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A new way to buy pre-owned watches in Dubai

Words by Rob Chilton

Now operating in the UAE, Watchbox aims to bring peace of mind to the second-hand watch market

Buying a second-hand watch and owning something with a story to tell is a seductive prospect. But often the romance falls prey to apprehension and the unpleasant feeling that you might be getting duped.

“There’s a fear of a fast move, a deal, a quick flip,” says Amanda Ellison, global president of Watchbox, a high-end second-hand watch website. Mohammed Seddiqi, chief operations officer at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, agrees. “I regularly visit the Gold Souk and people can get ripped off there. I know people who have bought Rolex Daytonas but the movements are fake.”

The solution is to bring legitimacy, trust and a VIP user experience to the second-hand watch market, and that’s where Watchbox comes in. The website that provides an online platform to buy, sell and trade luxury, certified pre-owned watches began in the US in Philadelphia before expanding into Switzerland, Singapore and now the Middle East. Previously only online, Watchbox will open its first store in Dubai this winter.

Second-hand watches for sale

All watches on the site are serviced by Swiss-trained watchmakers and come with a 15-month warranty. Those who want to sell their watch can upload a photo and model number and receive a quote from an expert trader within minutes.

For Mohammed Seddiqi, partnering on this project has been a dream 12 years in the making “We don’t want our clients to be cheated, we want to give them a better option,” he says. “Like a car or any luxury product, we know that people can get bored of their watches and want to trade for a new one.”

Amanda Ellison points out that Watchbox is not a “click and buy” website. “This is white glove service,” she adds. “It’s not e-commerce, it’s personal commerce. It’s important to feel a sense of trust and build a relationship with clients.”

Rolex is a popular brand on Watchbox

The Watchbox platform is open to all watch brands, even ones not under the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons umbrella. A few are priced under $1,000, while the largest sale is thought to have been around $2 million. Top-selling brands include Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Söhne, Panerai and F. P. Journe.

The Middle East move is hugely important for Watchbox, says Ellison who hopes to generate interest in younger watch buyers. “Millennials appreciate sustainability and humanity and so they believe repurposing watches is a good thing,” she says.

Asked to identify why second-hand watches have such an appeal, Seddiqi explains, “People are hungry for pieces that are not available anymore. We carry watches everywhere with us – they are the most personal of all luxury items.”

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