How Important is the Watch’s Box and Papers? [Statistics]

One of the biggest ongoing discussions within the watch community is the importance of box and papers. Once you purchase a watch, you will get the box and papers for the watch. However, from there, many tend to throughout the box and papers. The discussion lies in the debate of whether or not the box and papers are actually important.

The importance of box and papers are very individual. Watches with box and papers do have a higher resale value, and they are sold faster. Watches with box and papers are sold for 10-25% more than watches with no box and papers. Also, they are sold 13.1% faster than watches with no box and papers.

It’s a very nice way to get a discount on a watch for people not caring for the box and papers. Since the box and papers are important for collectors and hardcore enthusiasts, going for a watch only can net a 10-25% discount.

The Importance of Box and Papers

Box and papers is a topic that is hot within the watch community. Some are “watch only” buys, while others will only buy watches with box and papers. Here’s why:

Box and papers are important to people that will sell their watch down the road. The price of a full set (watch, box, and papers) is much greater than a “watch only.” Furthermore, having box and papers will make the sale of a watch faster.

Therefore, you can say that it’s quite crucial for many buyers to get the box and papers in a trade if you decide to sell the watch down the road.

However, you can also say that for the average watch buyer, having the box and papers will only drive up for price for something that you will never sell again.

When talking about box and papers, the box is simply the box the watch came in. The papers is the document(s) that came with the watch. The document(s) shows the watch model, reference number, serial number, maybe even date of purchase.

The average watch buyer will typically find a single watch and wear that watch until it breaks.

What is often overlooked in the search for a watch with box and papers is the service history and original receipt.

Having the original receipt, you can quickly identify the watch’s authenticity while getting the relevant information to the history of the watch.

In addition, many watch buyers, collectors, and enthusiasts completely forget about the watch’s service history. With the service history, you can see the service intervals, changed components, which watch repairers it has been at, etc.

Furthermore, mechanical watches (both automatic and manually wound) tend to be more expensive compared to their quartz counterparts. The complexity and craftsmanship of a mechanical watch is far greater than a quartz watch. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect quartz watches.

To give some context of how the secondary market is segmented in regards to watches with and without box and papers.

The contents available for sale is divided into four categories:

  • Watch with box and papers
  • Watch with box
  • Watch with papers
  • Watch only
Segmentation of watches for sale with and without box and papers
Segmentation of watches for sale with and without box and papers (Source)

It’s not rare to find watches with both box and papers. However, what is interesting is that the minority of the watches come with either the box or the papers. The statistic shows that people mostly keep their box and papers, or they throw either the box or papers away.

The Resell Value of the Watch

Once a watch is put up for sale on the secondary market on sites such as Chrono24, or resellers, the secondary market provider will usually want to know a few things about the watch in the postings.

Aside from the obvious information such as watch model and reference number, information about the condition, service history, accuracy, etc. is listed for the potential buyer.

Research taken from Chrono24’s database shows that watches with boxes and papers sell for 13.2% to 23.3% more than watches that don’t have box and papers.

Although you might think that such a price difference is a rip-off, there is actually a reason for the price gap being this significant.

Sales price of a Rolex Submariner with and without box and papers (Source)
The sales price of a Rolex Submariner with and without box and papers (Source)

You see, watch collectors want history, heritage, and excellent conditions. If the watch has no box and papers, the history of the watch is not preserved.

The watch with missing box and papers doesn’t come as an original set. Imagine you buy something like a boat or a car. You would expect that you get the original papers to verify the legitimacy of the object.

It’s the same thing when buying a home. You also get the deed of the property. Now, I know that buying a watch is not equal to buying a house. But this is just to give you an example of why some people view box and papers as critical.

The sales price of an Omega Speedmaster with and without box and papers (Source)

The price difference between a Rolex Submariner reference 16610 with and without box and papers is 17.8%. If the Submariner was worth $10.000 with box and papers, the watch would “only” be worth $8.220.

