How to Sell Watches

by Rob Wagner; Updated September 26, 2017
Man repairing wristwatches

Selling pocket and wrist watches is an easy way to earn extra income. For the savvy seller, selling watches can turn into a full-time occupation. Thousands of vintage, pre-owned, New Old Stock (NOS) and new watches are sold online daily. Many retailers, wholesalers and distributors sell watches as a discount to move inventory and make way for new models. Online auctions provide the quickest way to buy and sell watches with little knowledge or expertise of the product.

Step 1

Research the horology field by visiting the numerous online watch enthusiasts forums and websites, other seller’s websites, watchmaker history websites, online auction houses and technical websites. Determine which niche of watches you want to sell: vintage, pre-owned or new watches, suggests to The Watch Guy, a website that specializes in vintage watch information.

Step 2

Research the market. Like any business, the watchmaking field fluctuates with the global economy. Demand for new luxury watches, for example, may slacken during a recession, but sales of NOS luxury watches, which are overstocked unsold new watches, and pre-owned timepieces increase during economic downturns.

Step 3

Join auction websites and bid to make purchases. Most online auctioneers sell vintage and pre-owned watches, so remember that you are purchasing someone’s discards. Prices vary, but the condition of the watch is most important. There's a smaller percentage of new watches auctioned.

Step 4

Examine online auction websites. Copy and enlarge the watch photos. Determine whether the watchmaker’s dial signature matches the name on the case back and the movement, which is the mechanical or electronic device that operates the watch. The absence of three signatures on a luxury watch manufactured from about the 1950s to present may indicate that it's assembled from other brands.

Step 5

Determine whether the watch you are buying is a fake. Fakes are the biggest threat to buying and selling watches. Determine a fake by recognizing which movements go with each watch. An unsigned Japanese movement in a Swiss watch is the obvious sign of a fake. Poorly embossed logos on the dial, chronometer bezels that don’t rotate, mismatched case backs and sloppily etched serial numbers are sure signs of a counterfeit.

Step 6

Establish a relationship with wholesalers and distributors to buy NOS and older timepieces. These sellers don’t like keeping last year’s models on their shelves.

Step 7

Find a watchmaker who repairs and services watches. Securing the services of a watchmaker is perhaps the most important aspect of selling watches. All vintage, pre-owned, NOS and even new watches should be inspected and serviced before being sold to the public.

Step 8

Hire a professional web designer to create a website to advertise your watch-selling business. Establish a refund policy and limited warranty to build trust with your customers.


  • Routinely visit flea markets and watch trade shows to personally inspect your products.


  • Watch enthusiasts are a close-knit community. If word gets around you sell fakes, it will ruin you reputation.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

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