A Definitive Guide to Buying Luxury Watches Online

Jurica Krajacic
Jurica Krajacic

In a world of uncertainty with a growing online presence, many have started buying luxury watches online. Once prestigious and personal endeavor, luxury watch buying is becoming more online focused. Maybe because of younger buyers, quicker transactions or comparison sites offering bigger ranges. 

Of course, here at Watch Signals, we are part of this online movement. Our goal is to bring a stress-free online watch buying experience to a global community. Meaning, the questions to ask would be; on a global scale, is it safe for the luxury watch market to move online? And, how can we enter the luxury online buying experience? 

We’ve gathered some modern horology information as well as some pros and cons of buying online. It will be the full and comprehensive guide to buying luxury watches online.

1. Things to consider before buying a watch online

It’s always good to enter the luxury watch buying ring with an idea of the type of watch you’re looking for. Whether it’s a certain brand, particular complications or a specific antique. 

This is because there’s two types of people. Those buying watches to tell the time. And, those buying watches as a statement of personality (and often wealth). This guide is for the latter. Buying luxury watches online can be tedious and time-consuming, much like face-to-face retail. There are auctions, sales, international shipping insurance and more to think about. 


2. Find A Watch Buying Guide to Help you Decide

On this occasion, we’re providing you with a guide to buying luxury watches online, not to tell you which watch to buy. In case you need to familiarize yourself with each brand, have a look at our brand buying guides. Here’s a couple to get you started:

A Complete Guide to buying your first Tudor watch

The Ultimate Guide to Buying your First Hublot Watch

A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Your First IWC Watch

A beginner’s guide to buying your first Seiko watch

A Definitive Guide to Buying your First Panerai Watch

A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Your First Audemars Piguet

Your Ultimate Guide to Buying Your First Tag Heuer

The Beginner Guide To Buying Your First Breitling Watch

The Ultimate Guide to buying first Cartier Watch

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Your First Omega

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying your First Patek Philippe

Now you know which watch brand – and, preferably which watch – to buy, it’s time to hit the modern day 2020 marketplace. 

3. What are the Advantages to Buying Luxury Watches Online?

The biggest advantage to buying luxury watches online, is being able to research, buy and receive your watch. And, you’ll never need to leave the comfort of your own home. 

For example; a prestigious collector of the Patek Philippe may not be close any of their three stores. So, having a website and avenues of sale can come in handy. Especially with busy schedules of bankers, celebrities and businessmen of the world. 

Here’s a list of other advantages you can expect when buying luxury watches online:

  • Fast courier service options
  • Take your time to choose your timepiece
  • There’s a larger choice of luxury watches to hand
  • Online watches tend to have lower prices
  • There are price comparison sites
  • You’ll have more access to exclusive auctions
  • Some watches are online exclusive
  • It can be easier to register your watch and become part of the brand’s club

4. The Online Watch Market VS the Face-to-Face Experience

While we provide tips for buying luxury watches online, it’s our duty to give to a side-by-side comparison.

The main concern for any individual purchasing a high-end timepiece is authenticity. With trusted online sellers and original brand websites comes third-party sites. Often, they take advantage of the separation between buyer and seller. 

For example, buying a Rolex through a third-party site (Rolex doesn’t have an e-commerce store) there’s no guarantee. Meaning, you may not receive important documents, unworn horology or the correct item.

Or, if you buy through another third-party website, the seller may send a fake luxury watch.

With this in mind, it’s important to trust sellers and websites you visit if you take advice to buy watches online. Here’s some other comparisons between the online market and the in-store experience:

  • There’s an increased level of safety
  • You’re assured of authenticity
  • You don’t have to contend with shipping costs
  • There’s first-class service and experiences to be had with champagne
  • Store associates can throw in extra benefits
  • Rare returns can occur more easily

5. Using the Brands’ Online E-Commerce Store

Not every brand has entered the world of e-commerce. Take Rolex, for example. Their community of high-end client’s head to the Rolex stores for first-class experiences. 

Yet, there are some beginning to open doors (hypothetically) to online markets. Which is especially valuable in a 2020 economy with growing communities buying online. 

Direct buying through a brand’s e-commerce store provides a guarantee of a watch’s authenticity. Meaning you have the ability to fully trust the source of sale. Not only this, but the home of the brand allows accessories and extended warranties to be in the same online basket.

Here’s a small list of watch brands that do allow for the buying of luxury watches through their websites:

6. Use a Price Comparison Website and Authorized Sellers

While this is our forte, we wanted to be able to provide you with an unbiased guide to buying luxury watches online. This is why we’ll tell you the good, the bad and the luxury for the watch community on comparison sites.

That said, a price comparison site has its perks. They will have an affiliation with authorized dealers and partnerships with third-party retailers. Instead of finalizing a sale at the price you see, a comparison site finds the cheapest price for the same watch. 

Authorized dealers and third-party retailers have their own sales, discounts and benefits. This might be down to local trends and fluctuations in demand. But these price differences are most likely because of the competition of sale.

So, if you’re moving luxury watch buying to the online marketplace, make sure you do you research. Use a watch buying guide and head straight to a watch price comparison site like Watch Signals

However, note that some comparison sites don’t offer guarantee on dealership authority. Meaning some may point you towards unlawful sellers of fakes over recognized sellers.

7. Accessing the Grey Market

The grey market has its pros and cons. But, if you’re in the serious luxury watch collecting business, you’ll want to avoid them. 

There are many unsuspecting sellers on the grey market. For example; Amazon, The Watch Shop, and (ironically) Authentic Watches. Each of these sellers will get mid-range watches to sell at a reduced rate. They’ll be able to do this as there won’t be any guarantee, warranty, servicing options and so on. They can also refuse communication after the sale. Meaning if your watch breaks during transit, you could be stuck or face unofficial parts. 

While prices are the attraction to grey market sellers, try looking at price comparison sites, first. This way, you can find similar prices for your watch through authorized dealers.

Check out Luxury Watch Dealer Directory to find trusted pre-owned watch dealers around you.

8. Finding Auction with Online eBay Sellers

A final addition to luxury watch buying after the increased popularity of online buying is online auctions. There are private auctions by individuals or high-end auctions for the rich. Platform examples include eBay and BillionaireXchange, respectively.

The internet has shrunk the world for those looking for specific and rare timepieces. No longer does a buyer need to be present at an auction or be on the phone. They become a bidder when they log in at home. 

Not only this, but the price will demand on the number of buyers and what they value the piece to be. So, you may find yourself paying above-market or below-market for the same timepiece.

If you’re on the market for rare pieces, Watch Signals recommend trying trusted auction sites. It’s always best to keep your eyes open!

In lieu of a conclusion to this comprehensive guide to buying luxury watches online, we’ll answer a common question. Will the staple brick and mortar stores will die out? No. But, having a significant online presence could reduce stores numbers. Which would lead to an exclusive and elusive atmosphere for the remaining stores. 

This is why it’s important you know what to expect from buying luxury watches online!

Read more:

7 Most Expensive Patek Philippe Watches

Watch Insurance 101: Getting your watch insured

Watches for Investment Bankers: Spotted on Wall Street

A Guide to Storing Watches at Home Safely

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