Online marketplace eBay has added luxury watches to its eBay Authenticate service, working with professionals to ensure the watches advertised on its marketplace are the real deal.
The authentication service was launched last year for the luxury handbag category. Now watches that have been checked will also be marked with an “Authenticity Verified” label and a blue tick similar to the one celebrities get on Instagram.
It has come under scrutiny for how the watches will be checked. In an FAQ on eBay’s website it says authentication is managed by “a select number of our top sellers, whose authentication capabilities have been rigorously vetted by independent experts”.
However, when you try to create a listing for an authenticated watch, an automated e-mail says: “Industry experts will authenticate, price and list your item. This process usually takes 3-5 days after the item is received. Experts will list your item for up to 60 days. You’ll be paid within 2 business days after it sells and the buyer has paid. If your item doesn’t sell, it’ll be returned to you for free.”
WatchPro has requested an interview with the head of the eBay Authenticate service but has not yet received a reply.
Paul Altieri, owner of Bob’s Watches, one of America’s most reputable traders of pre-owned Rolex, says: “To properly authenticate and certify that a pre-owned Rolex is 100% genuine, it needs to be done by a 3rd party provider.”
The eBay service is starting in the United States and will expand this month into several European markets, including the United Kingdom and Germany.
More than 7,000 watches from 30 luxury brands, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling and Panerai, have so far been given the Authenticity Verified label.
With new styles added daily, ranging in price from $500 to upwards of $50,000, the program is expected to grow to nearly 10,000 luxury watches in the coming weeks.
“eBay has the largest selection of luxury goods – from rare and designer handbags to fine wristwatches – and we know this community wants an added layer of trust and confidence when buying in these categories,” said James Hendy, senior director of eBay Authenticate. “We’re adding third-party authentication to this inventory because we know the importance buyers place on trust for high-value purchases.”
As a major player in the secondary watch market — estimated as a $5 billion industry — watches are one of the top-selling categories on eBay. In the US alone, a watch is purchased every 5 seconds on eBay, the company claims.
Tim Stracke, CEO of the world’s largest specialist marketplace for luxury watches, told WatchPro this summer that the platform handles transactions worth over $1 billion.