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The Bezel Report | Watch Market Insights 2023

We’re revealing exclusive data from our $350M+ worth of listings analyzing the most in-demand brands and watch styles, the prevalence of inauthentic watches on the secondary market, and how Bezel’s in-house team of authenticators, experts, and watchmakers protect collectors from purchasing counterfeits that other marketplaces would mistakenly approve.


Team Bezel

October 17, 2023


10 min read

Watch Market Insights for 2023 Q1-Q3

Introducing the Bezel Report.

Trust and transparency are at the core of everything we do.

That’s why we’re revealing exclusive data from our $350M+ worth of listings analyzing the most in-demand brands and watch styles, the prevalence of inauthentic watches on the secondary market, and how Bezel’s in-house team of authenticators, experts, and watchmakers protects collectors from purchasing counterfeits that other marketplaces would mistakenly approve. 

We’re not just creating a new standard. We’re creating the Bezel standard.

Authentication & Rejection Rates

At Bezel, we take great pride in providing our network of collectors and enthusiasts exclusive access to thousands of luxury watches offered by the world’s most reputable professional dealers and private sellers. Moreover, we further distinguish ourselves through our endless commitment to ensuring that every watch sold on the platform is authentic and exactly as described.

Bezel's Authentication Process

The rigorous Bezel Authentication process can be broken down into two sections: pre-listing authentication and post-purchase authentication. The pre-listing flow ensures that every watch is digitally screened by an expert on the Bezel team for any red flags or inconsistencies. The post-purchase authentication flow requires that every watch purchased on Bezel is shipped to our HQ before it goes to the buyer for a multi-point, industry-leading authentication process. This process is carried out entirely in-house by our team of watch specialists, experts, and watchmakers, who examine hundreds of minute details and facets to ensure authenticity, period correctness, and full functionality.

Pre-Listing | Digital Authentication

In order for a watch to be published on Bezel, it must first be vetted and assessed by our experts, who analyze the photos and provided information to verify the watch’s configuration, period-correctness, quality, and described condition. Any visibly inauthentic or incorrectly described watches are rejected, allowing us to significantly decrease the likelihood of Bezel members browsing or purchasing watches that do not meet the Bezel standard. We recognize that all aspects of the watch cannot be fully authenticated digitally, so despite passing pre-listing authentication, we require every watch sold to come to us first for thorough, post-purchase verification. 

Post-Purchase | In-Hand Review by Authentication Specialists

Once a watch is purchased on Bezel, the seller overnights the watch, fully insured, to our HQ. At this time, a client's funds are held in escrow until authentication is complete. 

First, our in-house specialists examine the watch in hand and under a loupe – inspecting each component's quality, overall uniformity, period-correctness, indications of wear or prior servicing, and expected execution/finishing. Bezel specialists take the serial and reference numbers of the watch into account, as these numbers guide what to look for in the case, dial, hands, bracelet, lume, accessories, and more.

If, at any point in this process, our team spots something off, we will disclose it to the buyer and will cancel the sale unless another, better remedy can be provided.

Post-Purchase | In-Hand Review & Diagnostic Testing by Watchmakers

Once our specialists have completed their review, the watch is passed along to our watchmaking team.

Our team of watchmakers looks at the watch on a forensic and functional level, inspecting the movement to ensure it is authentic, along with double-checking the case, dial, hands, bracelet, lume, and accessories to confirm what our team of specialists has noted. The watchmaking team then runs the appropriate diagnostic tests, focusing on ensuring the watches are telling time accurately, are passing the relevant pressure tests, and that any complications are functioning properly. 

Throughout the authentication process, every detail is noted, documented, and ultimately shared with the buyer in their Bezel Authentication Report.

Post-Purchase | Theft & Loss Review

Finally, serial numbers are submitted to the largest database for lost and stolen watches to confirm there are no matches, protecting buyers from unknowingly acquiring stolen property. This practice has prevented several instances where both sellers and buyers were unknowingly transacting in stolen watches. 

We place so much importance on protecting buyers from unknowingly purchasing stolen property as these watches are subject to confiscation by authorities without compensation – a situation which no collector would ever wish to find themselves in. 

Bezel's Rejection Rate

23% of watches attempted to be sold on Bezel do not pass verification, protecting our buyers from a myriad of issues

Through the end of Q3 2023, 23% of watches that reached our authentication team failed Bezel verification at either the pre-listing or the post-purchase stage. No matter the stage at which the watch failed Bezel’s multi-point process, the buyer was notified of the failure, and the sale was canceled unless a preferable alternative for the buyer was found. Here are a few of our favorite  stories from 2023 that illustrate the many ways we protect our clients:

A Stolen Patek Philippe Aquanaut

A recent example of a watch that came up as stolen during our process was a Patek Philippe Aquanaut that had been stolen just a few months earlier in an armed robbery.

In this case, as with most cases when a watch doesn’t pass authentication, the buyer chose to have their Bezel private client advisor source them another example. The stolen watch went through due process of tracing the chain of ownership and eventually was returned to the original owner.

A Poorly Engraved Upper Bridge

A client came to Bezel to purchase a two-tone Rolex Datejust. During authentication, our team noticed something off on the upper bridge of the Rolex movement—it was clear that the watch had poorly executed hand engravings not done by the Rolex. This was clear when inspecting the caliber number and jewel count text. These engravings were not on the same plane, which is typically the case.

