Some Personal Advice: Why I Abhor Chrono24 and Similar Websites and Why You Need To Be Very Careful

Jan 23, 2021,14:26 PM

The internet has certainly made the world a better place.  But for some, it's made it a worse place.  Slander on social media is widespread and there are devastating consequences where lives are genuinely ruined.  While I hope we never encounter that, many of our readers have come to me with unhappy experiences they've encountered.  Unfortunately, many of my readers and members of WatchProSite have encountered fraud or misrepresentations.  Here's a recent misrepresentation that I found on my own that I felt was quite awful. 

This is a listing of a Cartier Tortue on Chrono24, a major watch listing site.  On this listing platform, you can buy watches from individuals, dealers, and even Chrono24 themselves!  Notice, this watch is listed by Chrono24 and one of the advantages of purchasing directly from Chrono24 include "watches inspected by experts."  Remember, the legal term "experts" is very vague, and experts get things wrong all the time! 

This is the correct case back of a Cartier Tortue. 

This is not the correct strap nor buckle for a Cartier watch. If you were a prospective buyer here and didn’t know this fact you would’ve been fooled. Even if you knew this was the wrong buckle and just didn’t notice this was the wrong buckle, you would’ve been fooled.  The seller claims they have an "authenticity guarantee" and that their watches are "inspected by experts" well...  Well, despite their authenticity guarantee and so called experts, this buckle is definitely not authentic Cartier.  Low standards here! 

Wait a minute, I thought this watch came with a transparent caseback, why am I even being shown a solid case back? Does this watch come with two backs? I'm confused!

Notice this caseback is totally incorrect. It even says ”Audemars Piguet" and we’re looking at a Cartier. No, this does not mean Audemars Piguet makes the Cartier Tortue for Cartier.  This is just a clumsy photo that was attached to this listing incorrectly.  Imagine if they can be so clumsy to include the wrong photo, how clumsy they are in other things!  No confidence here! 

The description states this watch comes with original box and no papers. Why are there papers shown? This is a generic photo, that’s why. Notice the watch isn’t anywhere in these photos.  Look for continuity in photos, something that would suggest all the photos were taken at the same time at the same place for the same watch. 

This watch is being sold by Chrono24 Germany themselves! Yikes!

I want to be objective here and point out that Chrono24 is not the only website nor seller of poorly represented watches.  So let's not assume all watches retailed on the Chrono24 platform nor by Chrono24 as the seller are necessarily bad watches.  But many watches on these kinds of websites and Classifieds forums look very questionable.  Generic photos are a big problem.  Also, notice that there is no space for individuals to comment nor ask questions on the page.  Because if there were such spaces, many individuals who are searching for a watch like this would comment that something doesn't look right and this would scare away other potential buyers. 

I also want to say that unfortunately many WatchProSite members whom are long-time watch collectors who are very discerning sometime still get tricked. 

These fraudulent sellers operate on the mantra:
1.  You can fool some of the people all the time. 
2.  You can fool all of the people some of the time. 
3.  You just can't fool all of the people all the time. 
And these fraudulent sellers can make a very tidy income on #1 and #2 and are very satisfied with just fooling a couple wealthy ignorant individuals a month. 

What can you do to protect yourself if you're a buyer? 

1.  Get an expert.  The word "expert" is loosely used, but generally an "expert" is someone who should be liable for bad practice.  A doctor or lawyer is liable for bad practice and if it's proven that they acted in gross negligence, they would potentially lose their license.  Unfortunately a watch "expert" doesn't have a license they will loose, but try to find someone who is as much of an expert as possible.  Sometimes watches are represented by a genuine expert, keep in mind that even the best experts are biased if it's their own watch, because the temptation to make money is just too great.  Don't put yourself in a position where your expert has a conflict of interest. 

2.  Buy from a reputable dealer.  Now, every reputable dealer has made a mistake every now and then.  And I really dislike "fanboys" who say "this dealer can do no wrong."  It's just that they haven't experienced anything wrong yet.  It's like those who say "Singapore Airlines is the best airline, I fly them often, and they've always been good" to which I respond "you just haven't experienced a situation where they truly did a poor job yet."  So buy from a reputable dealer, but remember even those reputable dealers can make a mistake. 

