Common Misconceptions About Buying and Selling at Auction

We know. The auction world can seem complex and confusing, especially for first time participants. In an effort to debunk some of the most popular misconceptions on both sides of our business, we asked our specialists to clarify the process of buying and selling with an auction house.

We know. The auction world can seem complex and confusing, especially for first time participants. In an effort to debunk some of the most popular misconceptions on both sides of our business, we asked our specialists to clarify the process of buying and selling with an auction house.

Buying:

Misconception: You are expected to place a bid if you attend an auction exhibition preview

Daniella Rosa, Business Development Manager: The purpose of a watch auction exhibition preview is to showcase the full range of timepieces that were compiled for a particular sale. Attending an auction exhibition preview is like walking into a library of knowledge, offering a glimpse of watch history at your fingertips. Exhibitions are free of charge to attend and give clients an opportunity to physically inspect any watches of interest while asking questions to specialists about provenance, reference specifics, and market value. Of course, clients are welcome to place bids at any time prior to auction day or while browsing lots at an auction preview, however, there is no obligation to register for a sale or place a bid after inspecting the watches of your choice. Whether you’re new to the auction process or a seasoned collector, attending exhibition previews is one of the best ways to grow your watch (and auction) knowledge by asking questions, creating relationships with specialists, and discovering the auction process at your own pace.

Misconception: You're on your own

Tiffany To, Specialist: Do your research with aid from a specialist. Identify a specialist who can help you and ask specific questions such as - which parts are not period correct? What is the service history? Has there been a watch that you recommend that has been overlooked in the catalog? Is there any information available beyond the catalog? Our specialists are here to help and guide - by asking and knowing the right questions, one can make great buys at auction.

Misconception: Your purchase isn't protected

Martin Wilson, Chief Legal Counsel: It is a common misconception that buyers at auction have fewer rights than if they buy privately. In fact, any watch bought from Phillips benefits from a 5 year Warranty of Authorship. Full details of what is warranted are set out in the Conditions of Sale.

Misconception: Prices are always too high

Tiffany To : People often complain the auction is too expensive an avenue to purchase watches. However, do your research - if the watch is a commodity piece, know the market price and bid within your available budget. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. But if you know the correct price (factoring in the buyer's premium), you have a higher chance of winning something at an appropriate price. If there are no market comparisons, it is always worth it to stretch your budget for the best quality, as more often than not, you will be rewarded in the future for taking a risk for the very best.

Selling

Misconception: Low estimates will reflect poorly on my watch

Chris Youé, Specialist: "What if it only makes the low estimate?"  "I was offered more by a dealer” These are concerns we often hear from first time consignors, and we understand them. Of course there is always the possibility that a watch just makes the reserve, however, by consigning a watch to Phillips, you are engaging the services of their global department of specialists, consultants, catalogue designers, marketing departments and client services. Every single one of whom are working with the goal to maximise the price achieved for your watch. A high hammer, is good as good for the seller as it is the house. A dealer is there to buy low from you, sell high for them, consigning to auction, you become part of the team, total price transparency and a guaranteed date when the value is agreed.

Misconception: Auction houses only sell to a niche group of collectors

Arthur Touchot, Head of Digital & Specialist: Watches have only recently gone from being a hobby enjoyed by a small group of enthusiasts to becoming quite mainstream, but it's been felt in a big way when it comes to collectible watches, as it has led both to a significant increase in the number of collectors, and attracted collectors from other fields. Quite simply, auction catalogues have never enjoyed the leved of attention they receive today. Thanks to robust digital platforms, and extremely visible social media accounts with hundrers of thousands of followers, watches are now being promoted to audiences worldwide, with photographs, videos, detailed webinars and one-on-one meetings over "Zoom" allowing every enthusiast the chance to inspect the property from the comfort of their homes. This year, we already welcome more than x,xxx registered bidders signing up online from more than 70 countries, with online bidding taking place at every price point including for vintage watches worth more than $1 Million.