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Watch your step: Understanding the intricacies of watch appraisals

Various types of watch markets

Having an understanding of the different markets and market levels is important when deciding what is relevant to research for your watch appraisal. For example, you would not research pawn shops to determine the replacement value of a watch for insurance coverage, but would do so for a liquidation appraisal. The following are the most common markets where watches are bought and sold.

• Retail (i.e. brick-and-mortar and online): This is the only market where new watches may be purchased from authorized dealers. The same market also sells pre-owned watches.

• Department stores.

• Big-box stores.

• Watch show dealers­—some may have a retail or an online presence.

• Auction houses.

• Pawn shops.

Much like the automobile market, desirability is driven by the brand, which means value can rapidly depreciate unless the watch falls into the rare collectible category. Appraisers need to observe the marketplace to decide into which category the watch they are appraising falls (i.e. brand new [currently in production], a retired model [not collectible], or retired model [collectible]). This comes down to research. What was the original MSRP when new? Is it still part of the current list of models on the watchmaker’s website? If not, how is it performing in the auction market? What is the pre-owned watch dealer’s asking price? How many examples of your watch brand, model, and year currently exist in the market?

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