A good watch is effortlessly classy.
There’s something so empowering about wearing a bold, stylish timepiece on your wrist when you sit down for a meeting or head into an interview – or on a date, a watch makes you look like a total badass.
But that same watch — or another one, that doesn't make you feel so hot — is sitting in a drawer, jewelry box, or safety deposit box, is another story.
In that case, you know what’s even more empowering than showing off an amazing timepiece?
Money to use for whatever the hell you want.
If you’ve got a high-end watch that you simply don’t like or don’t use (or maybe one that brings back bad memories — hello heirlooms!), it just might be your ticket to something more rewarding — say, a vacation fund, investment in a side business, paying off debt, or a downpayment on a home.
Selling a watch — or any fine jewelry, for that matter — can be intimidating.
Traditionally, there’s the process of finding a qualified appraiser (and there may only be one or two in your neck of the woods, lessening the chances you’ll be able to compare offers) and figuring out where to sell it. That’s why I’m a big fan of selling jewelry using Worthy, but more on that later.
Then there’s the hassle of even finding a few spare hours to do all of that — as watches remind us, there’s only so much time in a day!
And then there is the question about whether you trust the quote your local jeweler or watchmaker gave you.
Are you getting ripped off?
Fortunately, there are options today that make it easier and safer than ever, without even having to leave the house.
What you should know about selling watches
Similar to jewelry, watches of high quality can be valuable for decades and centuries after purchase. While there are some exceptions, the price you paid will likely be more than the price you get in resale.
Antique watches are at least 100 years-old.
Vintage watches are at least 20 years-old. A watch less than 20 years is likely to be classified as simply “old.”
To determine the age of a watch, you must open the timepiece and find a serial number on the movements. If your watch does not have a serial number, a highly trained watch expert may be able to determine make, model and year of your piece.
In fact, before you sell your timepiece, it is important to get an appraisal from a reputable jeweler or third-party like CentralWatch which can offer you a certified appraisal, or authentication.
What affects the value of your watch?
Here are some of the factors that can help determine the price you will receive for your watch:
- Brand and model (see below for a list of luxury brands buyers are most interested in)
- Limited production numbers
- Swiss Made
- Manufacturer-made movements (not replacements or repairs)
- Construction using precious metals including gold and platinum
- High-quality jewels and stones
- Age and history of the watch
- Quality of the clasp and band
Most expensive watch brands = potentially worth more
Obviously, name-brand, luxury timepieces will sell for higher market prices, as long as there is a demand. One of the most important factors in your journey of selling your watch is to determine whether it is real or fake.
How to tell if a Rolex is real or fake
By far, Rolexes are the most popular luxury watch, and they also tend to hold their value very well. While the company makes about 700,00 new Rolex watches every year, there are also many phony ones. Here is how you can tell whether your Rolex is real, vs fake:
- A real Rolex will be silent, and does not make a ‘ticking' sound.
- The second hand on real Rolex will move smoothly, while a fake will stutter.
- A real Rolex is made of real metals, and weighs significantly more than a phony.
- Fake Rolexes have winders on their sides that are basic, while the real deal has finely and artistically engraved winders.
- An authentic Rolex has a special “cyclops lens” over the date, which magnifies that number. Fake Rolexes do not have this feature, typically.
How to find the value of a luxury watch (i.e. How much is my watch worth?)
If you have a vintage or antique watch — or simply a used luxury timepiece you no longer want — gather all the information you have on it, and start with one of the online marketplaces like Chrono24.com or even eBay, to understand a ballpark price you may receive.
You can take your watch to a local jeweler or watch repairer, who can give you an appraisal, which is a written statement of of the estimated replacement value of your watch. Replacement value is not the same as the resale value, which will be much lower. An appraisal is useful to understand more about your timepiece, and for insurance purposes.
From there, if you understand that your watch is worth in the thousands of dollars, consider taking it to one of the big auction houses like Sothebys or Christie's, which all have qualified watch experts on staff.
Also, you can send your watch to Worthy.com, the largest online, fine jewelry and watch marketplace in the world, and will send your watch to be authenticated by CentralWatch, a trusted and well-known watch repair and service provider.
How to find the value of a Rolex watch: How much is my Rolex worth?
If you have a Rolex to sell, you may find you made an excellent investment, as these watches hold their value more than other timepieces, studies find.
To find the value of your Rolex, the best way is to get an authentication by a certified watch expert. This professional can remove the back of your Rolex, inspect the serial numbers to determine the age and model, and examine the movements to establish the watch's repair history. This professional will also help you understand how much your Rolex is worth with and without papers.
Where can I sell my Rolex near me?
Chances are, your local jeweler is not a watch expert, and not the best person to help price your vintage or antique Rolex's value — much less sell for the highest price. Luxury watches, including Rolexes, are highly specialized items that can only be accurately appraised by experts.
Sell your watch online
By working with a reputable online watch buyer, you increase your chances of getting the highest price. Why? Because online platforms are global, and have the ability to reach a global buyers' market — which is exactly the market for luxury watches.
There are a lot of options to sell your watch and jewelry online, but Worthy stands out.
Worthy is an online marketplace, and each watch auction attracts bids from hundreds of qualified buyers all around the country — if not world. Worthy works with leading watch experts to accurately value each timepiece, takes professional, 3-D photographs using specialized computer equipment, and merchandises each watch. You control the reserve price, and are paid within a few days of the sale.
Most of Worthy’s buyers prefer brands whose watches retail for tens of thousands of dollars (and sometimes more).
