How to safely buy a watch on Chrono24 in 6 steps
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Navigating this blog
- 1. Finding a watch on Chrono24
- 2. Vetting the seller and the watch
- 3. Negotiating a good price
- 4. Payment to escrow
- 5. Shipment arrangements
- 6. Assess quality and authenticity upon receipt
- Other blogs of interest
- More about Relleb and the founders
In this blog we will explain how to safely buy a watch on Chrono24. More than 20.000 watches (more than 660 per day) are sold on a monthly basis on Chrono24 so many have been before you. With our experience on how to buy a watch on Chrono24 we are here to help watch enthusiast safely buy a watch online.
Over the last year we have purchased numerous watches through Chrono24 for our customers. During this period, we have had fakes in our hands (and luckily avoided some more obvious incorrect watches by thorough inspections of the pictures on the listing) and have facilitated in many very nice deals resulting in happy customers. Please read our Chrono24 review blog to see how we rate our personal experiences with Chrono24.
By explaining how to buy a watch on Chrono24 we will cover the full journey in the following steps:
- Finding the watch on Chrono24
- Vetting the seller
- Vetting the watch on photos
- Payment to escrow
- Assessment quality and authenticity upon receipt
Understanding how to buy a watch on Chrono24 will give you the comfort to buy a watch with confidence. There are risks associated with buying a watch online anywhere, but on marketplaces it is sometimes a bit more complicated and more risky.
1. Finding a watch on Chrono24
The largest availability of watches can be found on Chrono24. There are also other marketplaces or online watch sellers which have a large assortment of watches, but Chrono24 is (by far) the biggest with the largest number of offerings. Knowing how to buy a watch on Chrono24 will therefore bring a multitude of options.
Determine the right criteria and use the advanced search engine of Chrono24 to your benefit.
Set the right criteria
Finding the watch you are looking for can range from relatively easy to hard, depending on the type watch you are searching for and the criteria you have. The most important thing before hand is to set your criteria, of which we think the following should be taken into consideration.
- Quality of the watch: we think this is the most important and should give a direction to the possibilities. In our opinion a good quality is the basis of a good purchase and must be fundamental in your quest on to buy a watch on Chrono24. But if you are a in search for a heavily worn watch and want to restore watches, that is fine too of course and also here the search engine can help you.
- Price: Your budget is key on determining which watch to buy on Chrono24. Our personal preference normally is to save a little bit more if there is a watch out there you really, really want but you do not have the funds for just yet, instead of going for a cheaper version of the respective model because of heavy wear for example.
- Model and brand: Go with the watch brand you can resonate yourself and go with the model you really love to see on your wrist. A no brainer really, but we do encourage you to go go the extra mile in doing your research. Speak with other collectors about how watches are wearing on the wrist and look up photos on Instagram or Pinterest about watches on wrists. The best thing to do before you buy a watch online, for example a Datejust 41mm, is to try and wear one. Perhaps a local dealer has one that does not have the specifics that might be interested in (for example dial color), but then you can at least feel how it wears. An Oyster bracelet for example also feels differently compared to a Jubilee bracelet or President bracelet. Which is an element of personal taste as well.
- Find your size: find the right size you are most comfortable on your wrist. This is something that goes wrong unfortunately quite often. I myself for example have fairly small wrists, and would go for anything above 40mm. I searched the size of my wrist and checked out how people with similar wrists wore different watches. I did make an exception for the Speedmaster with 42mm and I’m super happy I did. The lugs on the Speedmaster bend a little down and doesn’t feel too big at all. So it’s not only the diameter of the case, but the lugs are as important. A tip would be to check photos on the internet of people with the same size wrists or the Chrono24 app showing you how watches would look on your wrist.
How to use the search engine at its best
Now you’re all set on what to look for, but then how are we going to find the right watch to buy on Chrono24 for you? Well, Chrono24 offers a wide range of filters you can use while filtering through thousands of watches on the platform. Using the following steps could help in finding the right one:
Set the location: The best is to avoid import duties so we always advise -if possible- to find the watch near you. Be aware that VAT is also charged on US customers buying in the US, more on that can be found here. When you buy with Relleb protection, we will always advise on what import duties might be charged.
- Set the condition: As said before, condition is key. Make sure to set the condition on new/unworn or good at least. But be aware, this might be incorrectly indicated by the seller. We will come to this at vetting the watch in more detail.
- Set the price: A no brainer, but consider to widen your price a bit upwards of your initial budget. A bit more money for a whole better watch is always a better deal!
- Use the reference number: If there is a specific watch you like (for example a Rolex 114060 Submariner No Date) use the exact reference number to filter out stuff that is not relevant, especially for watches that have more than 100 pieces available online.
