Buying second-hand watches is a great way to save thousands of dollars. But anyone who has ever had the experience of buying and selling online knows that it can be stressful, even more so when you are dealing with high-ticket goods and faceless buyers/sellers. There is always a chance that someone will get burned, and I am sure we can all recount at least one horror story where things did not pan out exactly as one might have hoped. Enter Crown & Caliber, a service meant to take the headache out of buying and selling online.
CEO Hamilton Powell founded the Georgia-based company in 2012 after hearing from friends how they had a hard time unloading watches. An enthusiast himself, Powell convinced the investment firm he was working for to invest in Crown & Caliber, which began as a small two-person operation. Since that time, the company has grown into an impressive 35-person team, and today Crown & Caliber is the biggest online buyer and seller of certified pre-owned luxury watches. Crown & Caliber defines luxury as anything $1,000 and up, so their interest isn’t just focused on the super expensive or super rare, with brands like Tissot and Sinn positioned right up next to Patek and Vacheron.
There are two ways to go about flipping a watch through Crown & Caliber. The first is an outright sale to the company. The second is through their consignment program, which is 90% of Crown & Caliber’s current business and it’s where their unique proposition comes into play. A person looking to unload a watch provides Crown & Caliber with photos and information of the piece in question, and Crown & Caliber uses that information and previous sales at auctions and on forums to determine a fair market value. After both parties agree on a price, Crown & Caliber will provide the seller with pre-paid and fully insured packing materials so that shipping the watch to C&C is hassle free.
Upon receipt, Crown & Caliber will inspect and service the watch, which includes cleaning, accuracy calibration, lubrication, and pressure testing. It will then be photographed and listed on the site, which has a network of more than 50,000 potential buyers. The consignment period lasts 60 days (on average it takes 17 days to sell a watch), and if the watch isn’t sold within that time frame it is returned to the seller free of charge and with the initial service on the house. If the watch sells, Crown & Caliber takes a 19.5% cut. It’s a healthy percentage, sure, but with Crown & Caliber doing the legwork and assuming the risk, it makes complete sense.
For buyers, Crown & Caliber presents an especially sweet proposition. When you’re dealing with vintage watches, service history is often a toss up, and it’s hard to just take the seller’s word for it when they can’t provide any sort of documentation to back it up. Knowing that you’re buying a watch in proper working order with a recently serviced movement offers a peace of mind that traditional online sales often can’t provide.
Starting today, Crown & Caliber is launching the Coastal Collection, a curated sale of vintage and modern dive and yacht watches for up to 70% off the retail price. They’re also throwing in a few freebies for anyone buying a watch: a free shirt or blazer from custom haberdasher Knot Standard, and get this, a free kayak. And no, we’re not kidding.
The Coastal Collection will run through the 15th of September, so head on over and check it out.