Online marketplaces like eBay, which has been selling luxury watches for 25 years, are helping buyers and sellers connect—and offering the best prices on a spectacular range of choices.
And now, with eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee, the marketplace is taking the apprehension out of buying a great watch online.
Absolutely free for buyers and sellers, eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee offers meticulous inspection and verification of all watches that sell for $2,000 or more in the U.S. Designed to provide an additional layer of trust when it comes to shopping for high-end watches, Authenticity Guarantee lets shoppers browse almost 80,000 new, rare, pre-owned and vintage watches marked with the “Authenticity Guarantee” badge.
“We’re taking big steps to cater to the online luxury watch consumer,” says Tirath Kamdar, general manager of luxury at eBay. “This is an exciting chance to do something great for watch aficionados.”
“When buyers see that badge next to the watch, they know they can shop confidently,” adds James Hendy, general manager of authentication at eBay.
At eBay, unlike other online retailers, buyers concerned about fraud never have to find their own authenticators or appeal to the platform to take a watch back. Even better, eBay inspects watches before buyers receive their purchases. That means buyers have no reason to be concerned about fraud.
“The key thing that our users have made us aware of is their desire for a platform they can absolutely trust,” Hendy says. “We want to make sure that whatever they’re buying is legitimate—and awesome.”
Here’s how the Authenticity Guarantee process works.
Every qualifying watch sold on eBay goes first to eBay’s third-party authenticator—a partner with four decades of experience with dozens of luxury watch brands. The authenticator, which employs over 40 in-house watchmakers and technicians, opens each package and checks if the enclosed watch matches the listing’s description. It then performs a multipoint inspection.
Experts work in static-free “clean rooms” in the state-of-the-art facility, poring over every piece’s bezel, crown, dial, case, buckle and hands. Meticulously verifying each watch, they look for often near-imperceptible signs that the material, finishing, color, typeface or engraving isn’t authentic.
“The experts have a wide range of technology that they put to use beyond the classic jeweler’s loupe,” Hendy says.
Nor do authenticators verify only if a watch is real. They also check that the watch is running as per the seller’s description.
“We want to make sure that a watch is in great working condition, telling the correct time, when it gets to the buyer,” Kamdar says.
In addition, the authenticators examine any materials that come with watches, such as boxes and papers. These help sustain a watch’s value—and they can be counterfeited.
When the examination is done, the expert issues an authenticity card indicating serial number, movement type, case material, bracelet type and other key details.
Finally, the experts professionally repackage the watches in their luxe/premium packaging and send them to buyers via two-day shipping, with signature required. The point, says Kamdar, is to give online shoppers the same “luxury experience” they’d get in high-end stores.
eBay’s new Authenticity Guarantee provides unparalleled additional peace of mind for buyers. Yet that’s only part of the equation.
“The program also helps protect that other key party: the seller of the watch,” Kamdar says. “We want to foster security throughout the whole process. Everybody has to be absolutely satisfied. There can be no weak links.”
A seller who’s expecting a watch returned no longer has to fear “rocks in the box” or wonder if someone’s swapped out the watch for a fake. Before sending a watch to the buyer, the authenticator applies a security tag. Buyers can try on the watch, but if they remove the tag, they can’t return the timepiece. eBay’s authentication partner verifies each returned watch to ensure it’s exactly in the same condition in which it was sold.
Using Authenticity Guarantee is an effective first step in optimizing the value of a luxury watch.
Here are some other top tips that Kamdar and Hendy say collectors should keep in mind:
By prioritizing care, collectors will be able to make the most of their luxury watch experience—one that eBay is continually working to improve.
“More people are getting comfortable shopping online,” says Hendy. For online businesses, he says, that means doing more for the customer, to replicate the kid-glove care that people associate with great stores.
Authentication is part of that mission.
eBay, which sells a Rolex every three minutes, long ago mastered offering elegant pieces at scale. Now, with this enhanced service for luxury watch buyers and sellers, it’s fundamentally changing how shoppers take part in the marketplace. Authenticity Guarantee is boosting its commitment to high-end timepieces and building even more trust in the online luxury watch market.