*This post was edited on Feb 24, 2018, to include the Australian Buy Swap Sell Facebook page and VRF.
I’m sure it’s a lovely feeling walking into a boutique and paying RRP for a brand new watch, but let’s be honest, it’s just not on the cards for every watch enthusiast out there. When I suggest various watch forums to interested buyers, I am often met with a negative and close-minded attitude, not just because the watch isn’t new but because it’s supposedly risky.
Let’s face it, buying products on the internet is risky, it’s always going to be because there are always going to be people in the world that want to rip you off. Unlike eBay however, where the scammers flourish, the watch forums are hives of incredibly passionate people discussing and trading the things they love and collect. I guess it’s no different to any forum on any topic, people who are passionate about one thing will always find others to discuss it with, the thing about the watch forums that baffles me is the level of trust, it restores my faith in the morality of the world.
Right now as I write this, there’s around half a million dollars worth of watches on the first page of the Rolex Forums trade section, and there are people happily wire transferring money across the world to buy them from one another, not Paypal, bank transfer. I’m currently looking at a Patek Philippe Nautilus Annual Calendar, and Moonphase which is available for $35,500 and someone is going to buy it and send ‘Giulio’ that amount of money to his bank account – it’s quite astonishing.
I had an interesting chat with an Australian watch retailer recently about Australians (specifically) buying watches here, and he told me that they are always looking for a better price, trying to get the absolute cheapest possible deal, not the Asian market, just the Australian market. While I can’t explain that anomaly, I can certainly add this quick thought – if Australians are always seeking the best deals and lowest prices why aren’t more people willing to shop on the watch forums? The difference between what you can buy new and what you can get on the forums is immense. $3-5k will buy you a pretty good new watch, but it can buy you a cracking watch if you are prepared to wait and hunt for it on the forums. The second-hand argument is moronic, “I don’t want to buy a watch worn by someone else”, it’s not a mattress, it’s made of metal. Even if you avoid the second-hand market for the warranty reason, many reputable dealers trade within these forums and offer mechanical warranties on their products anyway.
The members on these watch forums (99% of) are just dedicated enthusiasts selling authentic products; they flip watches across the world like as nonchalantly as they comment on Facebook. As I’ve said before it’s more of an obsession than anything else. It’s highly likely the person receiving the money will be more suspicious of you, the newcomer because you have minimal activity in the community. You can view a seller’s profile instantly and see references, sale numbers, trusted seller info and community engagement making it easy to spot anyone suspicious entering the market offering an outrageous watch from an account created yesterday. The community helps each other out to avoid people scamming others; there is a constant source of warnings and indications of suspicious people. If I’m coming across a little ignorant I apologise, I’m not saying something bad will never happen within these forums because it probably does, just like eBay or like in any business. What I’m saying is that if you really want bang for your buck, hit the forums because you will be so impressed with what your money can get you. If you aren’t interested in the risk that’s fine, some people would prefer to hand their cash over in person. If you are, however, a budding enthusiast or a collector, the forums present a great chance to pick up watches that are so close to new it’s inconsequential, for a fraction of the RRP.
Here are a few you can visit and get involved with, you might even find yourself becoming an active community member! Be careful you can lose days of your life.
Despite the name, it caters for every brand, not just Rolex. In saying that it is one of the most concentrated hives of Rolex enthusiasts in the world. This trade section deals with serious watches, as described above. There is, however, a massive price range, I saw a 90’s Omega Speedmaster Pro in immaculate condition yesterday for $1300. Finally, if you’re looking for a Rolex, this is the place to do it.
In this case, the name explains exactly what you’ll find. Vintage Rolex watches and a plethora of parts including speciality dials, bezels, case and almost anything Rolex related you can think of. If you know the serial number of the watch you’re looking for, VRF is a worth monitoring, however, I think it’s worth noting that VRF is more suited to buyers with an intimate knowledge of vintage Rolex.
As well as being an excellent information source as well as a registered dealer for a number of more obscure brands, Watchuseek has a very interesting trade area that caters to a slightly more eclectic selection of modern and vintage timepieces.
Probably my pick of the bunch, not for trust reasons but because it’s more affordable! Timezone’s central sales area is for watches under $5000, and when you see the list you’ll realise what I’m talking about above, there are so many beautiful watches you can buy.
Created in 2017, the Australian Watch Buy, Swap and Sell group is a great spot to trade with over 6000 watch enthusiasts. I’ve sold and purchased multiple times and haven’t had a single negative experience. The administration team are very active and ensure the page remains free of spam and suspicious members. Occasionally watches with very ambitious prices and equally optimistic descriptions are posted but the core crowd are quick to react!