Some of us are in the habit of buying time. And by that we mean, of course, luxury watches. Who doesn’t love a shiny gold Rolex?

With a limited budget, though, we can’t all be Jay-Z and Kanye. That’s why many have turned to the pre-owned luxury watch market. As the Straits Times reports, Singapore is no exception, with “scores of pawnshops” and “more than 20 outfits selling such watches”.

Still, as with all pre-owned items, there are always risks to be had. Especially when it comes to dealing online, a trend that has grown exponentially in recent years. You may be a veteran at the brick-and-mortar watch shops, but the online market is a whole different ball game.

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the 4 things you need to know before buying (and selling) watches online. If you’re new to the online trade, this one’s for you!

1. Don’t limit yourself

Going online means access to an international market of luxury watches, which is one of the greatest draws of the Internet. You might have a specific watch model in mind when you first start out, but don’t let that stop you from exploring other options!

On international watch marketplace Chrono24, for instance, there are more than 400 brands and over 100 categories available. Whether you’re looking for vintage pieces or newer models, you’re sure to have a wide variety to choose from.

Even if you may not be looking to buy a watch at the moment, we personally like to use these sites for window shopping – to get inspiration and more information about watches that catch our eye.

There’s also the handy option of adding watches to your own personal Watch Collection, so you can keep tabs on your wishlist and their value over time. New estimated prices are calculated for every watch on a daily basis to show you past, present, and future price trends.

Your Chrono24 Watch Collection is not only limited to watches you own, but can also include those that you’d like to buy.
Adding watches to your Chrono24 Watch Collection helps you to automatically keep track of their price trends.

Now, you should never buy a watch solely for investment purposes, but this tool does help you learn more about when to buy and sell your watches. It’s especially useful for tracking watches you don’t currently own, but are interested in getting.

2. Do your homework

This one is a bit of a no-brainer, especially if you’re already a watch aficionado, but we’re including it anyway. The online watch market can be as scary as it is exciting, most of all because you often don’t have the chance to view the watches in person before buying them.

It’s important to research all you can about your dream watch(es) before even thinking about a purchase. Make sure you study every little detail about them, compare prices, read up on authenticity tests you can conduct through photos.

Check, double check, and check again for dents and scratches. Never be afraid to ask for more photos. You’re paying thousands of dollars, after all!

If you’re dealing with a seller who’s stationed in Singapore, you should definitely arrange a meet-up to check out the watch personally. Even if everything is in order, you might find that the watch isn’t quite your style, or that the face looks too small on your wrist.

Even with overseas dealers, there may be workarounds. Chrono24’s Virtual Showroom, for instance, lets you see from your phone how certain watches will look on your wrist. This nifty AR tool lets you take photos and even move your phone to view the watch from different angles.

Chrono24’s Virtual Showroom, which allows you to ‘try on’ a watch through your phone. (Credit: @bharmon417 on Instagram)

Apart from this, you can also ask the seller for photos of the watch being worn and wrist measurements for comparison.

3. Buy the seller

On top of knowing what you’re buying, the seller should always be a key factor in your purchase. A common saying amongst pre-owned luxury watch buyers, “buying the seller” simply asks you to have common sense.

Look for reviews, detailed descriptions, a history of positive deals, and reasonable, well-informed answers to your queries. If a seller makes claims such as “recently serviced”, make sure they have the photos and receipts to back them up.

At the crux of it, if you’re feeling uncertain about a seller for any reason (even just pure instinct), it’s best to stay away. Unscrupulous sellers may substitute watch parts with wrong, old, or fake parts, or even worse, send you a watch that is completely different from the one you bought.

One way to avoid such horror stories is, of course, to deal in person. If that isn’t possible, you can opt for a commercial dealer rather than a private seller.

According to Chrono24, “Commercial watch dealers are obliged to offer a seller’s warranty.” While these dealers may charge slightly higher prices, it may be worth it to ensure you’re getting the real deal.

Chrono24 also uses a Trusted Seller programme for select commercial dealers. Look out for this Trusted Seller Seal when you’re on the site, as it guarantees authenticity, reliability, and timeliness.

Chrono24’s Trusted Seller Seal for commercial dealers who have passed verification, the probationary period, and a signed agreement.

4. Check for protection

Seller aside, there are many platforms on which you can buy your watches. Several dealers may even advertise their wares on multiple websites, so you should always look at what the website itself offers.

Chrono24’s Buyer Protection: Look for policies that protect you as a buyer and/or seller.

In addition to Chrono24’s Trusted Seller verification, they also conduct their transactions through a protected Escrow Service. Whether you buy from a verified dealer or private seller, you can deal via a secure escrow account under Chrono24’s Buyer Protection.

For those looking to sell watches as well, you’ll be happy to hear that this Escrow Service works out for both sides. The seller will only ship the watch once the money has arrived in the account, and the money will only be released once the buyer has received the watch with no issues reported.

The free Trusted Checkout service also means that orders are shipped fully insured, with tracking numbers, so both buyer and seller can be at ease.

And there you have it – your crash course on the online watch market! Though it might seem scary, just keep this list in mind, make sure you know your stuff, and you might just get some seriously good deals on these amazing watches.

We all know time isn’t cheap, but if you know where and how to look, it could very well be.