If the venerable auction houses, with centuries of tradition and opaque business practices seem intimidating, confusing and expensive, then the recently launched Watch Collecting online platform may be just the place for you to start buying and selling as you begin your collecting journey.
Classic cars and vintage perfect replica watches have always been perfect bedfellows, so it was a natural progression when the owners behind the hugely successful Collectingcars.com, which specialises in auctioning rare, high-value automobiles, decided to launch a sister business, Watchcollecting.com.
Inside a year of the online auction site going live, it had racked up sales of £10 million thanks, in part, to its motoring enthusiast audience transitioning rapidly to add watch collecting via timed auctions to its thrill list.
From a technical perspective, Watch Collecting also got a bump from using the same online auction software platform as its sibling.
Collecting Cars’ business model was also adopted, which sees buyers paying a premium of only 6% plus VAT for purchases over £10,000, or a flat fee of £600 for sales below that level.
Traditional auction houses’ buyers’ fees can be 25% or more on top of the hammer price.
“We have taken the lessons from the success of Collecting Cars and applied it to the watch auction market, an industry ripe for disruption,” Edward Lovett, founder of Collecting Cars and Watch Collecting said at its launch in the Spring of 2021.
The timing could not have been better as 2021 and into 2022 will forever be remembered as the period when sales of second-hand watches blew up, with prices of the most tradeable watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet fake watches for sale doubling during that period.
Online auctions at Watchcollecting.com were setting new price records on a weekly basis thanks to the low fees attracting a growing cohort of sellers and buyers.
The hysteria of that first year has deflated along with the prices of your typical Swiss made replica Rolex Daytona or Patek Philippe Aquanaut watches, but Watchcollecting.com continues to thrive.
Nick Bennett, content editor at the company, says that the past four years have seen collectors come together into a community with a shared passion for luxury replica watches.
“We are an enthusiast-led online auction and sales platform dedicated to pre-owned luxury watches,” he tells WatchPro.
Simplicity is key to the model, not only for buyers and sellers, but also for the business itself, which is how it manages to keep fees so low compared to traditional auction houses and even trading platforms like Chrono24.
“Watch Collecting is 100% online, with lots going live six days a week via our ‘Daily Auctions’ that last seven days, or through our recently launched ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Offer’ option. It’s free to list and sell, vendors receive 100% of the hammer price and the watch stays with the seller throughout the process,” Mr Bennett explains.
The company also wants to take complexity away from people who are new to selling watches, so that even somebody who might have just inherited top US copy watches from a loved one can use the site with confidence.
“With an emphasis on convenience, all sellers are assigned a dedicated consignment specialist for the duration, providing advice on how the platform works, agreeing on a reserve and helping to organise professional photography. We also have a team of copywriters who will craft a detailed description,” Mr Bennett describes.
At the conclusion of an auction where the reserve is met, the buyer will be charged a premium which is 6% of the hammer price plus VAT (a minimum of £500 plus VAT applies). The seller and buyer will then be put in touch to complete the transaction.
Similarly, with our Buy Now or Best Offer option, the buyer will be charged a premium at the same rate as an auction based on the sale price.
Watch Collecting aims to address some of the pain points in the second-hand Swiss replica watches market around high fees, slow turnaround times and a lack of support for buyers and sellers.
With no fees for selling and a small buyer’s premium, the business offers an alternative to both traditional auction houses and other online platforms. Assistance from experts also helps to maximise sale prices.
“There’s a focus on high-quality photography and informative descriptions, for example, which we believe drive customer confidence and maximize the potential for a sale,” suggests Mr Bennett.
With prices rising and falling so rapidly in the past two years, it has never been more important to get a solid evaluation for any fake watches wholesale that is being sold or bought.
There are a number of companies tracking prices, but most are flawed.
Some, for example, use data from advertised online prices, which are typically over-inflated because transactions take place after a bit of haggling.
Others provide data designed to sell watches that a business is trying to sell, so it is far from independent.
Watch Collecting is different. Anybody can go onto the site and see precisely what China replica watches has sold for.
Given the high volume of sales, there are usually examples of the most tradeable high quality super clone watches with their hammer prices. Recent experience points to these hammer prices being considerably lower than other trackers are suggesting.
“We’ve placed a real emphasis on market transparency. Access to real-world sales data has historically been difficult to find in the watch market. Watch Collecting has disclosed the sales price for every watch sold on our platform since inception, readily available to view on our website’s ‘Sold’ section,” Mr Bennett reports.
As the site has grown, it has inevitably unearthed occasional hidden gems that have been consigned to auction by owners with little knowledge of their value.
One such ‘Antiques Roadshow’ moment came in 2021, when Swiss movements replica Rolex Submariner ref. 6200 watches was consigned by the niece of its original owner. She had discovered the watch in a box of his possessions after he had passed away.
“Completely unbeknown to her, this old watch, covered in dust, turned out to be one of the rarest and most sought-after variants of the Submariner, with only 300 examples ever made, all in the early 1950s.
In all original condition with a perfectly aged ‘Explorer’ dial, it sold for £205,500, with 100% of the hammer price returned to the seller,” Mr Bennett recalls.
Other notable highlights include a rare two-tone Submariner with a lapis lazuli dial that, after a long bidding war, sold for over £64,000 and, more recently, one of best quality fake Patek Philippe’s hero references watches, the diamond-paved platinum 5271P perpetual calendar chronograph which hammered for £213,000.
“With over two years now behind us, we’ve amassed more than 2,700 sales worldwide, returning over £50 million to our sellers,” says Mr Bennett.
“Our membership has also increased significantly over that period with almost 20,000 people now signed up. With a real focus on customer service we’re also proud of our Trustpilot rating of 4.7 out of 5 from over 200 reviews. With that in mind, we’re looking forward to helping many more happy customers buy and sell watches in the future.”