How to sell a Speedmaster

How To Sell Your Speedmaster

If you have stumbled across an old speedmaster in your attic or inherited it from a family member and wish to sell it, then if you are unsure of what to do, this page is for you.


Some of these Speedmasters are very, very valuable, and there are people who will take advantage of any lack of knowledge or commercial experience on your part to buy your watch at an almost theft level price. I disapprove of this, so I write this page to guide you.

Obviously we need, firstly, to identify the reference – then ascertain the condition. I can help you do that, just contact me through the form and I will get back to you with an email address to send photos. (I cannot put my address on a public website as bots pick it up, and I get loads of spam).

In today’s internet age, it is perfectly possible for a confident, and savvy person to independently sell a watch – but there are dangers and pitfalls to doing it all by yourself.

You might, for example:

  • Misidentify the watch, and undersell it
  • End up with a non-paying buyer and have to re offer it
  • Be scammed out of the watch entirely.
  • Realise a lower than expected price at auction.
  • Over price the watch, fail to sell it, and overexpose it to the market.(Making it unsalable)

Here are some tips if you want to do it yourself. Otherwise sell it to me!

Bricks and Mortar (B&M) Auction Houses, for example:

  • Sothebys
  • Christies
  • Phillips
  • Bonhams
  • Antiquorum

If you read the Terms and Conditions of these companies, you will see that a private buyer might be charged as much as 32% out of the total sale. Even a high volume trader will lose 25% to the house. So to make it worthwhile, your watch will have to be a flyer – possibly one with uncertain value, that captures the imagination of two or more bidders, so that bidding becomes competitive and frantic. This is rare, but when it happens, it is very exiting. As of today, (November 2022) this is unlikely for speedmasters due to the current state of the market.

To put it into bare figures:

A watch is bid to $10,000 at auction. The house then charges a hammer premium of $2500, making a total sale of $12,500. The seller, if private, will be charged as much as $1200 (6% though this is negotiable). So the seller of a $12,500 watch will receive $8800.

Sometimes this margin is justified. But unless you have something special, and two bidders lose their minds, it is unlikely to be the best scenario except in some rare cases, which when the conditions are perfect, will give spectacular results.

County/Local Auction houses

These houses charge lower commissions, sometimes, but have much lower exposure or public awareness. Fellows has been trying to elevate itself with watches, but the contents of the sales are largely uninteresting, with the occasional gem. McTears in Scotland is also useful. Personally, I do not use these smaller houses to sell anything. As an aside, there are some unscrupulous dealers who assemble a watch, make it look dirty and unloved, and get a friend to put it into one of these small houses, hoping it will be mistaken for a “barn find” or estate watch. Muppets.


eBay is now an AWFUL place to sell a watch, both for the inexperienced and for those of us who have used eBay from the very start. eBay has systems that heavily favour a dishonest buyer. The dispute system at eBay will almost always find against a seller, even when the buyer is blatantly dishonest. Trying to deal with Ebay is a maze of computer responses and unanswered calls.

Buyers can claim non receipt of the watch (even with a signature they claim “empty  box”) and in every instance eBay will find in the buyer’s favour and take the money from your account. You will also be inundated with stupid requests and questions from humans whose genes will be lucky to make it through the next two rounds.  Last issue is that the PayPal/eBay payments system is expensive.

That said, a well presented eBay listing can get good prices. This often happens when the story and presentation appear genuine, private, and the watch is demonstrably original, presented with history. To do this most effectively, I suggest a .99 start auction. There will be fees, and dangers, but properly managed an eBay auction used to be more effective than a B&M auction. Where it fails to be an option is the ludicrous 90 day return policy and eBay will always side with the buyers in a dispute. I cannot recommend ebay now, except for disposal sales of parts.

Forum Sale

If you are a member of you can use the private sales forum. You have to be a member of good standing with over 200 posts. This is a very effective way of reaching out to knowledgable collectors who have a known history on the web, and often thousands of written words written by them, so you can judge their character, and see if when they contact you, you like the sound of them. If you do not have a history of 200 posts, you cannot sell. And don’t make your first post a “Hey guys I want to sell my watch, any suggestions?” as that will bring out the howlers who are fed up with what we call fly-by sellers. That is, people who come along just to sell a watch – the forum is a community of like-minded people, with a sales forum attached. eBay is a sales forum, with a small community attached.

Private Sale

On to the private sale. This is the best, as you will receive the full amount, and also the buyer will contact direct with you.

From my perspective, some wonderful people.  I have met a Climate change professor, a Mid-West American School teacher (who absolutely was the best negotiator ever) a NASA rocket scientist, a Vietnam War veteran, a Sheriff – I could go on. My point is that connecting a buyer to a seller direct is satisfying and much more fulfilling for all involved. Often the watch still has some sentimental value, and knowing it is going into a collection, is a happier feeling than handing to a dealer, knowing that the dealer is simply going to make money out of Grandpa’s watch.

To make a private sale, you still have to set a price. And often negotiate, or not. Then arrange payment and delivery. Recently, for example, I sold a watch in Singapore, and that has challenges in logistics.

Sell your watch to me!

I am a strong buyer for a one owner, or family owned watch, and will often over pay for these compared to a similar watch held by a dealer or collector.
I will buy a watch from a collector or any other source, but I will pay about 20% less than so-called market value for something that is easily comparable on Chrono 24 or other dealers listings. I will set a price on any calibre 861 or 321 speedmaster.