Opinion: When to Sell a Watch

Last week, a conversation began in our Worn & Wound+ Slack community about how you know it’s the right time to sell a watch. We thought it would be fun to get the team together, to find out what the determining factor is for everyone on how you come to the difficult (or not so difficult) decision to let something go. There are a lot of variables at play, from wear time, to financial considerations, to pure laziness, that determine when or if a watch gets sent to the classified listings of our favorite enthusiast forums.

Check out the reasoning for these decisions among our editorial staff and team of contributors below, and be sure to let us know in the comments how you know that it’s the right time to sell a watch.

Zach Kazan

My approach to determining when to sell a watch is anything but scientific. In fact, I don’t know that you’d say I have an “approach” at all. It’s governed primarily by the unfortunate financial reality that I can’t actually afford to own every watch I’d like to have in my collection, and the creeping anxiety of seeing watches unworn in the watch box, day after day, month after month, year after year. I don’t let it get to that point, however, for fear that I might completely and utterly lose my damn mind. 

The primary factor, though, that actually determines when I’ll list a watch for sale, is my own laziness. Whether it’s the fact that I work in the watch industry day in and day out, or the absolute hellscape that is r/watchexchange and other enthusiast sales forums, when it comes time to kick back and relax at the end of a long day in the coal mines, the last thing I want to do is take a bunch of stupid pictures, write a stupid sales listing, and field a bunch of (sorry) stupid questions from tire kickers. I’d rather just finish re-watching all of the Mission: Impossible films before my Paramount Plus trial subscription runs out, doze off on the couch, and wake up confused at 3:00 AM, wondering why I was dreaming that I had a very important meeting in the Burj Khalifa. 


So, by the time I actually get around to listing a watch publicly, chances are that I’ve hit up friends in the local group chat multiple times to gauge interest, and thrown it up on my Instagram stories with a fun “For Sale” animated GIF and the promise of the lowest price on the internet. In other words, I put in as little effort as possible, getting the exact results you’d expect, for months on end. Eventually, finances creep back into play, and I realize that, yes, it would be irredeemably stupid to buy the new thing before clearing out the old, and I finally get my life together and make that Reddit post.

Zach Weiss 

I really don’t like selling watches I’ve bought, but I also accept it as part of this hobby. While I’d love to get and keep everything, that simply isn’t possible. So, the biggest factor in knowing when to sell a watch is knowing I want to buy another one. Sure, I find ways to justify around this like “…it’s been a while since I last bought a watch, so I’ve accepted the financial loss already” or “this one’s going to sell out fast, I’ll buy it now, and figure out what to flip later (which never happens)”. But, when it comes down to actually doing it, to picking what watch must be sacrificed for the greater good (err…buying another watch), I go by what I am actually wearing, what the value is, and what, if anything, the watch actually means to me. I do find that letting go is hard, but I often don’t miss them as much as I’m worried I will.

And sometimes, a watch just doesn’t click like you hoped, an experience I covered in 2020 in my We’ve All Been There editorial.

Chris Antzoulis 

Be forewarned, this is going to get real, and fast. I am someone who lives, and often thrives, with ADHD. But, I also know what aspects of my emotional self it pushes to an extreme. Often, I apply an emotional attachment to “stuff.” As enthusiasts I think we’re all infatuated with the idea of  preserving memories in our watches. Amplify that by 100 for a neurodivergent brain. You won’t sell a watch because it was what you were wearing when you had your first born…and I won’t sell a watch because it was what I was wearing that day I dropped my crunchwrap supreme in the Taco Bell parking lot, as it was also the same day I noticed how purple the sky can get during a Virginia Beach sunset. Silly, right? But also, not joking. 

So, how could I ever part with a watch I’ve outgrown, when I can’t even part with my crunchwrap supreme watch? 

Ultimately, it’s knowing that you are only getting rid of a watch and not disposing of a memory. Wear your watch one last time. Pay attention to whether or not you also like that watch itself, and not just the memories you had while wearing it. Now, as a former professor, I’m well within my rights to assign homework: Write about those memories.  Then, decide whether or not a watch that may not “suit you” is worth keeping, especially if you can still hold on to those memories without it. 

To recap: 1. Wear it one last time. 2. Do you like the watch or the memories? 3. Write a record of your memories. 4. Decide if you can part with the watch.  I know this is a lot of mental gymnastics one must stick the landing on over a watch, but for those of you who have equivalent attachment issues this will be worth it.  

Nathan Schultz

When I was first bit by the watch bug, I spent weeks obsessively searching for the perfect single watch. One would be enough, I naively thought. “Good!”, my wife exclaimed when it arrived, believing this was the end of my late night watch browsing.

I have since come to understand that the hunt for the next watch is simply a never ending cycle. But for something to come in, something’s got to go out. I approach this on redundancy and funds in the watch bank. I keep a tight collection where variety is king. If I pick up a new chronograph, a chronograph that gets less wrist time is on the chopping block.

