By the Numbers: The Best Watch Trading Forums in 2020

Posted by Charles Tian on May 17, 2020

Despite the continual rise of social media over the past decade and a half, forums remain some of the most popular places for people to talk about luxury watches. Vibrant trading communities also sprung from these discussion boards, allowing members to buy and sell amongst each other. Forums are still a compelling option if you’re looking to buy or sell a watch in 2020. Here’s why.

Personable Experiences

At the end of the day, watch collecting is an emotional hobby. An emotional bond can be found not just between the watch and wearer, but also between collectors and enthusiasts that share the same love for a brand, collection, or model. Trading on watch forums, as opposed to dedicated marketplaces, allow for more personable experiences between buyer and seller, as each party’s profile represents their personality and interests.

Furthermore, both the buyer and the seller are given full and equal opportunities to deal in confidence. Until the money is sent or the watch is shipped, either party can decide to walk away if they don’t feel 100% comfortable with the transaction. This is not always the case on other platforms.

For example, when selling on eBay, you have no choice but to ship a watch to the buyer once payment is received, even if they are unvetted. The deal could be initiated with no prior contact from the buyer, and even if the buyer has low/no feedback.

As a result, I feel that selling on eBay is generally a riskier experience than on the forums. On the other hand, as a buyer eBay has a lower barrier to entry and much greater selection. So there are pros and cons of both options.

If you’re interested in buying watches on eBay, be sure to check out my 5-step guide first.

No Seller Fees

Another win for watch forums is the lack of seller fees – something that platforms like eBay are well known for. As of the time of this writing, eBay charges a flat “final value fee” of 10% of the selling price. This fee is capped at $750 per transaction, but that’s still no small amount of money to fork over. At the luxury price point, that’s some serious dough for every watch you sell.

Aside from final value fees, eBay also charges additional payment processing fees of about 3% through its partner PayPal. These fees can be even higher if currency conversion fees are introduced for international payments. All told, eBay could charge up to 15% of your final selling price – money that could have gone into your pocket.

If you’re selling within the United States, you’ll also have to consider that eBay will charge sales tax on your behalf. While this isn’t a fee per se, it will likely make your prices less competitive than if you were to list on the forums.

Buyer and Seller Feedback

Finally, the most popular watch trading forums also have dedicated spaces where buyers and sellers can share feedback for the individuals they have transacted with. I find that the feedback that is given here is typically much more insightful and comprehensive than feedback left on dedicated trading platforms (again, thinking eBay).

On WatchCharts, we make it easy for you to quickly check the feedback that has been given and received by users across popular watch trading forums. We call it RepCheck.

The Best Trading Forums

So what are the best trading forums, exactly? In this post we’ll be comparing Reddit WatchExchange, Watchuseek Forums, and RolexForums.

Forum popularity by posts per month, past 5 years

The graph above compares sales listing activity on Reddit WatchExchange, Watchuseek Forums, and RolexForums over the past 5 years. We can see that all three have comparable levels of activity as of the time of this writing. However, Reddit WatchExchange has been consistently growing in activity, while RolexForums and Watchuseek have remained more stagnant.

The forums are also quite different in terms of price point. Reddit and Watchuseek are relatively comparable, with the price of a typical watch listed being around $1,000 to $3,000. RolexForums, as the name implies, has greater volume of Rolex transactions, naturally raising the typical asking price beyond $10,000.

ForumUser CountAverage Watch Price
Reddit WatchExchange110,000~$1,400
Watchuseek Forums430,000~$2,200
RolexForums250,000~$12,600
Average prices of watches listed on each forum, in the past year

Next, we’ll cover each trading forum in more detail, and share some quick things to know if you’re going to be dealing on each forum.

Reddit WatchExchange

Reddit WatchExchange is the newest watch trading community that is gaining ground among collectors. It features a relatively younger demographic, the lowest barrier to entry, and the most modern and versatile platform.

The only requirements to sell on r/WatchExchange are an account that is at least 30 days old and positive karma. The positive karma should not be a problem, as every new account starts out with 1 karma. You’ll get more karma when other users upvote your posts and comments. You can also lose karma – potentially putting you in the negative – if you get downvoted.