3.  Buy a new watch from an authorized dealer or boutique.  Generally a mistake isn't made here.  If you buy a new Cartier at the Cartier boutique, you're going to get what you paid for.  Of course, inspect the example you're going to receive to make sure there are no scratches.  Some stores offer a return policy, so make sure you get one that wasn't repolished because it was damaged and then returned. 

4.  Be extremely careful buying vintage.  There are so many tricks in vintage watches that I've just started to entirely avoid it.  I've seen so many friends fooled with vintage Rolex that I've lost all the appeal.  I've seen a lot of big executives buy vintage watches entirely based on the reputation of the dealer advertising it as a perfect and all original watch.  These big executives are always very busy and since they were referred to this dealer by people whom they assume are very knowledgeable, they don't hire an expert to do due diligence on the watch.  I sometimes am shown watches by friends that were advertised as "perfect" or "original dial" or "unpolished" which are exactly the opposite of what they are.  I tell these friends, in business you hire analysts and consultants to review any big business dealings.  Why wouldn't you take similar precautions on buying something you're somewhat ignorant about?  The answer is always "I was referred by another friend whom I assumed was an expert on the subject so I trusted his opinion."  

5.  Look for photo continuity.  Ask for multiple photos.  If the photographs don't have photo continuity, that could be a problem.  For instance, if the background changes on every photo and you see a generic photos of box and pape but no watch that may mean that it's not the same box for that watch.  If a watch is advertised as "Like New" I wouldn't be surprised if the seller uses stock photos, but a serious buyer can still ask for photos of the watch, box, papers, etc. just to confirm that all the papers they're expecting are there and that the correct box is provided. 

6.  Be humble.  We're all more naive then we realize.  If you don't know what you're doing, you need to realize this.  Most people don't know what they don't know.  It's important to be aware that when you're doing something that involves large amounts of money that there are scenarios you and I cannot imagine where you'll be tricked.  Consult an expert who has a lot of experience, pay them if you have to, it's cheap tuition that can save you thousands of dollars.  

7.  Look for investment.  This doesn't always work, because many unscrupulous sellers will invest heavily in building a beautiful website.  Is the seller heavily invested in his/her own reputation?  Look for a time investment, did the seller invest a lot of time to develop their client book and craft?  Or are they a new kid on the block with little invested in their reputation?  Easy entry and exit into the market isn't good, you want indications of permanence.  I've met several young college students who got into the business, one who seems to be extremely unknowledgeable and yet peddles watches with grandiose descriptions that are inaccurate exaggerations, I don't think he will last long in the business, he could be in it for the quick buck.  

8.  Understand psychology and have empathy.  Empathy is a great weapon to have.  Be humble here, do you really understand the word "empathy" in this context?  People misunderstand empathy, it's not to have sympathy for the seller.  That's what what I mean, not at all.  Understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.  Put yourself in the seller's shoes and have empathy for him/her.  Understand what motivates the seller, for most sellers, it's money. 

9.  Condition is very important on a watch.  Unfortunately, everyone has different standards for what is considered "MINT" condition.  Don't ask for opinions, ask for facts.  "This watch is in good condition" is an opinion.  "This watch has zero scratches on the sapphire crystal" is a fact.  Deal in facts, not opinions.  A judge and jury in a courthouse is not going to be able to determine if the seller misrepresented a "MINT" condition watch.  But a judge/jury can much more easily determine the facts. 

10.  I save the most important for last...  DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.  One of the first things they teach in a MBA program (probably any graduate school program) is to not make assumptions and to realize it when you make an assumption and question yourself.  DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.  Rarely make presumptions.  Always ask for facts and evidence.  Make sure you know the difference between assumptions and presumptions (the English language is very precise), don't assume that you know the difference! 