- Use the year of origination: If you are looking for a specific watch from a certain year (birth year, or special production year) make sure to use this. Don’t miss out on pieces where the exact year is unknown (select the unknown box for year of origination).
- Save your search: create an account and save the search if your watch. You can even enable notifications to directly be updated when new watches are uploaded for your search.
- Save good sellers: with an account you can even save sellers to your account. Sellers that you have vetted that for example have great vintage pieces or lots of new watches in stickers can be a great joy to follow and a good source for your next watch. Every time they have a new watch available you will be notified.
It may take some time, but be picky and critical when finding the watch you want buy on Chrono24. It will likely be a great splash (on any budget) so take your time.
2. Vetting the seller and the watch
Vetting the seller
The first step is vetting the seller. Luckily Chrono24 does some work for you and if the seller is a trusted seller with a number of reviews, this will give you some level comfort.
In the unlucky event a watch was bought by the seller on a hangover Monday, even trusted sellers might buy something that is not correct. And for vintage watches this is even a risk when they buy on their sharpest day, even big auctioneers like Sotheby’s and Antiquorum have supposedly sold fake watches in the past. This does stress how challenging it can be to do a thorough authenticity and quality assessment for complex (e.g. vintage) pieces. Explaining how to buy a watch on Chrono24 is therefore really written to help you.
How a seller responds to questions is in our opinion the most important. If it doesn't feel comfortable, stay away!
The 5 steps on how to vet a Seller on Chrono24
Anyways, there is some work to do and we will give you some tips in vetting the seller when buying a watch:
- Research the sellers online presence: verify if the seller has a valid website, social media and an email address that the seller responds to. You can even check if the seller (if it is a company) has a registration at the Chamber of Commerce.
- Read reviews about the seller (in depth!) on Chrono24. But also on Google and Trustpilot, just search for the company name.
- Checking the actual location in Google maps.
- Check if the seller is easy to contact via Phone or Email
- MOST IMPORTANT: And how the Seller responds to questions (get a feeling about his/her knowledge and if a seller is polite and not aggressive)
We are convinced the steps outlined above will give you a feeling about the seller, always follow your gut feeling in this. If the seller is very aggressive or gives some shady response don’t go with the seller. As we love to say “buy the seller”.
Vetting the watch
You might decide to first look at the watch and then at the seller, but we think vetting the seller is really critical, because you cannot fully review a watch on it’s quality and authenticity based on the photos alone. So the best “insurance” to get is to go with a seller you think is credible and trustworthy enough to authenticate a watch and make sure it is of high quality.
Be sharp on red flags and have a good look at the details in the photos. Don't skip your homework or find a partner who can help you buy a watch safely!
7 tips on how to vet a watch based on photos
As said, verifying the authenticity and assess the quality of a watch can only be done by hand for 100% certainty. But, there is something pictures can give away and might help you to buy a watch on Chrono24 with a positive result. Here below we provide you with our top things to do when reviewing or vetting the watch based on photos:
- Observe the photos in detail and make sure the crown/pushers are in good condition and connect directly with the case, the lugs are in good shape and the watch is more or less clean.
- Observe the finishing of the dial and case (including specific marks and finishing of the reference number, gold indicator and company specific brand marks). High end luxury watches have a name for being very precise in printing and their quality. Although crispness of printing van deteriorates while ageing, make sure to check the dial up close with examples shared by brand itself or on forums.
- Observe the watch from every angle (also the bracelet, to make sure it is really in new condition).
- Observe the movement if possible and check the finishing of the movement in detail and make sure it looks in “good working condition”. Super fakes carry sometimes badly finished movements as well.
- Research the serial number to make sure the watch carries a correct serial number. For many watches, clasp codes do also exist. Make sure to check these as well on forums about Rolex and Omega watches in specific (depending on the watch you want to buy of course).
- [vintage-only] Check if boxes and papers are time correct at least. Some say about 80% of boxes and papers of vintage watches are not original, just try and find boxes and papers on the internet – it is quite easy. What you can do: ask about the story behind it, check if the boxes and papers are time correct by validating the box numbers and type of boxes and papers by reading on Rolex Forums (for example this Rolex forum).
- New watches (<5 years old) should come with box and papers (if not, that could be considered a clear red flag!)
3. Negotiating a good price
How to buy a watch on Chrono24 cannot go without tackling negotation. Negotiating can be a study on itself. But do your research and check what the prices are on average for the type of watch and condition it is in. Chrono24 has for many models a graph (scroll below) about the price developments of watches, providing an indication of the prices.
5 tips for negotiating a good price
- Set an amount you want to settle on and go with a strategy.
- It is quite annoying if buyers offer a price that is too low. Don’t lose the seller by giving a very low offer. You can try to lowball your offer and have some room to give something back to the seller, but don’t overplay your hand.
