Watch Trading Tips for Newbies: How to Trade Watches Like a Pro

Make Sure It's a Fair Trade

If you’ve thought about trading your watches to build your watch collection and get your hands on some new styles and brands, make sure you’re following the unwritten rules of trading. Watch Gang makes it easy to trade watches with other watch enthusiasts with a private online community: The Watch Gang Exchange. This highly active Facebook Group page now has more than 23,000 members which gives you many trading opportunities — and opportunities to learn about everything watches. 

So, are you ready to trade? Here are some important tips for trading watches like a pro:

1. Ask for Paperwork

Watch owners always keep the box and paperwork of the watches they plan on selling or trading because the new owner needs to verify authenticity. If someone is posting a watch for trade without paperwork, plan to ask lots of questions. 

Other than having a watch authenticated by an authorized dealer or watchmaker, one of the best indications that a watch is genuine is that it includes its original boxes and ‘paperwork’. The paperwork for a watch often consists of the watch’s warranty cards as well as its reference/certification card. Both cards originally ship with the watch and usually will include information specific to that time piece, such as the watch’s serial number, reference number or model number. If given the choice of a watch with ‘boxes and paperwork’ or one without, it is always suggested that the watch with documentation would more than likely a better choice. In the absence of paperwork, you should find an alternative means to become comfortable with the authenticity of the watch.

2. Make Honest Assessments About Trade Value

Almost all watches depreciate right after they’re purchased so you can’t expect to get exactly what you paid — even if the watch is brand new and never worn. You can cross-check listings for the same watch or similar watches online to get a fair appraisal of the watch’s actual value.

One of the most important aspects of trading a watch is ensuring that both parties are properly valuing their watches. The value of a watch can be a fairly complex exercise, because it involves the watch’s: age, cosmetic condition, completeness, functionality, service history, provenance and sales history. All of these should be considered separately to determine whether they potentially increase or decrease the trade value of a watch. In addition, all of these should be asked of a trading partner to determine whether the watch being received is adequately valued.

3. Verify the Trader with Referrals

Many members in the Watch Gang Exchange have posted recommendations on who to trade with. This is one way to ‘vet’ someone interested in trading but you can also request references directly from the trader. Exercise caution when someone refuses to provide references or if you can’t verify much of anything about them.

Requesting a sale or purchase references is another great way to become comfortable with a trade partner. There are various ways to do this: Posting a reference check on the Exchange, asking the party for reference names or reviewing the Exchange for past sales transactions. This is one way to ‘vet’ someone, to see if there were any issues with past deals and how their interactions with other trading partners went. By making a post like “Joe Smith Reference Check” on the Exchange, you are sure to receive timely feedback, good or bad. Exercise caution when someone refuses to provide references or if you can’t verify much of anything about them.

4. Discuss Payment Details

In situations where trade values are not equal, payments to one of the partners may be necessary. In these cases, a secure form of payment should be utilized, which offer protection to the buyer and to the seller. There are many secure payment services in the market, such as PayPal 'Merchandise and Services' as well as Chase Pay, which provide this protection and should be used for transactions with non-family members or friends. There are sometimes fees involved, but they are minimal when you consider what you might not be able to recover. 

If payment services are suggested, such as PayPal 'Friends and Family', Facebook Pay, Venmo or another similar service, which does not offer buyer protection, you should reconsider completing the transaction or insist on a more secure form of payment.

5. Confirm Shipping Details

Are you going to be covering the other person’s shipping costs as part of the deal or are both parties going to pay their own shipping individually? How much will it cost to ship and how long will it take to arrive? Make sure you’re clear about shipping expectations upfront so you know when you can complete the actual trade. Typically, the final step of completing a trade is physically shipping the watch off to its new owner. This is a fairly straight forward process, but there are some things that should be established with your trading partner prior to actually shipping the watches.The following should be agreed to prior to finalizing your deal:
  • What type of shipping will be used?
  • For example, will both parties be using USPS Priority shipping? If so, both should agree when tracking number information will be provided.
  • Will both parties be insuring the packages?
  • If so, what will the insurance amount be? As a side note, it is recommended that all watch shipments be insured. Risk of loss stays with the shipper and the shipper will recover the value declared if the watch ends up being lost or stolen.
  • When will the package be shipped?
  • Generally, the packages should be shipped on the same day to ensure that the watches arrive to their new owners on or around the same day.If these details are handled upfront, the transaction should be a more smooth process and both parties should have the same expectations set.

    6. Make Arrangements for High-Value Watches

    In situations where you would like additional assurance due to the value of a trade or being apprehensive regarding a transaction, there are other safeguards that are available to provide reassurance.

    When you enter into Rolex, Omega, or other grail watch-trading territory, it’s not always easy to verify the identity of the person you are trading with and ensure you will get the watch you’re expecting. You can mitigate some of the risks associated with a high-value trade by using an online escrow service like or reaching out to someone who will oversee the transaction so that both parties get what they traded for. 

    With, you would each agree to pay a deposit on the watch when you trade and then release payment when the watch was received as posted. If either party fails to send the watch, they don’t get their deposit.

    Join Watch Gang, the World’s #1 Watch Club, and you’ll get a brand new watch every month. Our watches are guaranteed to be worth up to 5x your membership and you’ll find thousands of members in the Watch Gang Exchange who would be happy to trade with you. Plus, all members are automatically entered to the weekly Rolex and TAG giveaways.