As a moderator at WatchProSite for many years, I've seen many individuals who have been scammed.  Both sellers and buyers.  You have to be very careful.  Many have even be scammed by big auction houses!  Reputable dealers!  And more.  All of these establishments are very happy to go through a "churn" (Churn is a measurement of the percentage of accounts that do not continue to do business after a time period, usually a 12 to 36 month time period starting from the first month a transaction was first started) of new ignorant buyers.  These establishments prey on your ignorance! 

CAVEAT EMPTOR my readers!  Buyer beware!  CAVEAT VENDITOR!  Sellers beware too! 

Please comment.  As always, I read all of your comments and I'll try to answer all of your questions! 

  login to reply

Comments: view entire thread


Good info, thank you.

 By: NautNut : January 23rd, 2021-14:35

Thanks for the info. Obviously these types of postings are everywhere. In fairness I've never had nothing but

 By: Hulk : January 23rd, 2021-15:05
Positive experience with C24. Unlike ebay. In c24 you buy the watch, it's paid into the c24 escrow account. You receive the watch from the seller and have 14 days to have the watch checked out. Then you give the go ahead to c24 to release the funds to the... 

I'm glad that you had a positive experience with C24!

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-15:20
I'm sure there are many positive experiences on C24 and this article was definitely not to disparage C24. But it's important that we are always careful and that we know what we are doing. As you mentioned before, many people have been tricked by good fake... 


 By: MTR : January 23rd, 2021-15:42
After ordering you send the money to an escrow account at C24. BUT my information is that the money is paid out upon delivery. Then you have 14 days to check the watch and report a problem. Be aware that the money already has been transferred to the selle... 

Than it is worthless

 By: Gelato Monster : January 23rd, 2021-19:09


 By: NoH : January 24th, 2021-06:44
Money is paid out on delivery, and when the delivery is confirmed by the courier, not the buyer. I recently purchased a Rolex Datejust for my wife via C24 (great experience from the AD whom I had several phone calls and email exchanges with - including lo... 

These are exactly the cases I fear, dear Niall!

 By: MTR : January 24th, 2021-08:50
Thank you for your experience report. At the end you were very lucky. Thank God I haven't had any negative experiences yet. But I had read the terms and conditions carefully before placing my first order on C24. And then I immediately noticed this procedu... 

Let's say a good percentage of C24 transactions that happen are safe, but probably not a small percentage are not safe...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:34
The good thing is that many buyers are really overestimating their ability to tell if what they're buying is good or bad. So even the transactions where a bad seller sells a bad watch, the buyer may not really notice.

Very wise words!

 By: MTR : January 24th, 2021-13:34

A lot of contract wording may be written intentionally vaguely to make people assume the definition of the contract...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:32
Then in court, C24's lawyers simply indicate that the buyer made an incorrect assumption and that the contract is meant to be interpreted the following way... Etc. And then the client realizes that it's just a lot of marketing that leads you to believe so... 

I am afraid

 By: MTR : January 24th, 2021-13:43
you are right... I love to wear my watches and don‘t see them primarily as an investment object. But of course I don’t want to be cheated either. I hope that the expertise of my AD (Bucherer, they have very competent, committed watchmakers there, as far a... 

The AD is one thing, the individual is the weak link...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-23:19
The company BUCHERER has a good operations protocol standard. The question is if the employee follows it. It can be a great company, but you can get a bad employee.

For sure! And if the employee is bad / incompetent,

 By: MTR : January 25th, 2021-03:05
the chances that I won't realize that are rather high! 😎 Best Thomas

Depends how you define "bad/incompetent" as I think they're all bad...

 By: patrick_y : January 25th, 2021-10:54
It's like airlines, they're all bad. Banks, they're all bad. The problem is that we don't have alternatives. I recently met a saleswoman who knew very little, and in fact she knew some things that were incorrect. She wasn't very good. But she wasn't offen... 

This was the first watch I saw today on Chrono24!

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-15:26
Today, I logged on, put in a specific search term, and this was the first watch I clicked on! So just a coincidence. Not all posts on Chrono24 are this bad, some are better, some are worse. The bad posts are far from rare. I even saw two exact identical p... 

Thanks! I go there very often too, but im not bold enough to buy something. Always go to the Ad.

