How to Sell Broken Watches

By Rob Wagner
Selling broken watches is easy and can be profitable.

The increasing interest and rising prices of vintage and contemporary pre-owned watches as men’s fashion accessories has created a huge demand for used watch parts. Internal parts from vintage watches that are no longer manufactured by the original watchmaker, such as Waltham, Bulova, Cyma and Gruen, are sought for by collectors to keep their own watches running. New parts for mechanical movements, which is the spring-loaded mechanism that runs the watch, may be available, but parts for more obscure brands may only be available by purchasing broken models.

Determine what type of broken watches you have in your inventory. Mechanical manual wind and automatic watch parts are highly sought out, but battery-powered quartz versions, which began to appear in the early 1970s, do not command the same value as older watches. However, keep in mind that the hands, dial, and bezel (which keeps the crystal, or glass, in place) could add value to any broken watch. Broken 18k gold watches can be sold as scrap for their weight in gold.

Research prices at online auction websites and from vintage watch price guides, along with prices at brick and mortar shops. You should understand differences in price such as that a Helbros watch, which was sold as a low-end watch in the mid 20th century, will only have a fraction of the value of a high-end Omega.

Open a seller’s account at an online auction website, and set up your payment accounts to receive payment for items you sell. Ensure that when you place your broken watch up for auction, you disclose as many details of the watch as you can and also provide what you think is the reason why it’s broken. Auction your broken watches “as is” so buyers understand they are purchasing a faulty watch.

Sell the entire broken watch. Don’t sell only parts. There is little profit in selling a mainspring, hands, or a wheel as separate items. Buyers prefer broken watches they can repair or dismantle for parts.

Visit online watch sellers. Some sellers specialize in purchasing broken watches. Fill out the online form about details of your watch in order to get an appraisal. Most online sellers will pay for shipping.

Visit brick and mortar vintage watch shops' vintage watch fairs. Watchmakers need broken watches for vintage parts. Avoid pawn shops. They pay bottom dollar and sometimes pay only for the watch’s weight in gold..

Tip

The watch you are selling may be broken, but pre-1970s luxury brands, such as Rolex, Omega. and Breitling command top dollar. A Rolex with a cracked crystal or broken spring can sell for more than $1,000.

Warning

Make sure your broken watch is really broken. The parts might only be dirty and need cleaning or the battery may be dead.There is no sense in selling a “broken” watch for $50 when it may only need servicing and could be sold for $400.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.