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04/23/2024
 4 minutes

Navigating the Prestigious Path: A First-Time Online Luxury Watch Buyer’s Experience

By Aaron Voyles
ONP-971-First-Time-Buyer-Experience-2-1

Navigating the Prestigious Path: A First-Time Online Luxury Watch Buyer’s Experience

Along with the Internet and all the conveniences it has brought us, nothing has transformed everyday life more than the advent of online shopping. While things like social media, email, and plenty of other aspects of the Internet have changed everyday life around the world, it’s particularly difficult to imagine contemporary society without online shopping. That’s at least my view as a watch collector who has spent more money online on luxury watches than he would like to admit. I’m sure many of you will feel the same; hey, at least we’re self-aware. Online shopping has revolutionized the watch collecting hobby in more ways than one. Buying watches was always a rather conservative retail experience. Online watch sales have been to watch collecting what the digital camera has been to the cinema, propelling the industry into the 21st century. However, with such a dramatic impact comes risks that necessitate the need for caution as an online watch buyer, particularly as a first-timer who is looking to get started on their watch collecting journey.

Your First Purchase Sets the Tone for Future Enjoyment

Buying your first luxury watch, especially if it’s online and not from a brick-and-mortar boutique, can be a pretty stressful experience. While the search (or “hunt”) is incredibly fun, rewarding, and educational, the transaction itself can leave you uncertain. “Is the dealer trustworthy?” “Is my money safe?” “Will the watch be real, not a fake?” “Will the watch be as described?” “Will I like the watch as much in person?” These and many more questions are likely to swirl inside your head – they certainly did when I purchased my first luxury watch online.

In fact, in a rather naive move that I would recommend to precisely no one, my first online luxury watch purchase was a baptism by fire. I had decided to spend the money I’d saved from my 18th birthday to buy a TAG Heuer Aquaracer from an online dealer in the United States – which was an international cross-border transaction, leaving me open to even greater risks than normal, as I was buying directly from the dealer and not through a trusted third-party intermediary like Chrono24. This is not the type of transaction I would recommend as anyone’s first. It also showcases how we, as beginners, often don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into.

It's not just aesthetics Aaron sees, but rather the personal significance his Aquaracer carries.
A Beginner’s Baptism By Fire: Aaron bought his first watch online.

This convergence of fear and excitement can lead to a tainted decision-making process and cause us to make mistakes, especially as first-time watch buyers. I was lucky that my first experience with watch collecting and buying my first serious watch went so well. However, your first really is the most important, as it serves as the foundation upon which your future enjoyment of the hobby is built. If you fell off a horse after getting on for the first time, you might naturally shy away from riding; if your first online watch purchase goes badly, you may similarly avoid taking up watch collecting as a hobby. But that’s not what we, or the greater watch collecting community, want. After all: the more, the merrier.

Avoiding Counterfeits: Trusted Sellers and Authentication

The most obvious thing that can ruin your first online watch buying experience is that the watch is fake, and all the money you spent is lost on something no more valuable than a paperweight. Of course, your two best defenses against this scenario are to buy a watch from a trusted seller, known as “buying the seller,” or to have the watch certified authentic by a neutral third party that can provide complete peace of mind. Better yet: do both.

But what are some other things you can do to reduce the risk of running into problems before you commence the transaction? One is to ask the dealer the right questions and request additional photos of anything you’re not sure about. Ask if all parts are original and if there are any extras in the scope of delivery, like boxes, receipts, manufacturer’s warranty papers, service invoices, etc. Does the dealer know the watch’s service history? How well does the watch run? Ask for a timegrapher reading, and ask about anything else you think is relevant.

Ask all the questions you think are relevant, and pay attention to good pictures.
Ask all the questions you think are important, and make sure you’re provided with good pics.

A legitimate dealer won’t be bothered by these kinds of questions, especially if they can sense that you’re a serious buyer. You can read online reviews, use an escrow service to hold funds until you’re happy with the watch, and ask for advice from more experienced collectors (if you’re lucky enough to know any). All in all, if you do your due diligence on the dealer and the watch as it’s presented to you, you’ll be fine. However, if you want your purchase to be beyond any shadow of a doubt, having the watch certified authentic by Chrono24 is the ultimate solution to ensure a smooth transaction. It’s definitely worth considering.

While there are always risks associated with buying anything expensive from an online dealer, you don’t have to accept this as some kind of incontrovertible truth. Regardless of your level of experience, there are always ways to mitigate the risks of buying, protect yourself, and ensure your purchase and your future enjoyment of the watch collecting adventure it will inevitably lead you to. Don’t settle for anything less than complete transparency, and don’t leave yourself open to unnecessary risks. After all, you deserve the very best.


About the Author

Aaron Voyles

I love everything about watchmaking, from the artistry of their design to the engineering hidden within their movements and the history that breathes life into their stories.

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