 By: Reuven Malter : January 24th, 2021-03:27
There are a few pieces i missed in the past though. I will not buy them now on C24 - They are just a reminder to buy everything i like once i get the call from the ad.

Thanks for a very good post Patrick! Along with many decent people that populate the Internet (and the real world), unfortunately the small percentage of those who are either incompetent or downright criminal is always, potentially, around the corner.

 By: FabR : January 23rd, 2021-15:22
I'm sure this specific C24 ad was made out of (an incredible amount of) incompetence rather than bad faith. But still, since the end result is very similar for a buyer, even one of the mistakes made in that ad is entirely unacceptable on a reputable platf... 

A wonderful response!

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-15:57
Thank you FabR! I agree, this ad is just pure incompetence and low standards. While there's no mens rea (criminal intent) it is definitely very incompetently done! I too am very much a follower of #3. Always buy new from an AD. I've only bought used watch... 

In my world (😊) I have made

 By: MTR : January 23rd, 2021-15:33
good experiences with C24 and have bought some watches there successfully. So far! But I always have the watches checked by my trusted AD. After ordering the money is in an escrow account at C24 and is only paid out upon delivery (they call it „trusted ch... 

Yes... My empathy for my AD would tell me that they wouldn't always be happy if I brought in a watch for verification...

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-16:10
I find that the whole transaction on C24 is just not fun. So I personally haven't done a transaction. And please note, I'm not criticizing the operations of C24, I'm just criticizing this specific seller, who coincidentally happens to be C24 themselves (t... 

Great Post Patrick and all very valid points....

 By: SALMANQ8 : January 23rd, 2021-15:36
have to do our homework and due diligence when buying and selling, To Err is Human, and if such it can be forgiven but if intentionally done now thats where we have to draw the line always. S

Very true and very balanced!

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-16:15
Lots of lawsuits and torts in the watch world. I hear about them all the time! I hear of a few to several a year!

Great post Patrick! I often browse through watches on these sites including C24 but so far elected to buy all my watches new through AD...

 By: Chronometer (aka yacomino) : January 23rd, 2021-16:18
Every time I came close to buying used from the internet I wondered about getting scammed and decided it was not worth it. The only disadvantage of this approach it that I am “limited” in my watch collection from what the ADs I know carry or can get...but... 

I'd rather be limited than to be scammed...

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-16:21
Thank you for reading. For me, part of the fun is the purchase process and the hunt. Yes, buying off Chrono24 is convenient, and it gets you the watch... But sometimes you don't know what you're really getting!

Agreed. So far I was lucky to find ADs where the person I deal with is very passionate about horology in general and the brands they carry...

 By: Chronometer (aka yacomino) : January 23rd, 2021-16:29
While there are still a few brands that interest me and for which I don’t have a relationship to pursue, I am quite happy with the current rosters


 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-16:31
Most important part is to be happy, but not ignorantly happy.

You're welcome!

 By: patrick_y : January 23rd, 2021-16:32
That Cartier post didn't look too good to be true though... The price isn't too low for market. It's just a bad example.

eBay said they have authentication procedure for watche above $2k....

 By: Clueless_Collector : January 23rd, 2021-17:03
But when I see some of the fake Patek Philippe listings...I shake my head. They should first authenticate or prohibit the listing of fake watches in the first place and not waste people’s time. What if seller said they didn’t receive the watch or denied t... 

So far this eBay thing isn't working too well...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-00:59
Of course, the program manager is getting a big bonus because there's been some percentage increase in transactions and values, but overall, in my opinion, it's not working great. The problem is that the buyers and sellers on eBay haven't changed. It's st... 

If I were to buy the watch I would expect the extra AP caseback

 By: Brandon Skinner : January 23rd, 2021-17:07
Well spotted Patrick. Very recently I was asked by a friend to help source a Monaco for her husband for their 20th Anniversary. The watch I was able to find was on eBay, and eBay themselves were the seller. The watch came with something wrapped around the...  

Gee! That's criminal of eBay by my standards!

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-01:01
Sometimes you get what you pay for; this watch might've been attractively priced, but there were two screws bouncing around in the movement! You should write a review of that and post that here! Not a lot of our readers have bought on eBay to my knowledge... 

