Luxury watch collectors have always been wary of shopping for timepieces on eBay.
The original online marketplace is a great place to pick up a used bike or even a rare Danish-modern dining room set. But the platform has been challenged by counterfeiters over the years, and without the resources to stop the occasional faux Rolex or Panerai from slipping into its listings.
But come fall, that’s changing—at least when it comes to high-end watches. Ebay has slowly been rolling out its new Authenticity Guarantee, a robust post-sale authentication service for all watches sold over $2,000.
The program debuted with eBay’s top watch sellers this summer. But the company will authenticate 100% of watches priced over $2,000 in the U.S. starting this fall. Come September, if you see a pricey watch on eBay, it will have been verified as the real deal.
The program’s widespread debut will include an influx of roughly 80,000 watches—new, pre-owned, and vintage—onto the platform, all bearing the new “Authenticity Guarantee” badge. Watch brands represented, both currently and moving forward, include Rolex, Omega, Piaget, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, and Panerai.
Here’s how the authentication process works: After a watch is purchased and it’s shipped to the customer, the piece is routed to a third-party authenticator for an assessment, the company says. Once verified, the watch is shipped via expedited, two-day shipping from the authenticator facility to the customer, with signature confirmation upon delivery, all of which is covered by eBay.
The multi-point inspection and proof of authentication include confirmation that the item is consistent with the listing title, description, and images, and a multi-point physical authentication. Finally, a security tag is attached to the watch, which signifies that it’s been verified, along with an Authenticity Guarantee card detailing information such as the brand, model, reference number, movement type, case material, bracelet type, and serial number. (Watches customized with aftermarket components of any kind aren’t eligible for authentication.)
“The Authenticity Guarantee is really about bringing a better customer service experience to the buyer,” says Tirath Kamdar, who was tapped by eBay this year to be its first general manager for luxury. “As a buyer, you want to make sure that the watch is not only authentic but also coming to you as listed and described. This is really important for luxury shoppers—we don’t want them to deal with the friction of returns.”
Ebay isn’t disclosing the company it’s working with to authenticate watches, but Kamdar notes that “it’s not an eBay seller.”
The opportunity for growth in luxury watches is enormous for eBay, and its sellers. In 2019 the platform sold over 2 million watches, and a Rolex sells every three minutes on the platform, Kamdar says.
“The scale of eBay is major,” he adds. And sellers of luxury watches “are looking at the power of 180 million collective buyers.” Which boils down to opportunity in a climate where customers are shying away from brick-and-mortar shopping, he notes.
“This is a hard time for many retailers, sellers, and wholesalers; they’re not seeing foot traffic like they did, and some stores are not open. The fact that we’re able to help get their inventory out there, and allow them to reach that digital consumer, makes eBay a very unique player among marketplaces.”
Top photo: A marketing image from eBay for its Authenticity Guarantee (all photos courtesy of eBay)
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