I recently took my Land Tortoise on a backpacking trip and (to my surprise) was disappointed in its performance as a field watch.  Field watch out. Field watch in. I’ve got my eye on the Serica 4512, but priced at around $600, cash from the Land Tortoise won’t cover it alone. But I happen to have too many dive watches at the moment… I can already see my Promaster, just the right price to make up the difference, quivering in its box.

Tanner Tran

To be honest, I don’t have a playbook for knowing when to sell a watch. Watch-collecting is primarily an emotional hobby for me, and there are times when a watch that is perfect on paper simply doesn’t tug on my heartstrings – and even more often I find myself falling for one that has nothing to do with my usual preferences. Trying to quantify what the heart wants (or doesn’t want) is often an impossible task.

Given how holistically I view them, knowing when to let a watch go is not an exact science. Barring any watches with significant sentimental value, I’m not looking to have one of each type or check any boxes; I just want each of mine to make me feel special when I put it on. As long as that’s true – and I continue to want to wear it – the watch stays. And if it’s not, for any reason, it’s gone. That said, changing minds is part of life, and there is no optimizing what is ultimately an emotional endeavor for me.

A final thought: I find great enjoyment in giving watches as gifts as an alternative to selling whenever possible. Many of us started out in this game thanks to that one watch from someone special, myself included. With that in mind, I try to pay it forward by bringing new friends into this crazy world that we love so much and from which we may never escape.

Christoph McNeill 

When to sell a watch? As a watch collector, that’s the $64,000 question isn’t it? As it turns out, it’s not a cut and dry question for me. I’ve bought and sold hundreds of watches, for a multitude of reasons. I collect many things: comics, toys, books, vintage knick knacks, and of course watches. Ironically, I’m usually a hoarder and once I buy something for my collection I don’t sell it. However, watches have ended up being a different beast, collecting-wise.

I’m typically pretty picky about the watches I buy, and as such I usually want to keep them once I’ve bought them. That said, watches can be expensive, and there are way more watches out there that I want than I can justify spending my money on. This is a long winded way of saying that I will usually sell a watch (or two) when I’ve found a new shiny object of my desire. Now, how do I decide which to part with, and which to keep?


Once I’ve deemed it necessary to procure funds for a new buy, I’ll start figuring out which to part with. Firstly, I’d have to say that it boils down to what I wear and what I don’t. If I find that a watch just sits in my case getting dusty and really never gets any wrist time, that is usually the first sign of impending departure. It may be that the watch never really hit the spot like I thought it would, or it may be that my tastes have changed. I started out collecting Art Deco dress watches from the 1930’s and 1940’s, like Hamilton, Elgin, Gruen and Bulova, because I loved the designs. However, they are tiny and fragile, and over the years my tastes evolved to the 1960’s and 1970’s divers and sportier dress watches like Seiko, Squale, and Universal Geneve to name a few. So, each time I found a new Seiko or whatever, I would sell off a Deco piece. I figured it was better to effectively trade one or two I don’t wear for one I do, and the outgoing ones were hopefully sent to a new home where they would be loved and worn. 

Now, the choice gets much harder when I’ve parted with all the ones who have been relegated to the case because they’re not worn any more. As is the case now, pretty much all of my watches are ones that I like and wear, or find it hard to part with because they are rare or would be near impossible to replace. Such is my current dilemma. I have about 80 watches, and I love them all and honestly don’t want to part with any of them. However, I do have too many, and would love to downsize by selling off several to make one big purchase. As of yet, I haven’t been able to decide which will go (yep, I’m a hoarder…). Based on the past, I do have something of a plan though. I’ll first keep the “must haves”, generally ones that I wear with some regularity, or ones that are models that I feel are important or rare (a Universal Geneve Polerouter or a Cyma WWW, for example). Then from what’s left, I suppose I just have to pick the ones that are either the least compelling to me, or ones whose design aesthetic are no longer interesting to me. 

Forgive me for rambling, but if you’ve read this far you’ve deduced that this is a long-winded way to say, if I don’t like/wear a watch any more, it’s time to sell it!

Marc Levesque 

When to sell a watch? That is a great question and one that has evolved with time. When I first started collecting, it was time to sell or trade a watch when something else caught my eye. The internet was in its infancy, and as I was learning about new brands and watches, one had to go in order for another to come in.  Everything was new and exciting, and pricing back then made it much easier to take chances.

Multiple decades later, the same is true, one must go for another to come in, but after owning countless watches, it is no longer something new that catches my eye, but something that turns me off of the watch I am currently owning. It can be something as insignificant (to some) as the hands not aligning with all of the markers around the dial or an end-link that rattles and does not fit properly (Tudor). 

I guess after having owned and reviewed so many watches over the years, I have become so anal about the minutiae that I have evolved from wanting the newest releases to finding excuses to get rid of my watches and then searching for something to replace it. 

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