can play a huge role in the used and vintage watch market, so take advantage of it.
  • Leveraging social media is also a great way to educate customers about the benefits and features of your watches and to build community. This can open the door to additional future sales.

How to Ship Watches

Buying and selling your watches is only half the battle – you also need to get them to your customers in one piece.

Always try to sell your watch in its original box. This adds to its value and shows your customers that the watch has been well-cared for.

If you plan on shipping your watch without the original box, use extra bubble wrap and seal that bubble wrap with tape so it can’t come off.

Then, put that inside a small cardboard box. Put the small box inside a larger box, also padded with bubble wrap, then seal the entire thing with heavy-duty packing tape.

Watches can be shipped via USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Choose the service that best matches your shipping timeline and budget.

Success Tactics

  • USPS tends to be the best carrier for lower-end watch shipments (less than $5,000 in value) since you can ship your watch in a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box for less than $8.
  • UPS is better for luxury watches since USPS only allows you to declare a maximum value of $5,000 for insurance. You can get a maximum value of $50,000 with UPS.

Wrapping Up

Are you ready to start buying and selling watches for profit? The time has never been better – so get started today!

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About the Author

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Rebekah is a writer who covers all things education, business, agriculture, and finance. She owns a small farm business in upstate New York. Her educational credentials include a bachelor's degree in English from St. Lawrence University and a master's in special education from SUNY Plattsburgh.