Should You Sell, Trade Or Consign Your Watch? An Expert Guide

Words by Jody Hume | 1.28.19
A fine watch is an investment that you carry with you everywhere, and therefore it’s inherently personal and prized. But watch collectors and casual wearers alike can agree that sometimes you fall out of love with your timepiece. Sometimes you want to trade your Cartier for a Panerai, or maybe you just want to sell it and recoup some of the initial cost. Perhaps you’re looking to upgrade your Rolex to a model that fits your personality better. And who could blame you? The horological world is vast, exciting and teeming with possibilities.
When it comes to reselling your watch, we understand that the process may seem a little daunting. That’s why we have certified horologists at our Luxury Consignment Offices who can help. We offer three ways to sell your watch — selling it, trading it in and consigning it — with unique benefits for each. But now the million dollar question: which method is right for you? Our Lead Fine Jewelry & Watch Valuation Manager Kelsey Hickox explains the benefits of each program, how to keep your timepieces in top resale condition and the models to sell, trade and consign now.
RealStyle | Sell Trade Consign Watches
Tell us a little bit about the newest offer — selling your watch outright. Why should a consignor sell their fine watch?
The biggest perk of selling your watch directly is the ability to get paid without having to wait for it to sell on our site. This program currently applies to the most in-demand watches — Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Cartier, IWC, Panerai, Patek Philippe and Rolex. Because of their expert craftsmanship and high prices in the retail sphere, these brands tend to carry strong appeal for shoppers of the secondary market.
After our team of experienced horologists gives it a careful inspection and accepts it, you get paid 65% of the list price within the next week or two. It’s a great option for those no-nonsense aficionados who are ready to let go and move on.
RealStyle | Sell Trade Consign Watches

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Off Shore Watch; Cartier Calibre de Cartier; Rolex Date Watch

Which models should consignors sell outright?
Demand for Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Off Shore is incredibly high, since it’s not currently in production. It debuted in 1993 and has influenced the modern era of watches with its unconventional oversize nature. Cartier carries significant brand equity in the resale market, and the Calibre de Cartier in 18k rose gold with its exhibition caseback can spark an appreciation for the art and science of watchmaking. Rolexes are always sought-after, and the unisex 36mm Date Watch is no longer made in this size, so it’s an attractive listing. I recommend selling these exquisite pieces so you don’t have to worry about waiting for a buyer to scoop it up — we’ll handle that. 
How does trading in your timepiece differ from selling or consigning?
Trading in your watch is great if you’re looking to upgrade or score another coveted item on the site. The trade-in program allows consignors to swap their timepieces with a list price of $2,500 or more for site credit. The biggest difference with trading in is that unlike selling or consigning, payment — 75% of the price our experts give the timepiece, to be exact — is issued during the appointment and is ready to use instantly. And like the other methods, it’s sustainable — you’re extending the lifecycle of your former watch and are participating in the circular economy by purchasing another piece from the resale market.
RealStyle | Sell Trade Consign Watches

Chopard Happy Sport Watch; Piaget Polo Watch; Hermès Cape Cod Watch

Which models should consignors trade in?
For many years, Chopard has been known for its breathtaking designs and outstanding craftsmanship. The Happy Sport is one of the brand’s most iconic collections and they’re highly coveted. Piaget’s Polo watch is also a great piece to trade in. The American market expressed a need for a luxurious sports watch, and Piaget introduced the Polo in 1979. Many celebrities wore this watch in the ‘80s, from Andy Warhol to Brooke Shields. This classic was recently updated, so if you’re looking for an older model, the only way to snag it is in the resale market.
Hermès’ Cape Cod watch is also an iconic timepiece that’s seen many variations over the last quarter of a century. Demand for it is high, and the brand continues to manufacture different styles. Its rectangular case shape was inspired by the Chaîne d’Ancre link, which resembles a nautical anchor chain, leading to the “Cape Cod” moniker. These luxe timepieces are great to trade in, and you can swap them for equally inventive timepieces on the site.
What are the benefits of consigning a watch?
We recommend consigning a watch if you’re interested in maximizing your return on investment. Consignors receive 85% of the list price on watches priced $2,500 or more, and 70% of the list price on watches priced between $1,000 and $2,499.
There’s also more flexibility when it comes to pricing. Our team prices items at their highest value right out of the gate so they have the opportunity to sell for more as soon as possible. Consigning is a great option is you’ve got timepieces under the $2,500 threshold, since you can still potentially receive 70% depending on the list price.

RealStyle | Sell Trade Consign Watches

IWC Portuguese Chronograph Watch; Cartier Clé de Cartier; Panerai Luminor Marina Watch

Which models do you recommend to consign?
IWC is a highly regarded brand among collectors. The Portuguese is a classic inspired by IWC’s pioneering pocket watches, making it incredibly desirable for the seasoned aficionado. The Cartier Clé de Cartier is another great timepiece to consign, since the consignor can net over half of the original price. Panerai’s Luminor Marina is a sleek, popular model for both men and women. This exact style is not currently in production, which always means demand will rise. These are sure to sell quickly, so I recommend consigning them to capitalize on their coveted status.
When a consignor is sorting through their watch collection and thinking about what to keep versus consign, what should they consider?
Depending on demand and marketplace trends, all fine watches perform differently in the secondary market. The deciding factor on what to keep versus consign will vary from watch to watch, but take a good look at your timepieces and consider the resale value they hold.
If you’re looking to earn the most for your watch, market value may be the most critical factor. Classic styles from brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe always hold their value. And if sentimentality kicks in and, as Marie Kondo puts it, it sparks joy… well, keep the watch.
RealStyle | Sell Trade Consign Watches
How can consignors care for their timepieces so they retain top resale value?
Generally speaking, mechanical watches — both automatic and manual-wind — should be serviced by a professional every 5-10 years. The frequency and level of servicing depends on the age of the watch and how often it’s been worn.
Oil and residue will naturally make their way into crevices and build up over time, so keep modern water-resistant timepieces clean by gently washing them with ammonia-free soap and lukewarm water. Double check that the crown is screwed down completely before submerging your watch in water.
Also, be sure to hang on to any accessories that accompany the watch, such as the box, manual and extra links. These items may add resale value and will definitely enhance its salability and appeal.
Book a free watch valuation with one of our experts today.

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