Here are some examples of recent Rolex watch sales at Worthy:
Rolex 118238 Day Date K264407 sold at auction $10,175.
Rolex 1680 Submariner 5405484 sold at auction for $5,087.
Rolex Yatch-Master 16622 K722068 sold at auction for $4,185.
Rolex GMT Master 16710 K389230 sold at auction for $4,536.
Rolex Daytona 116520 439JX559 sold at auction for $7,965.
Why should you sell your watch?
First and foremost, you need to make your own decision. In a lot of cases, expensive watches are gifts or inherited in a collection of estate jewelry.
There’s something to be said for sentiment, so you’ll need to weigh how much your watch really means for you and your family.
Is this timepiece something you think you might want to pass on to a child someday or is it truly something you can do without?
And as far as heirlooms go — is it a men’s watch that you or your daughter would never even wear?
Or maybe it belonged to an ex? Is it out of style — with no sign of coming back?
Among the things you might want to consider when making your decision is practicality.
Think about how often you use this watch. Is it a trusty sidekick you enjoy daily, or a is it collecting dust in a jewelry or safety-deposit box?
It’s easier than ever now to keep track of time — most of us walk around every day with a phone, and there are clocks — digital and otherwise — around almost every corner.
And if you’re somewhere truly remote without cell service, like on an excursion into the mountains, you’re probably better off wearing a $100 Timex that can get beat up than an $8,000 Rolex.
Does Worthy buy Rolex watches?
Worthy chooses which brands to buy based on their buyers' preferences.
And it's a no-brainer that the finer the brand, the higher price it will fetch in auction.
Worthy points out that some watches have sold for more than $1 million.
Luxury watches and vintage timepieces are sought-after items, after all, and yours just might be worth more than you realize, especially if it’s a rare and limited find.
For a quick reference, though, Worthy reports that on its site, a Rolex Submariner recently sold for $6,120, a Hublot Big Bang recently sold for $4,725 and a Breitling Motors recently went for $2,929. (Can you say cha CHING?!)
Here’s a list of watch brands that are in demand by Worthy’s buyers:
Bell & Ross
In fact, unlike retailers who carry these brands, many of whom sell only newer watches, Worthy's buyers actually prefer vintage or antique versions of these big names – particularly ones in excellent condition.
The rarity ups the value, which increases the amount you'll be paid. So, that watch of your grandfather's?
You just may be sitting on a tidy sum of cash!
How does Worthy work?
Worthy is an online jewelry auction platform that is laser focused on high-end jewelry and watches.
In fact, if you have rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and the like, Worthy can be a great option to turn unused jewelry into quick cash — while also feeling confident that you are getting the best price on the market.
Once you decide you want to part with a piece of jewelry, go to Worthy.com.
How to Sell You Watch:
- Go to Worthy.com
- Enter your name and email, along with basic information about your watch or jewelry, including uploading pics of your timepiece.
- Receive an estimated market value for your piece right then and there. This process takes about 2 minutes.
- A very nice customer service representative calls to answer all your questions and tells you what will happen next.
- Ship your item. If that estimate suits you, Worthy will send a FedEx delivery person to your house the next business day (or sometimes the same day!), in which you send the jewelry, diamond or watch to them — Worthy pays for all shipping and insures the item for up to $1,000,000 (yes, really!).
- Worthy pays for a third-party report. Worthy partners with Central Watch for these evaluations. Central Watch has been in business in New York for more than 60 years, and has both an excellent reputation in the industry, as well as an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. The experts there take a close look at your timepiece and provide an in-depth report. Worthy will then contact you with a copy of this report, and its appraisal price. If this sounds good to you, then ….
- Agree on a “reserve price,” or the lowest price you are willing to accept.
- Your watch is auctioned. Worthy will then take professional photographs of the watch, and create an attractive online profile for your timepiece. Then, the auction begins! Worthy ensures that your watch will be seen by at least 100 potential buyers worldwide, who can then bid on your item.
- Receive an offer within 7 days of Worthy receiving your item.
- Get paid. After you confirm the sale, you’ll receive payment within 24 hours, including through PayPal or your bank account. Cha-ching!
Worthy has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, which, frankly, provides real peace of mind.
How much can I get for my watch on Worthy?
The amount your watch will bring depends on many factors.
You won't be surprised by the final sale prices, since you will receive an estimate from Central Watch beforehand, and you yourself set the minimum you are willing to accept.
That said, here are some things that can affect the value of your watch: Limited production numbers, brand and model, proof of Swiss craftsmanship, manufacturer-made movements, construction using precious metals, the quality of jewels and stones in the piece, the conditions of the clasp and band, and piece’s history and age.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video I made detailing my own experience selling jewelry on Worthy:
Fees and guarantees
When your watch or other jewelry sells, Worthy takes a fee of up to 20 percent of the sale price.
That’s something to keep in mind, but remember that basically, anyone selling anything for you is going to take a cut.
Worthy scores points with its transparency.
If your jewelry doesn’t get sold for at least your reserve price, Worthy will return it for free, and you don’t wind up paying anything before the sale.
Another perk is that Worthy will actually pay you $100 if you get a better price from an independent jeweler.
If you’re on the fence, or you’re just trying to figure out if your old watch is even worth selling, it's a good idea to do some research.
You can always turn to Google to get a vague idea of what your watch is worth.
It won’t hurt to price shop, especially if your watch is made by a well-known brand.
It can help you get your bearings, but keep in mind there will always be factors that make a difference, such as the age of your watch and the condition it’s in.
That’s why you’ll definitely want a professional appraisal like Worthy can provide.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.