Once informed, the client was extremely appreciative. Our concierge team continues to stay in touch and is working towards sourcing them their next watch.

A Cartier Tank That Didn’t Hold Up Under Pressure

A Bezel client came to our concierge team looking to purchase a Tank Anglaise for his wife. After the client purchased the watch, our team received it for authentication. The watch passed all steps of authentication up until the pressure testing. 

This reference should remain water resistant up to 30 bar of pressure, but in this case, it failed at 1 bar. Bezel’s watchmaking team can often remedy such issues, but in this case, the watch was beyond repair and out of warranty. The client was notified and offered a refund. Instead, the client opted to keep their payment as Bezel credit and have our concierge team source them a new one.

A Rolex Datejust With Papers That Didn’t Smell Right

One of the most commonly faked parts of a watch are its accessories. These largely fly under the radar, and are less scrutinized than the actual watch by sellers. Here at Bezel, we take special caution with accessories, and this example is a good reminder why.

A two-tone, five-digit Datejust was sold as a full-set. When we received the watch, it looked completely fine at first glance. However, upon inspecting the papers, it was noted that the typical musty smell for papers of this age was nowhere to be smelled. This raised a red flag amongst the authentication team, and the papers were determined to be inauthentic. Corroborating this finding, when the bracelet was removed and the serial number inspected between the 6 o’clock lugs of the watch, it was found that the first digit of the serial number was re-engraved. This was all done in an attempt to marry the watch to the made-up papers and increase the overall value of the set.

Rejections by Brand

The breakdown of rejections by brand in 2023 through September is a reflection of both the variety of watches sold on Bezel and the prevalence of counterfeit and less-than-entirely authentic watches currently existing in today’s luxury watch market. Unsurprisingly, this breakdown also closely mirrors the demand for authentic watches by brand.

Given the overwhelming popularity of Rolex watches, most watches rejected during our authentication process were either entirely counterfeit Rolexes or so-called “Franken” watches, pieced together using authentic and counterfeit components. 

Most “Franken” watches that reach Bezel’s Authentication team appear perfectly acceptable in their listing photos. Combinations of components that don’t correctly correspond with serial number ranges, as well as the presence of aftermarket parts, are revealed during our hands-on verification process, which naturally results in a rejection. As per our policy, the buyer is always notified and we offer to find a suitable replacement.

Following behind the ubiquitous luxury watchmaker were Patek Philippe and Cartier, whose innovative designs continued to enjoy a similarly enthused demand, resulting in a consequent incentive for fraudulent sellers of counterfeits. This incentive manifested in both the forms of high-grade counterfeits that, while able to pass for authentic in listing photos, were later revealed to be anything but upon closer inspection during Bezel’s hands-on verification process. 

Check out this story of how our authentication team caught a gold Patek Philippe Nautilus with a fake bracelet.

Bezel Sales Breakdown

To little surprise, Rolex watches have made up the largest percentage of watches sold on Bezel so far in 2023, reflecting the widespread popularity of the brand's countless iconic offerings. Right behind were top watchmakers Omega, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Tudor, and Audemars Piguet, reinforcing the appeal of these well-known brands.

While smaller-cased watches are most definitely in fashion and increasing in popularity, larger watches have continued to make up the most popular segment of the market from the beginning of 2023 through the end of September, with over 50% of watches sold measuring at least 40mm across.

Reflecting the popularity of versatile and understated aesthetics, watches with black, white, and silver dials were among the most sought-after over the last year. However, more colorful offerings certainly saw their fair share of interest, with blue and green dial-fitted pieces making up nearly 25% of watches sold on Bezel over the last three quarters.

Introducing the Bezel 100 Price Index

Leveraging sales data from the Bezel marketplace gathered between January 1st, 2023 and September 30th, 2023, we’ve generated the Bezel 100 Price Index, directly reflecting the progression of market pricing over the last year with unmatched accuracy.

Historically, we’ve tracked and analyzed this dataset internally for the purpose of keeping our team and clients informed on price trends in the industry. Bezel urges collectors to purchase what speaks to them above all else, as most every watch purchase should ultimately be a reflection of its owner’s unique passions, tastes, and preferences.

Bezel Price Index, Brand Highlights

Rolex & Patek Philippe: Q1-Q3 2023

Audemars Piguet & Cartier: Q1-Q3 2023

Perhaps most notably, the market for watches from Audemars Piguet saw the most significant downturn, which many would attribute to unsustainable levels of speculation and a lack of substantive demand amongst collectors and end users.

The Future

The demand for watches has only grown over the last two decades, as evidenced by consistently growing waitlists, healthy markups, and booming cultural relevance across the worlds of fashion, sports, and entertainment.

Because of this undeniable demand, the majority of watch owners are choosing to acquire their watches through the secondary market. But still, 40 million inauthentic watches are sold every year.

This is why Bezel will continue to push the standard of what trust and authenticity can be.

About Bezel:

Bezel is a marketplace for buying and selling luxury watches. Bezel gives you access to thousands of the most collectible watches from the world's most reputable dealers, curated for you daily. Every watch sold goes through our rigorous, in-house authentication process so you can shop with 100% confidence. Don’t see the exact timepiece you’re looking for? Reach out to our concierge team, and we will source it for you from our network of trusted sellers and collectors.

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