Whether you have your hands on a Rolex Submariner or recently picked up a boutique watch, determining its current value is often more difficult than it may seem. While the retail price can be used as a good starting point for brand new watches, after a watch leaves the store and has been worn, the determination of value needs a bit more information to determine. The valuation of a watch is a unique process -- it's a bit of an art when it comes to calculating to an amount you're comfortable with and that you feel properly reflects is current value.
Below are several factors that should be considered to help better determine the current value of your watch:
The make and model of your watch is one of the most obvious factors when it comes to determining the value of a watch. High-end luxury watches, such as Rolex and Omega, tend to maintain their value no matter how old they are. In most cases, brands that have more complicated movements or are a limited edition run from a well-known brand are valued higher than average.
#2: Overall Condition
Just like getting an appraisal on a used car, putting a value on a used watch will depend on how much damage there is to the exterior and if the watch is still working. If the watch is missing any important elements or parts have been replaced, its value will drop. Even minor scratches or dings and dents can take away from the overall value of the watch.
The term condition can be broken down into two categories – Physical Condition and Functional Condition.
When attempting to determine a watch’s physical condition, the entire watches surface should be examined for blemishes. This includes the case surfaces, bracelet surfaces, crystals and any antireflective coatings applied to the crystals. Once this examination is complete, all of the nicks, scratches and dings that you noted should help you with your determination.
When assessing a watch’s functional condition, the watch should be examined to ensure that it functions as intended. This includes an inspection of the watch’s clasp, movement complications and movement timing. By performing this task, it will help you determine whether the watch will perform as intended and help compare it to your expectations as well as its manufacturer specifications.
Once these two categories of condition are determined, you'll be able to categorize your watch into a condition grade. These grades vary from new down to poor condition and are used to compare like models for pricing purposes.
If the watch has aged cosmetically, it actually adds value to the watch because it gives it an authentic vintage look and some character. So, if your watch still has crisp edges, a faded bezel and a brown hue to its hour markers & hands, it could be be worth more -- if you have a vintage watch that still looks brand new, don’t be surprised if you are offered less for it compared to a watch that has patina. Any signs of aging that have caused damage to the watch or interfered with the watch’s function, however, do the opposite.
#4: Box and Papers
The original watch box and the ‘paperwork’ that came with the watch are important parts of the watch package. 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.
It's commonplace for a watch to be missing its boxes or paperwork. If either or both of these is missing, the value of the watch can go down dramatically. This is especially the case with newer watch models, where less time has passed since they were purchased. In the case of vintage watches, boxes and paperwork add value because they are less common. The determination of the decrease or increase in value related to boxes and paperwork depends on the specific watch being evaluated. In the case of some lower cost watches, the difference is minimal.
#5: Authenticity & Demand
Watches from the original manufacturer — not replicas or counterfeit watches — will be more valuable even as they age. As long as there’s a market demand for the watch (check eBay and watch trading sites), you’re in luck. Verify authenticity by finding the original markings and serial number of the watch.How much is your watch currently in demand in the sales market? This is something that may affect its value as well as impact how long it may take to sell or trade. If you watch is a model that is currently in demand or sold out, its value may increase because of a low supply or current trend.
#6: Pop Culture
Remember the Rolex and Omegas James Bond wore in the movies? Many fans turned the Rolex Submariner and Omega Speedmaster into their Grail watch after seeing Bond showing his support for these luxury timepieces. Other watches that have made an appearance in movies — especially if they are the same model as the one worn by stars — are almost always in high demand and will appraise higher than others.
#7: Rare Finds
On the flip side, watches that are very hard to obtain and haven’t necessarily been in the spotlight also tend to be higher in value. If you have any type of limited edition or limited production run from a major brand, it’s likely that the watch will increase in value dramatically over time. As long as the watch stays in good condition and has its box and papers, you can expect to get an attractive appraisal for it.
#8: Comparable Sales
There's no exact science to determining value, it typically hinges on comparable sales and experience. Finding comparable sales is a fairly easy process. Below are some suggestions:
- Searching an online forum sales tool, such as www.watchrecon.com. This site accumulates all of the sales post from dozens of watch forums. These sales posts can be sorted by brand and model to see current as well as past sales posts to see how much your watch is selling for within the online watch communities. For valuation purposes, this would be one of your best resources.
- Searching an online auction site, such as www.ebay.com. By checking listings on these sites, you can see what your watch has sold for in the past. These sales prices aren’t necessarily indication of value but an indication of what people were willing to sell it for and what people have purchased it for.
- Other online preowned resellers. By checking reputable resellers, you can check their current watches for sale. Please note, these prices are an indication of the watches are currently priced at, not necessarily what people are willing to pay.
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