In the picture below, I will highlight the most important findings from the study done by Chrono24 based on their own database.

The sales price of a Rolex GMT-Master II (Pepsi) with and without box and papers
The sales price of a Rolex GMT-Master II (Pepsi) with and without box and papers (Source)

The price difference is very clear on popular models. However, visiting Chrono24 yourself, you will quickly see that this trend is not only related to popular models.

Nonetheless, the amount to be made with the original box and papers is smaller on brands that aren’t popular. Generally, luxury watches and collector pieces tend to have a higher price increase than lower-end watches.

To conclude:

  • If you ever intend to sell a watch you bought from the secondary market, you should find a watch with both the original box and papers.
  • If you are going to keep the watch throughout your lifetime, you can buy a watch for a discount by finding watches without box and papers.
The sales price of a Cartier Santos 100 XL 2656 with and without box and papers
The sales price of a Cartier Santos 100 XL 2656 with and without box and papers (Source)

The conclusion is quite clear if you want to perceive the monetary value from future buyers box and papers are a must.

Time to Sell the Watch

Another prominent aspect of having the box and papers is the time to sell. Not everyone buys a watch with the intent to sell it down the road.

Nonetheless, if you ever were to sell your watch, having the sale time in mind is another important aspect.

Having the original box and papers will make the sale of a watch 13.1% faster than not having the box and papers. Having the original receipt and service history is an added bonus that can speed the sale even more.

And as I said, not everyone is buying a watch to sell it. However, you could be changing taste in watches, which could mean you would want to sell you watch to get the funds for another. Having the box and papers could be a good idea.

Time to sell a watch (Source)

One thing is to buy a brand new watch and receive the box and papers in the purchase (always included in the purchase of a new watch). Another is to buy a used/vintage secondhand.

However, if you are going to the secondary market to find a good deal or just, in general, are more into vintage watches, the original box and papers become essential.

The sole reason why I state papers (and box) is important since counterfeits and fakes (arguably the same) is starting to get a quality of where the average buyer easily could get scammed.

Therefore, you need the papers to verify the authenticity of the watch. This is done by checking the model number usually stamped on the watch, and the serial number also stamped on the watch.

Having the papers’ model number and serial number match the numbers stamped on the watch is usually a sign of a genuine watch.

The pitfall is that you have to research how the papers look beforehand to ensure you are not looking at counterfeit documents.

Receipt and Service History

The most overlooked papers is the original receipt and service history. Something I personally would have over the original box and papers: original receipt and service history throughout its lifetime.

Having the box and papers is one way to keep the story and proof the authenticity of a watch. However, the original receipt and service history brings data on the same and more than the original box and papers.

The original box and papers is useful to authenticate whether the watch is real or not. Furthermore, it has some perceived value since watches sell for 10%-25% more when having the original box and papers.

Having the receipt and service history gives some information that can’t be found in the box and papers:

  • Place of purchase
  • Purchase date
  • Original price
  • Place of service(s)
  • Service intervals
  • General condition of the watch (based on services)

Nonetheless, the receipt gives almost the same information as the papers. The service history provides information about the watch’s condition.

Having the original receipt personally adds more value since it gives the place of purchase, date, price, etc.

Furthermore, the service history reviews the place at which the watch has been repaired, and at which intervals.

This will, without a doubt, add value to the next owner. The next owner will be able to see if the watch has been serviced at certified watchmakers.

Authenticity Check With Box and Papers

Many people think that authenticity is 100% guaranteed if the watch comes with box and papers. This is not the case.

However, if the papers are accurate, you will, 90% of the time, be able to say it’s also an authentic watch.

The authenticity of a watch is determined by one thing, and one thing only: the watch itself. I know that sounds confusing and obvious, but the key elements of a watch is the watch. To be more specific: the movement.

Regardless of whether you have the box, papers, receipts, etc. you will have to open the watch and check the movement to be absolutely sure.

Don’t worry, you can make a watch store open the watch for you, so you don’t damage anything to check the authenticity.