A longtime ago

 By: Weems@8 : January 24th, 2021-13:55
my father bought a Sigma camera lens at eBay. When it arrive, it doesn’t work on his Canon. Contacted the seller, and he said, ‘the lens worked fine on my camera’. So that was also the last time buying at eBay for ones and for all. In modern language eBay... 

Thank you so much Patrick

 By: Gelato Monster : January 23rd, 2021-19:13
You have reminded us. Hopefully none of Purist friends make such mistakes in future.

Chrono 24

 By: artp1085 : January 23rd, 2021-19:45
You certainly have to be wary about buying on the internet. On the other hand, I sold 2 watches on chrono 24 and both parties were pleased with no problems

That photo I will have to search

 By: Gelato Monster : January 24th, 2021-02:50
Here is an alternative Pistachio based Affogato 😁 ...  

Hmmm, I want one right now!

 By: amanico : January 24th, 2021-03:20

Looks delicious!

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:35
I don't drink coffee. The last time I had an affogato, at a dinner with friends, I woke up at 3AM, and couldn't go back to sleep! But that sure does look tasty!


 By: Weems@8 : January 24th, 2021-14:16
I drink to much coffee, but today i took only 5 cups. I can sleep, because my body is used to coffee. ...  

😅 5 would be too much for me

 By: Gelato Monster : January 25th, 2021-04:31

I actually sleep better after coffee

 By: Gelato Monster : January 25th, 2021-04:31
Maybe its a caffeine crash right after it wear off

Made my knees buckle

 By: NautNut : January 24th, 2021-14:03


 By: Gelato Monster : January 25th, 2021-04:29

One of the problems is that often we rely on the "stars" that the seller obtained

 By: hoseachandra : January 23rd, 2021-20:01
The so-called reviews by the previous buyers. Are we sure that those positive reviews are honest? Or the seller paid few people to make false comment/review? I don't know. Sometimes I read a very polarized reviews, that makes me confuse, is this dealer ca... 

You are absolutely right. Most reviews are worthless...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-01:09
An ignorant person who knows nothing writes a wonderful review. Value to me is worthless... Someone paid to write a nice review. Value to me is worthless... Not being able to determine which one is which... leaves me only to read the negative reviews...

True. I always read reviews, filtered or sorted from the negative first.

 By: hoseachandra : January 24th, 2021-01:58
If the negative reviews reach more than 20% of total review , I'd pass this seller.

I enjoyed this.

 By: Age_of_Surfaces : January 23rd, 2021-20:04
Fortunately, my experiences buying online have been largely positive to date. Where mistakes have occurred they've been corrected when I've pointed them out. For example, watches have been mailed to me without the factory warrantee or the outer box that w... 

Never ever had a problem buying through Chrono24. Period.

 By: wover : January 24th, 2021-01:03
But looking at pictures carefully and calling the dealer never hurt. It is easy to dismiss positive reviews, but who here actually had a problem with Chrono that wasn't solved? Wover

But the whole point we're trying to make is sometimes some people are so ignorant that they don't know they have a problem...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-01:18
I know someone who was not the most picky nor detailed person, and he buys things without too much scrutinization...


 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-01:15
I didn't want to go into such detail because then my article would be too long. But you're absolutely right!

I should have begun by responding to your article as it was intended, rather than jumping to my own account.

 By: Age_of_Surfaces : January 24th, 2021-03:42
I generally agree that some online postings can be slapdash. They can certainly give rise to questions about the consistent application of quality controls. It would be worth speaking with a C24 rep to ask about their experts (I haven’t seen C24 say much ... 

Not only sellers and buyers

 By: Weems@8 : January 24th, 2021-14:27
Border patrol, taxes, bureaucracy ruïnes a lot of buy fun. The reasons to buy a watch at an authorized dealer with a good record in service, an official brand boutique is always the best experience. Internet just only an information source. ch24 only an i... 

I tend to agree. Buying in-person, esp. from an independent authorised sales points, cannot be topped.

