The global pandemic and subsequent economic stimulus produced an unprecedented boom in demand for luxury watches. By the end of 2022, the luxury watch market had an estimated value of US$42.2 billion according to Grand View Research, and is estimated to continue skyrocketing as high as US$80 billion by 2033 based on a thorough analysis by Swiss consulting firm LuxeConsult.
“With great growth comes great opportunity… for scammers and fakers,” says Grailzee Auction Expert, Drew Edwards. “You have people, many for the first time, getting into the hobby of luxury watch collection and trading, which is wonderful to see.” Edwards continued, “But it also opens people up to various forms of fraud. From Frankenstein watches to fake cash and in-person theft, it can be an ugly world to transact if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’re here to create a safe space for enthusiasts to buy and sell”.
As a luxury auction house, Grailzee’s process is designed in such a way that it is impossible to circumvent the authenticity process. Unlike Chrono24, eBay, and the like where buyers and sellers communicate privately and can go “off-platform” (usually in an attempt to avoid excessive fees on behalf of the seller), all comment threads and communications on Grailzee are public prior to auction close. Snipe protection extends listings to give all bidders a fair chance to win, and authenticity and condition reports are provided at no additional cost to boost buyer confidence and bring top dollar to sellers.
Grailzee charges a flat fee for sellers based on the level of service (shown below), and buyers pay a flat 5 per cent final value fee to Grailzee. When an auction is complete, buyers are required to send proof of funds to Grailzee. The seller then ships their watch to Grailzee’s third-party authentication service, who confirms the timepiece is as described, and ships to the buyer once the seller confirms funds have been received — eliminating the many pitfalls that come from person-to-person or traditional online transactions.
“Our advantage for both sides is definitely the third-party handling of the transaction, and the straightforward fees,” Edwards says. “It’s too easy to take sellers and buyers off of Chrono24 to skip their authentication process, and with seller fees at 6.5 per cent that the incentive is high to circumvent their process entirely. We’ve also seen eBay’s authentication centre miss fakes, and they generally have not provided a transparent process for buyers and sellers. By removing the high fees from the seller’s side, we’ve found they are more inclined to be fully transparent and involved in the process, rather than leverage us as a marketing tool to then do a direct deal off-site, which is exactly what they’re doing on Chrono24 and eBay.”
Buyers and sellers alike are raving about the platform so far. “I am super happy with the service,” says seller Dan B. when asked about their experience with Grailzee. “The fees are way better than eBay, the watch is sent to get authenticated, escrow is set up, and then they ship to the buyer!”
“I won two watches in January, a gold Panerai and a Rolex Starbucks,” Grailzee buyer Michael S. told LUXUO. “The inspection reports were a nice touch, and the watches arrived exactly as described. I’ve been in this hobby as a collector for five years now and haven’t had a buying experience as good as this one.”
As buyers and sellers continue to migrate from in-store to online shopping, it’s important that objective service providers like Grailzee exist to create safe transactions for both parties. Especially for high-dollar luxury items like wristwatches. As Grailzee’s Auction Expert Drew Edwards explained, “We’ve had auctions close from US$1,500 for a TAG Heuer all the way up to US$175,595 for a rose gold Patek Philippe. On either end of that spectrum, there is a lot of money at stake relative to the people involved in the deal. Our top priority is to continue refining our process to be as transparent, safe, and efficient as possible.”
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