Tourneau agrees to certify luxury watches auctioned online by Portero

Tourneau, America’s largest watch retailer, has agreed to certify the authenticity of preowned luxury watches bought and sold on Portero, a company dealing in online auctions of luxury products. Portero, in turn, will be Tourneau’s official channel to the secondary market of online auctions.

“Together, we’ll bring much-needed confidence to online luxury auctions, which today can be rife with replicas, misrepresentations, and unscrupulous dealers,” said Dan Nissanoff, Portero’s vice chairman and president, in announcing the alliance. “We’re confident the fundamental nature of our partnership with Tourneau will eliminate this dilemma and enhance the online-auction experience on popular sites like eBay [the platform Portero uses for its auctions]. If a consumer wants to buy a luxury branded watch online, and only one of them is accompanied by a Tourneau Certificate of Authenticity, which one do you think they’ll choose?”

Tourneau, for its part, believes the new program is “legitimizing the secondary market of online auctions for luxury goods,” said Howard Levitt, Tourneau’s president. “We recognize this is the future for buying and selling preowned luxury goods online and a way for us to extend our brand to the secondary marketplace.

“Our goal is to provide online buyers and sellers with the absolute assurance they are receiving maximum value for their watches, just as we impart to customers in our retail stores.”

When a consumer contacts Portero with a watch he or she wants to sell, it’s studied and authenticated by Tourneau’s experts, documented in a secure database, issued a Tourneau Certificate of Authenticity, and goes online on Portero for purchase. (Tourneau gets a percentage of each transaction.)

On the Portero Web site, authenticated preowned timepieces are identified with a “Tourneau certified” designation. Their specific Web pages each contain a box with the same “Certified Tourneau Pre-owned” seal Tourneau uses for its own preowned collections on its Web sites ( and, and statements that Tourneau and Portero have “an exclusive partnership … to create a safe and trusted venue to buy and sell authentic luxury watches” and that Tourneau “certifies to the purchaser that this timepiece was originally manufactured by the company whose trademark(s) it bears and … is in working order.”

Tourneau-certified watches already offered on Portero include those of Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Breitling, Bulgari, Bulova, Ebel, Girard-Perregaux, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Maurice LeCroix, Movado, Omega, and Rolex.

According to The New York Times, Portero has approached some luxury goods companies to create similar partnerships, with Portero as authorized resale channel for their products.

The Tourneau-Portero alliance was due to be officially announced Aug. 15, though the program was put into effect and reported in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune earlier in August.

Portero, founded in 2004 and based in New York City, provides an online-auction venue to consumers to buy and sell new and preowned luxury goods (i.e., apparel, art, boats, collectibles, electronics, housewares, jewelry, watches, vehicles, etc.) and to corporations, luxury brands, and retailers “to channel products to the secondary market in a manner that protects their brand,” says the company.

Tourneau, started in 1900, is America’s largest watch retailer. It markets over 100 watch brands in more than 8,000 styles, and is authorized to sell and service every major watch brand. It operates 19 Tourneau and nine Tourneau Watch Gear stores in the United States and in the Caribbean. Four more new stores will open this fall, and several more in 2006.