eBay expands its authentication program to luxury watches

Last fall, eBay took on fashion resale sites like TheRealReal with the debut of its own authentication program for luxury goods. Today, that program will now authenticate luxury watches, in addition to the handbags and wallets it was already verifying. At launch, there are nearly 7,000 authenticated watches for sale on eBay’s site, including those from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Breitling and Panerai.

The watches range in price from $500 to over $50,000 for a selection that includes both pre-owned and vintage items.

Similar to the luxury handbag verification service, the new authentication program for watches will utilize third-party experts to verify the watches’ authenticity. The authenticators will also list, sell and ship the watch to the buyer, taking a cut of the sale price. On its handbag service, that cut is 20% – which is competitive with if not lower than the rest of this market.

Ebay hasn’t outlined the fee for watches at this stage, it tells us, as it hasn’t opened it up to casual sellers.

When eBay Authenticate first arrived, the company explained it was reacting to increasing consumer demand to buy pre-owned luxury items online, but found that eBay shoppers were hesitant to do so because of the potential for forgeries and knock-offs.

Its delay to address consumer interests here allowed other retailers like TheRealReal,Tradesy, ThredUp to specialize in this type of authentication service and cater to that audience on their own sites. There are also sites that focus specifically on certified pre-owned luxury watches, like Crown & Caliber, Gray & Sons, WatchBox, and others. Even Amazon has a selection of certified pre-owned watches, verified by WatchFacts.

With eBay having recently reported weak growth and a lowered revenue forecast in its latest earnings, it needs to pursue higher-ticket items to bring visitors back to its site. 

It believes luxury watches can help boost its sales, as it’s already a top site where people shop for secondhand watches – a market estimated at $5 billion. In the U.S. alone, a watch is purchased every five seconds on eBay, the company notes,

“eBay has the largest selection of luxury goods – from rare and designer handbags to fine wristwatches – and we know this community wants an added layer of trust and confidence when buying in these categories,” said James Hendy, Senior Director of eBay Authenticate, in a statement about the launch. “We’re adding third-party authentication to this inventory because we know the importance buyers place on trust for high-value purchases.”

eBay Authenticate for watches is available today in the U.S., and several European markets, including the U.K. and Germany.

Correction: The 20% cut for handbags may not apply to watches, eBay says. We’ve corrected this post to clarify this.