The manufacturers who are making fake watches are really good at it, almost to a point where you will not be able to tell the difference.

The case, dial, sapphire glass, engravings, etc. are all done nearly perfectly. However, what is one of the most difficult parts to replicate on a watch is the movement.

Some watch manufacturers, like Rolex, as some advanced techniques which enable them to imprint the logo in the sapphire glass at 6 o’clock as an “authenticity check.” However, you can’t rely on that engraving alone.

The movement is the alpha-omega of the show. Watch manufacturers, who are worth making replicas of, typically also has some very advanced manufacturing methods, making their movements unique.

How to Check the Authenticity of a Watch

Checking the authenticity is easiest if you have the knowledge of a watchmaker/jeweler. Since taking the watch to a watch store is not always an option, I have listed ways to make sure the watch is genuine:

  • Take the watch to a watch store, jeweler, watch repairer, etc.
  • Get a hold of the papers and the watch and compare the numbers (model-, serial-, or other identification-numbers).
  • Look for brand-specific characteristics (Rolex engraving their logo in the 6 o’clock position in the glass).

The movement is the hardest thing to replicate in a 1:1 scale for the counterfeiters. That is also why the easiest way to check authenticity is to bring the watch to a watch specialist.

Taking the watch to a watch specialist can be difficult if you are looking at watches cross country or overseas.

Stamps and Prints

On most modern watches there are different stamps on the watch case, between the lugs, or prints on the case back.

Using the stampings and prints, it’s possible to use the internet to identify whether the watch is legit or not. E.g., Omega has released a reference list to help you identify the year of the watch.

Using such information, you can check if the production year fits the number stamped on the watch.

Model Number

The model number is an obvious check and doesn’t really prove much. A counterfeiter would most likely know what he’s counterfeiting.

However, you might be able to catch a bad fake using the information provided by the papers.

Serial Number

The serial number is what is hard to counterfeit. When you are browsing the secondary market, you will often find that sellers blur the serial number.

This is simply because the counterfeiters steal the serial numbers and stamp them in their counterfeit watches to make them look more real.

Insurance companies might ask for the serial number, likewise, will the police if the watch is ever reported stolen.

The manufactures will also hold records of the serial numbers for authentication. Hence, you will not be able to send a counterfeit watch in for a watch repair at a certified watch repairer.

Brand-specific Characteristics

Some manufacturers have some brand-specific characteristics that easily could give away a counterfeit. There are different ways of doing this.

Rolex is by far the best example. Rolex is engraving their logo in their glass at the 6 o’clock position.

The engraving is a very complicated process. For counterfeits, the logo will often end up looking like a homemade tattoo.

Therefore, brand-specific characteristics is a good way to identify potential fakes.

Should you Keep the Watch’s Box and Papers?

Of course, you should keep the box and papers. If you are fortunate enough to have both box and papers, you can sell the watch faster and at a higher cost.

Yes, you should keep the watch’s box and papers. Having the box and papers will make the sale of your watch 13.1% faster if you ever were to sell the watch. Also, the watch would be sold for 10%-25% more than watches without box and papers.

There is simply no reason not to keep the box and papers if first acquired.

What would be even better is if you have any service papers on the watch. Having these papers will help the next owner understand the watch’s condition while also helping you to prove the watch is in good condition.

The last thing is the original receipt. Having the original receipt will also be a way to prove the authenticity of the watch.

Having a watch that is bought from a reputable store such as Tiffany & Co. or Harrods will ensure the buyer of the authenticity of the watch.

All in all, keep the box and papers (also the papers you receive from services) as it will only help you in a potential sale in the future.

Jonas Henriksen

AllInWatches is founded by Jonas, who has a great interest in mechanical watches. All aspects of manual and automatic (mechanical) watches is a big interest and have been a passion since 2015, where the first automatic watch was purchased. Seeing the transparent case back and discovering the heritage of watchmaking piqued an interest in horology.

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