- If the price is fixed you can always reach out to a seller if there is any room.
- Be kind to the seller and have patience. Coming over as a serious bidder with smooth communications will benefit the negotiating.
- Follow watches you like in your account and enable notifications for price changes. Patience is the name of the game sometimes 😉.
4. Payment to escrow
How to buy a watch on Chono24 does also mean transferring the payment.
Payment options at Chrono24 are more than sufficient. We have always bought from the Netherlands and the options are to pay by credit card and by bank transfer. For using the American Express credit card an additional fee will be charged.
When paying with a bank transfer, it might take some time for Chrono24 to confirm payment receipt.
Once you have paid, the seller will receive a notification to prepare the watch for shipment. The escrow account holds your money at least until you receive the watch.
5. Shipment arrangements
The seller is responsible for arranging shipment and making sure the package is well protected and insured during shipment. Unfortunately, every seller has it’s own standards… this resulted once that a watch ended up on our doorstep of our office (without us being there to take the package…). Something you definitely want to prevent.
4 tips for the best shipment experience
- Make sure to emphasize to the seller to protect the watch carefully and send it with insurance.
- Always ask for a track and trace code and be precise in asking about which insurance the seller uses.
- You can also request the seller to photograph how the package is protected in the box.
- Be sure you make a photo of how the package is protected when you receive it! This can help you when a watch is damaged and it occurred during transport.
Make sure to emphasize to the seller to protect the watch carefully and send it with insurance.
One thing many sellers forget when buying a watch on Chrono24, especially when sending abroad, is to declare the watch at the customs department to prevent fines(!) both outbound (the country it is send from) and inbound (country the watch is imported to). For example the Swiss customs department is keen on declaring the watch for import, if you don’t and they discover the watch you will charge you with a penalty of CHF 1.500 (c. $2.000 / €1.600).
6. Assess quality and authenticity upon receipt
This last step might be the most important for buying a watch on Chrono24. It makes your approach waterproof and fully ensures you know what you buy and prevent buying a fake watch. Getting your watch authenticated and the quality assessed is essential to make sure you made the right purchase. It sounds easy and it is definitely something you must do, but the practise will show you it is more difficult than you think.
Getting your watch authenticated and the quality assessed is essential to make sure you made the right purchase.
The 4 best options to get your watch authenticated
No, we will not leave you hanging now as there are proper ways to do this, and we will provide you with some tips crucial to know how to buy a watch on Chrono24 safely. You have the following options.
- Go to an authorized dealer: you will be relying on the expertise of the watchmakers at authorized dealers and we know they are not always right, but they are one of the best options to go to.
- Find a watch expert: if you don’t have a watchmaker in your direct circle try to find one on the forums. Most often watch enthusiasts are very helpful and for example here in the Netherlands there are some great experts that have a lot of knowledge about Omega for example. You can go to these experts and ask them to have a look (although you shouldn’t go there for a free ride, they must earn some money as well).
- Research the watch yourself: make sure to check online which marks are on a specific watch, how a full set looks and what original boxes and papers are for a specific brand in a specific year. You can just use Google (also for pictures about full sets etc.) and use both large auctioneers (such as Sotheby’s, Christies, Phillips and Antiquorum) and forums for specific brands to check details about your watch.
- Use Relleb protection: We founded Relleb to help watch enthusiast safely buy a watch online. With our Relleb buying protection we buy the watch on your behalf and first authenticate the watch and verify it is in accordance with the listing on Chrono24.
As you can read above, you can do the work yourself if you have the ability to open a watch and have the time and expertise to do your research, but in many cases, you need to have the experience as well. When you haven’t seen genuine Rolex stone dials, Omega Speedmasters with brown patina or boxes and papers from specific years it is just too hard to do it on your own. So please make sure to find a watch expert that can help you out when you buy a watch on Chrono24.
Also, be careful that with Chrono24 buying protection you have a 14-day period to raise a problem. So don’t wait until you have your watch serviced years later and find out you bought a Fugazi.
We hope this how to buy a watch on Chrono24 blog will give you some guidance that has helped us over the past.
Other blogs of interest
More about Relleb and the founders
We founded Relleb to provide buyers peace of mind when buying a luxury watch online. We hated to see beloved colleagues and friends being scammed on the internet and we experiences first hand how diffefult it can be to only buy a watch online and also authenticate a watch by yourself.
We stand for the ultimate customer experience when buying a watch:
- Customer focused process and facilitating customs import duty policies and risks
- Authentication by hand by an experienced watchmaker
- Quality certainty over movement, timekeeping and condition
- Authentication report and photos/videos documenting the authentication of the watch
- Insured shipment with a priority carrier to your doorstep
- Free returns and refund if a watch is fake or incorrect