As the market for pre-owned timepieces continues to grow, eBay is adding a new layer of security to its high-end watch sales.
This week, the online retail platform added third-party payment service Escrow to its marketplace for luxury watch sales over $10,000. The service is designed to protect payments until both buyer and seller are satisfied with a given transaction.
The four-step process begins during checkout where customers are redirected from eBay to Escrow.com. From there, both parties create an Escrow account through which payments can be sent and received. According to eBay, the one-time setup ensures that all data is privately shared between Escrow and the buyer or seller.
The rest of the process appears to be fairly straightforward; Escrow acts as as a kind of third-party go-between. A buyer sends money for a given watch to an account managed by Escrow. Funds are only released to the seller once the item is received by the buyer in the condition described in the eBay listing. Escrow claims that the service’s built-in security measures—from verification checks to secure payments and withholdings—protect against fraudulent sales.
Buyers will have up to seven days to inspect and examine any watch they buy before the transaction is complete. Returns will not be allowed once a watch is accepted by the buyer, or if the seven-day inspection period has passed. And when returns are necessary, the watch would be shipped back to the third party so the seller can have up to five days to inspect the watch before the buyer is fully refunded.
“We are changing the way people buy and sell luxury items on eBay,” Tirath Kamdar, general manager of luxury at eBay, said in a statement.
The new service comes amid a dramatic growth in high-end watch sales on eBay. The platform claims it has sold more than 7,000 luxury watches valued at more $10,000 since the launch of its authenticating service in the United States and Japan. Today, nearly 80,000 new, pre-owned and vintage watches are marked with its Authenticity Guarantee badge. In 2020, eBay says 8 million luxury watches were listed for sale on the platform.
Vice president of fashion at eBay Charis Marquez says the relationship with Escrow is designed to meet the increased interest in high-end timepieces: “We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in interest for luxury watches this past year, with more than 22 million site searches for Cartier, and more than 15 million for Tag Heuer. Escrow joins Authenticity Guarantee as eBay’s response to that growing appetite.”