 By: Age_of_Surfaces : January 24th, 2021-19:32
The human relationship, supporting small businesses, etc. etc.... I have respect for brands that cultivate their authorised sales points. This includes the likes of Parmigiani Fleurier to Habring2. It cannot be said for others.

It really depends on the store for me... I only enjoy great sales associates and brand owners.

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-23:14
A lot of salespeople in stores are really tragically uninformed (can't tell the difference between a mainspring and a hairspring), not motivated and there for the paycheck, not knowledgeable ("this one has a micro rotor which is supposed to be very good")... 

Of course what you're describing is rare in every sense: both on the side of the merchant and the buyer.

 By: Age_of_Surfaces : January 25th, 2021-03:34
The best purchasing experiences I have ever had have ALL been in Dubai and Hong Kong. The efficiency, attentiveness, the quality of engagement, and the follow-up are simply without comparison from my experiences over three decades in Europe and north Amer... 

An informative post

 By: Uncle Chico : January 24th, 2021-01:39
The bottom line is there is just too much room for fraud and you're dealing with sellers who are not the source of the watch.

That's a good bottom line!

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:35
And where's the fun in getting something online from a questionable website that you have to worry so much about!

Very true.

 By: amanico : January 24th, 2021-13:34

Buy Certified Pre Owned from a manufacture...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:39
Urwerk and MB&F have great Certified Pre-Owned programs. But outside of these well defined and small scale Certified Pre Owned programs that are run by their manufacturers (and not a dealer), there's no real safety net. Auction houses are definitely known... 

And that's why no auction house stays on top forever...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-23:22
10 years ago it was Antiquorum that was on top. Then after that, it was Christies. Now it's Phillips. Nobody is able to maintain it all the time. And once you can't maintain it, you become desperate. You start cutting corners. Consigning sellers sometimes... 

Thank you for the detailed and informative post.

 By: quattro98 : January 24th, 2021-07:35
My small collection has mostly been from local ADs with a few pieces from sellers that have been on forums for many years. I wonder about vintage, but am satisfied with what I have. I don’t want to experience an outright fraud or disastrous transaction. I... 

Seems like you learned your lesson!

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:40
The risk outweighs the reward to me in most of these transactions...


 By: Weems@8 : January 24th, 2021-07:49
Chrono24 sell own watches by some of their specialist i saw. Sometime ago i had looked at a GP WW TC, offered by Chrono24 own sales. The advert said, watch in perfect condition, like new. The price was sharp, in my eyes the perfect first GP for me. And i ... 

I just try to buy new watches at ADs or Boutiques...

 By: patrick_y : January 24th, 2021-11:41
I have very rarely bought used watches, all of those watches are from friends, and I was even present when the friend bought them at the boutique on some of them!

I never bought used watches

 By: Weems@8 : January 24th, 2021-14:53
The stories are great behind used watches. A watch love started when i start to wear an used watch, but i do not bought it. I borrowed. New watches are so clean and new. I see them as trophies. Sure, an used watch can be also a trophy. Buying new is for m... 

This is a great post and perfect example.

 By: Geo : January 25th, 2021-04:40
These things happen at Chrono 24, but in general, my experience with the website is very good. What I have experienced was the fact that I bought and paid for a watch, but the seller returned the money and sold it to someone else, who offered more money. ... 

Of course Chrono24 doesn't want to help, it's not in their interest to do so...

 By: patrick_y : January 25th, 2021-10:32
The site of course would prefer to collect the bigger commission from the buyer willing to pay more. So despite the seller breaking the contract with you, the buyer, CHrono24 will do nothing as it is in their interest that the buyer sells the watch for mo... 

Thanks for sharing this Patrick

 By: singingbee : January 25th, 2021-21:58
Very useful for many collectors, especially for me as I was just looking for the same Cartier Tortue online and on C24 recently.

Haha I wasn’t looking at Octo Finissimo on C24

 By: singingbee : January 27th, 2021-00:36
But it is a watch which is in my wishlist.

The satin polished steel models

 By: singingbee : January 30th, 2021-19:17
I really like the black dial model and the recently announced silvered dial model.