Another thing to note is that Reddit WatchExchange doesn’t behave the same as a traditional forum. There’s no concept of “bumping” to get your posts back up to the top of the forum. Instead, the posts are sorted by popularity or creation date, which is determined based on the number of upvotes and downvotes. To work around this, WatchExchange allows you to repost your listings once per week, but that’s a fair bit more work than bumping.

As a buyer, one of the biggest advantages of Reddit WatchExchange is that every listing must include a “timestamp” – a photo showing a hand-written note with the date, the seller’s username, and the watch for sale. This proves that the seller actually has the watch in their possession. This is not required on Watchuseek Forums or RolexForums.

Reddit also has a fully featured mobile app (App Store, Google Play) that lets you browse WatchExchange and reply to inquiries on the fly. The website also features a ton of other communities focusing on anything from sneakers, headphones, or even just sharing cool photos. Personally, it’s one of the social media platforms that I use the most, and the main place I go to buy and sell.

Watchuseek Forums

Watchuseek is the world’s most popular dedicated watch forum, and also the one with the most trading activity that we’ve tracked. The watches on Watchuseek are generally priced comparably with WatchExchange, although overall a bit higher. The forum is hosted using vBulletin, an old-school yet functional platform.

The requirements to sell on the Watchuseek forums are a bit more stringent than WatchExchange. Accounts must be registered for at least 90 days, and also have 100 posts elsewhere on the forum. That gives you plenty of time to make those posts, as Watchuseek doesn’t want users spamming the forums to boost their post count.

While Watchuseek doesn’t have a dedicated mobile application, it is integrated with Tapatalk (App Store, Google Play), a mobile app for hosting forums. From there, you’ll have access to functionality that is mostly comparable to the desktop website.

RolexForums

Functionally, RolexForums is nearly identical to Watchuseek. It is also an old-school forum that runs on vBulletin but supports mobile integration with Tapatalk. The main difference is in the type of user that browses the forums. As mentioned above, the watches sold on RolexForums tend to be a lot more expensive, so you might have tougher luck selling your more affordable pieces. There’s also an obvious bias towards Rolex watches.

RolexForums also has the highest barrier to entry out of the three forums we’ve talked about. In order to sell, you must become a pledge member by making an annual donation to RolexForums. In 2020, the contribution amount was set to a minimum of $30. There’s also a limitation of one bump every 48 hours.

For serious sellers, the $30 annual contribution is not a big deal, especially if they enjoy the community and would likely donate anyways. Furthermore, when dealing watches regularly priced at $10,000 or more, having a higher barrier to entry makes sense to discourage scammers or lackadaisical sellers. However, I would definitely recommend starting out with Reddit WatchExchange or Watchuseek first if you are new to selling.

As a buyer, there are a ton of highly reputable sellers that list watches very frequently on RolexForums, so you have a good chance of finding what you’re looking for – as long as it’s Rolex or another mainstream luxury brand. You can see the top sellers across all three forums, updated daily, through our RepCheck leaderboards.

Honorable Mentions

Finally, there are some less active and more niche communities that I’ll highlight very quickly.

  • OmegaForums.net – not super active with around 10 or so watches listed for sale each day, but probably not a bad choice if you’re looking to buy or sell an Omega specifically.
  • Paneristi Forums – Same thing as OmegaForums, but with a focus on Panerai instead.
  • Vintage Rolex Forum – Quite active in trading Rolex watches, similar to RolexForums. I’ve only just recently come across this community, but it seems decently popular with over 200,000 sales posted.
  • UhrForum – A popular forum for German watch enthusiasts.

Overall, my recommendation would be to use WatchExchange or Watchuseek if you’re a relatively new seller, or RolexForums if you’re wanting to deal in more expensive watches. As a buyer, these communities should all be solid as there aren’t any requirements for buying (as far as I know). Maybe consider one of the brand-focused communities if you’re interested in a watch from that particular brand.

It’s not uncommon that buyers and sellers will be active on multiple platforms. If this is the case, you can link your WatchExchange, Watchuseek, or RolexForums accounts to your WatchCharts account. This allows you share your trading feedback aggregated between all three communities using RepCheck.

What have your past watch trading experiences been like? Do you prefer forums over dedicated platforms like eBay and Chrono24? What other forums did I miss? Join the discussion and let me know!

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