Negotiating… It’s a part of life. We all want what’s best for ourselves, but we can’t always get that unless we’re able to convince the other person we’re working with to give us what we want.
When it comes to watch trading, being a good negotiator can be the difference between paying too much for a watch and scoring a killer deal.
Although not every interaction will require you to negotiate to get the watches you want to trade at target price, more often than not it will.
There are a few key things to consider when negotiating that will help you get watches at lower prices.
- Using market data & watch condition to leverage price
- Using seller emotions to leverage price
- Determining your BATNA
- Know your seller
When you’re looking to get a watch from a seller at target price, it can seem daunting. Especially if you know the target price is way lower than the asking price listed. Don’t fear though. Knowing more about your seller and the watch they’re selling will help you make a compelling offer even if it’s much lower than they were hoping for.
- Use market data and the condition of the watch to get a lower price. If you see in the listing description or pictures that there is something wrong with the watch, or that there are minor imperfections, you can use these as negotiating points. For example, say you see that the watch has a few scuffs on the bezel or bracelet. You can let the seller know that you’d like to get the watch polished as there are imperfections and that’s why you’re making an offer $X. You can say things like you’ll want to get a new strap for the watch. This doesn’t mean you actually will go out and buy a $500 strap for the watch, but it’s a way to have the buyer come to an understanding with you on why they should drop price. I’ve provided some sample images below of a listing that would potentially work for this type of negotiation. You’ll see the seller mentions minor scuffs on the bracelet. Any mention in these descriptions or images should be a signal for you that the watch may be a good one to go after to negotiate price. It also helps that this specific listing has an office contact included. This is another opportunity for you to call the seller directly and negotiate price further by avoiding eBay fees. You have to learn to get good at looking for any opportunity possible that would allow you to buy for lower than what is listed.
The other way to do this is by looking at other comps on the market. In our specific example here, don’t just look at other orange bezel Seamaster Planet Oceans. Look at black bezel options too. You’re going to see what is available on the market on eBay and Chrono24 specifically to communicate to the seller that you have other options. If for example, there are no boxes and papers with their watch use that as leverage.
For example, I may send the seller a message that sounds like this: “Hello, I really like your watch. I was looking at some other Omega Seamaster Planet Oceans that were more complete but I like yours if we can make the price work. Would you do $2,000 for it net to you?”
This signals to the seller you know the market and have other options so aren’t desperate for their watch. It also says “net to you” which should be a signal to the seller you want to save them fees. By knowing what other options are available on the market you can come prepared to let the seller know that your offer is not a crazy low-ball offer but in fact reasonable and it’s worth working with you more than other flaky buyers.
- Use seller emotions to negotiate price. This won’t be possible every time you negotiate. But there will be times when it will happen and it will make it very lucrative for you. If you learn something about the seller, and why they are selling their watch you can use that to your advantage. For example, if they are liquidating their collection because they are going through a divorce, that need for immediate funds can be a huge advantage for you. Obviously it’s not fun to want to benefit from other’s issues, but that’s not the point. You have to be unemotional and understand you’re actually doing them a service by offering to get them the money they need. If you make an offer higher than a jeweler would, than you are actually adding value AND getting a great deal on the watch. So, sometimes when you are asking the seller why they are letting the watch go, and you learn more about them, you will be able to use those emotions to work on price and play into their needs. Don’t be afraid to ask prying questions. If they don’t want to share anything with you, that’s okay and their prerogative. But you will find that if you investigate and ask enough, you will find some great deals because you can use that emotional need of theirs and play into it when buying.
- Determining your BATNA. If you don’t know what BATNA stands for, it’s Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. A BATNA is a number you agree to in your head as the number you are willing to go up to when negotiating a watch. So for example, let’s say you see a Rolex Submariner Date Ceramic model listed at $10,500. And let’s say you know that target price for one is $7,000. You know that they are in-demand watches, and that you can probably make an easy profit on one, so you’re willing to pay up to $8,000 for one that is a complete set. That $8,000 number is your BATNA. It’s not where you start the negotiated price. It’s where you’re willing to go up to. If you can determine this before you start the negotiations, it puts you in a powerful position. It gives you a game plan, and it ensures you stay disciplined when trying to make a deal. Sometimes when people are in the heat of the negotiation, they get emotional, and that’s when they pay too much. By having a BATNA in place, you can still make the deal a “win” if you’re paying more than target price, and also make it feel like a win for the seller. Best part is, if the seller just won’t get to your BATNA number, you know it’s best to walk away from the deal or try again later. By remaining disciplined, you will do much better buying watches that are only at a price worth holding them in your inventory at.
- Know what type of seller you’re dealing with. There are dealers, wholesalers, private sellers, regular people. You can often tell what type of seller you’re dealing with if you’re looking on eBay/Chrono24/forums if you do a little investigating. If you check out their other inventory for sale, you can see if they are selling many watches, other nice items, or nothing. By taking the time to understand what type of seller you’re dealing with, you can play into how to approach them to buy watches at target price.
Sometimes you can even save yourself a headache by not wasting time with sellers who will probably never give you what you want. For example, if you see the person who is selling a very in-demand Rolex also sells 500 other timepieces, then it’s probably not worth your time trying to get that watch at a wholesale price. Why would a dealer ever let go of inventory that moves full retail price quick to someone for much less? It doesn’t make sense, so you shouldn’t waste your time. That’s not to say that buying from dealers isn’t viable. It can be a great way to buy if you know how they operate. They like people who want to buy their inventory they don’t like sitting on, and people who are willing to buy multiple watches at once (bundle deals). So knowing that that’s your type of seller will help you approach the deal more intelligently.
If you’re negotiating with a private seller, that tends to be a different type of conversation, and the goal is to get them to trust you and prove to them selling to you is better than dealing with other buyers who are tire kickers or jewelers who will pay them much less.
By knowing more about your seller, you’re much more likely to succeed at getting a watch at target price or better. Below are some examples of negotiations I had with sellers. The Ulysse Nardin Freak was a huge discount I got working with a dealer. The Hublot and the Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer were both private sellers. For these case studies in detail, and sample scripts I use to get people down like this, check out the Knight Watch Advanced Trading Course which is part of the Watch Trading Academy curriculum.