How To Safely Complete An International Watch Deal

Recently I completed an international deal to Germany, and I wanted to take this opportunity to walk you through the process so you can stay safe and know when to walk away.

Why did I do this?

The watch I was selling was a US-only release Panerai 1323 Navy Seals, and my buyer in Germany was a collector willing to pay a steep premium for it over what US buyers were paying (10% more net to me).


But that meant I’d have to safely pull off an international deal.

Here’s how I did that so you can follow the steps on your own:

Before any international deal, 3 key questions NEED to be answered

  1.  Are you shipping to someone you can trust? My watch sold on eBay so I had the buyer’s name, address, and contact info. I’m a little tech savvy so via Google I was actually able to look up his business on Dun and Bradstreet and saw he was a business owner in Berlin. I looked up his house in Berlin was worth around 1 million so his lifestyle matched someone spending 15k on a Panerai from me. Also, the way he communicated with me put me at ease because he negotiated a little bit but truly talked to me like a real collector or enthusiast. You’ll know what this looks like when you see it.
  2. Do you trust the money from the country? When your money is involved you choose your level of prejudice. Better safe than sorry. Currently, I am only comfortable getting paid by countries with modern and robust banking systems. For the most part that means Canada, Western Europe, and Australia to me. Why? You would be surprised how long international wires take to clear, and the money can always be charged back if it is fraudulent. Perhaps an extreme example, but I’ve heard of wires from Malaysia being pulled back a month after a deal was done. Yes, being paid in crypto CAN solve this problem but that is a discussion for a different article (and also makes point #1 more important).
  3. Can you even ship with insurance to the location? When you go to make the shipping label IFS will show you what amounts are insured per country in a drop-down menu. You might be surprised by how high or low the insurance limits are for countries you know. But even if a country has a high insurance amount, take #2 into account. In my case, Germany is capped at 25k and this was a 12k deal.

Bonus: if IFS (WTA’s preferred shipper) can’t insure it or doesn’t insure it high enough, you can try Parcel Pro, which may or may not have higher insurance coverage in that country via UPS. Otherwise, you’ll have to upgrade to very high-end armored/security shipping services. Again, that’s a different article. If you’re at that level, chances are you already know a high-end dealer or watchmaker you could ask for a recommendation.


If the deal does not look good for ALL 3 previous points. Walk away.

It’s not worth the risk and you should focus on selling within the US.

You can call IFS and have them walk you through the entire shipping label, but I’ll summarize as best as I can.


  1. When you select a country like Germany, you’ll notice “State” is still a required text box. You’ll have to contact IFS to see what code/name to put. In this case, the “state” is designated as “BE” for Berlin.
  2. You will need the buyer’s name, address, phone number, and email.
  3. For packaging type you’ll have to select your own packaging even when using an express FedEx box, look up the length x width x height of the box and round up. For example, a Fedex M2 box is listed as 8 3/4 x 4 3/8 x 11 1/4 on the Fedex website so for the label, I put 9 x 5 x 12 respectively.
  4. With an international listing, you’ll see this section that needs to be filled out


Here’s how I filled that out for a Panerai 1323 Navy Seal

Make sure you select “Bill Recipient” for duties and taxes paid and make sure your buyer is 100% aware of exactly how much he’ll need to pay to receive the watch. There are import and duty tax calculators online that are easy to find, you’ll need the HTS number “9101210000”

There is also this IFS section to fill out

Your options are Commercial, Sample, and Repair & Return

If you’re selling a watch, the answer is Commercial. Some buyers may request you select “Repair & Return.” They are saying this to avoid or pay fewer taxes upon delivery by claiming the shipment is a returned watch from repair and not one that was bought commercially. This would be a lie. Some people choose to take on this risk and if a problem occurs, it’s the buyer’s problem — but now refer back to #1 and #2 about trusting the country’s money. Is the buyer or his bank able to do a chargeback? Can you or your buyer handle delays if the watch get seized and held? Keep in mind International wires can take 5 business days or longer to clear. I choose to fill out this label accurately and not dodge taxes for clients.

My shipping label ended up being around 200 dollars for express insured shipping to Germany with an adult signature. I’d expect it to be similar to the rest of Western Europe. It’s pretty quick as it took only a few business days to arrive and clear customs. In my experience, IFS was highly communicative with me and FedEx to keep the package pushing through customs. I will add it seemed the information I was seeing was one day delayed whenever I was asked to communicate something to my client, so don’t panic if this happens to you. For example, I was warned my buyer needed to pay duty and taxes, and that was the hold-up but he told me he already paid 48 hours ago. But what was happening was just processing/transaction time differences–keep in mind different countries have bank holidays and different attitudes towards fast and efficient business. This again ties into my original point #1: do you know who you’re doing business with when such issues arise?


For the actual packaging and shipping, there are just a few extra steps:

Like normal, print two shipping labels to put outside and inside the FedEx box.

It isn’t mandatory, but it can only help you to download what’s called the Watch Worksheet. This will take a bit of research to fill out, and you need to fill out the info as accurately as possible–it’s okay to leave blanks. Trust me, finish this before you arrive at Fedex as it will take some time, you will be googling information on the web. Print out 3 filled-out copies of this Watch Worksheet. Finally, when you get to Fedex, let them know it’s an international shipment, so you need an international shipping sleeve/jacket. For an international deal, I wouldn’t attach the label and worksheets to your package yourself at home, let Fedex put it in a special sleeve.  IFS has the Watch Worksheet PDF and other documents on their website under “documents” when you log into your account.


If you run into any hiccups, call IFS after 9am PST and have them walk you through it.

I hope you found this helpful. Good luck, protect yourself and your wallet at all times.

If you’re looking to take your watch trading to the next level, you can book a strategy call with me here:

Mohi Ahmed

Watch Trading Academy Client Success Advisor

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