A different approach to watch collecting...
There’s going to be a new way to collect watches coming online soon, thanks to a website that certainly gets straight to the point, watchcollecting.com. There’s only a consignment page online for now – they will start selling watches in the first week of March (that is this week!) – but if the look and the name already seem vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s brought to you by the same team that created www.collectingcars.com. For those not in the know, this is an entirely online car auction website, founded by Edward Lovett and promoted by Chris Harris of Top Gear fame, which turned out to be a bit of a game-changer. It turned over £62 million worth of cars in just 18 months, going from zero to market leader. Recently it sold a Porsche for more than £700,000.
The reasons for its success were plentiful: an easy-to-use online platform, a trading system whereby the seller receives 100% of the auction price, but perhaps above all the fact that the site was staffed and populated by genuine enthusiasts with a passion for detail and an exhaustive knowledge of their subject. Every car sold is showcased with an essay about its provenance and a comprehensive gallery of photographs from every angle. Absolutely nothing is left to chance. Now, exactly the same format is being applied to watches – and the people behind it are hoping that it will meet with just as much success as its four-wheeled counterpart. Heading up the watch department is renowned expert Adrian Hailwood: whose involvement in itself is a guarantee of quality and professionalism.
“Our approach is a bit different: just like Collecting Cars it costs nothing to sell, and only 6% of the final auction price to buy’” he says. “So it really doesn’t take long to see that this is a considerably better deal for both buyer and seller than you’d get in most auction houses, and that’s the main attraction.”
There’s no catch, although there is a minimum buyer’s fee of £600, if that’s more than 6%. But how do you know that the watch you are interested in buying is genuine? The fact is, wherever you buy a used watch there’s always a risk of stumbling across a Frankenstein or a fake, but because Collecting Watches is publishing such detailed listings, it has the advantage that you’re buying from not just a seller, but a whole community that polices them. The number of watches sold – which will probably range in price from about £2500 to more than £100,000 – will be controllable enough for each seller to be vetted, as there will only be a limited number of watches being sold at any one time. And the number of photographs and details required mean that there’s no place to hide. But don’t worry if your photography skills aren’t up to much, because as part of the service Watch Collecting will send a professional photographer to you if required.
The rest works a bit like any other auction: you agree to a reserve and the timed auction runs for a week. You’re introduced to the buyer at the end with the funds transferred through an escrow system. Throughout the process, potential bidders can ask questions, with the whole community positively encouraged to interact. So it’s not just an online marketplace but also a forum: with podcasts, blogs and other features to make it an attractive place to browse.
“Collecting Cars shook up the car auction world and that’s what we’re hoping to do with Watch Collecting,” adds Hailwood. “We’ve been massively busy cataloguing our first watches for sale, and the amount of interest really has been phenomenal. There’s going to be a great variety of watches that should cater for most budgets. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
For all watch enthusiasts – and especially their families – this latest arrival on the online scene is absolutely terrible news. Like Collecting Cars, we’re predicting it to become the sort of mesmerising rabbit hole that will keep us coming back to our screens for hours on end: fingers itching towards the ‘bid now’ button. You have been warned…
To find out more about Watch Collecting be sure to head to their site here. For the latest news and updates, check them out on Instagram @watchcollecting_