According to a recent Bain & Company study of the worldwide luxury market, the forecast remains bullish, “The prospects for personal luxury goods out to 2030 are positive. Solid fundamentals are set to boost the market’s value to between €540 billion and €580 billion by the end of the present decade, from an estimated €353 billion in 2022—a rise of 50% or more.” Fueling this boost are generational and technological trends. According to the study, Generation Y (millennials) and Generation Z accounted for all of the market’s growth in 2022. The spending of Gen Z and the even younger Generation Alpha is set to grow three times faster than other generations’ through 2030, making up a third of the market. New types of activities, often powered by technology, should also spark an additional €60 billion to €120 billion in sales by 2030.
The Bain & Co study focusing specifically on the watches category affirms that watches have evolved from a challenged category to the new object of desire. Sales of new watches grew by 22%–24% and reached a record €52 billion, reflecting solid demand for top-of-the-range models and iconic pieces, but growth was capped by low product availability. Sales of secondhand watches, estimated at an additional €25–€30 billion, rapidly grew in 2022, fueled by the appetite of Generation Z and millennials for investment and resale opportunities, given the high resilience of the category during crises.
With an ever-growing spotlight on the secondary market from luxury buyers, brands have begun to take notice. Brands large and small, ranging from Rolex to MB&F to Vaer, have begun to launch their own internal certified pre-owned programs (CPO). In keeping with and contributing to this trend, eBay has taken a major leap forward in shaping this market.
The marketplace made waves last week by announcing a new program – ‘Certified by Brand’ – that partners directly with luxury watch, jewelry and handbag brands to sell certified new and pre-owned product offerings directly from brands and authorized sellers.
It was only a matter of time before eBay would be looked upon by many watch brands as an ideal platform for CPO and other efforts in the secondary market. “Certified inventory in the resale market is an undeniable opportunity for brands and authorized retailers, and eBay is the ideal partner for those looking to scale,” said Tirath Kamdar, Global GM of Luxury at eBay. “eBay’s Certified by Brand program broadens access to both buyers and brands to shop and sell luxury goods with confidence and certainty.”
In the world of pre-owned and vintage watches, specifically, there is an often-spoken adage that is generally regarded as the most fundamental piece of advice: buy the seller — that is to say, know who you are buying your watches from, and only buy watches from people you trust. In a corner of the industry where information can be scarce and mistakes costly, being able to rely on the expertise and advice of the seller – and the platform in which you are buying from – is fundamental.
With the creation of Certified by Brand, the very landscape of purchasing watches, and other luxury goods like handbags and jewelry, on eBay is about to change. Listings will include either “Direct from Brand” or “Brand Authorized Seller”, bringing even more clarity to would-be buyers. Curiously, items will be listed as both, fixed “buy it now” prices as well as eBay’s auction option. This will inevitably create an even broader dynamic for buyers and sellers alike.
Reassuring both buyers and sellers has, of course, been a key focus for eBay over the past few years. Beginning in 2020, eBay launched the Authenticity Guarantee program to evaluate and authenticate timepieces. Whereas in the past a watch would travel straight from seller to buyer, with only the description and provided photos as a guide, now there is a process, and multi-point inspection by professionally trained authentication experts, to give everyone peace of mind — buyer and seller alike. Watches over $2,000 that are sold via the online marketplace are sent to eBay’s third-party authentication partners Stoll & Co. who authenticate each timepiece.
It’s a fascinating time to be a collector, balancing on a precipice between the untamed wilderness that is the internet, which is like a massive digital flea market, and a world where even the secondary market will be largely governed by large retailers and brands alike. Many years ago, eBay may have been thought of amongst watch enthusiasts as the 47th street of the internet — you only go there if you really, really knew what you’re doing, or you really, really didn’t. Only one of those options was advisable. But today, that has changed – and for the better. Buyers can be reassured that they are buying what they think they’re buying, and sellers, brands and retailers are also offered added assurance that a recipient of a product won’t fabricate unfounded complaints in an effort to evade payment.
These efforts speak to eBay’s continued dedication to bolster confidence in its shopping experience for high-passion and high value-products for brands, retailers and buyers alike.
With the addition of Certified by Brand, top luxury brands can now have a direct role in the way their products are represented in not only the primary, but also secondary market selling their inventory either directly or via authorized sellers. With over a dozen brands including independents like Konstantin Chaykin, Vianney Halter, and Perrelet, as well as more broad-market companies like Fossil Group’s Zodiac Watches, it’s a notable list of companies that is already starting to garner attention from the industry. If the trajectory of the past few years is any indication, these early adopters are just the first, but will certainly not be the last, to set up shop in the dynamic landscape of digital sales.
Vianney Halter sums it up best, “As a long-time customer of eBay, I have always valued discovering remarkable pieces among the platform’s breadth of inventory. I am pleased to be partnering with eBay to bring a selection of extraordinary watches to their customer base.” For any watch brand that is looking for a way to scale their sales of new and certified pre-owned watches with confidence and to a worldwide audience, eBay is a perfect match.