Though they may be on the expensive side, luxury and vintage watches have made quite the comeback in recent years. With the rise of eCommerce, new names in the horology game like Hodinkee, Crown & Caliber, and the WatchBox have made it easy to build a watch collection by purchasing a timepiece online. However, selling timepieces on the internet presents a whole new set of challenges. Watches still need to be shipped from merchants to buyers…and that brings up a lot of nerve-racking issues when it comes time to send these precious items off. If you find yourself in this position, don’t worry. We’ve laid out the best practices for shipping watches as effectively and safely as possible, and it’s time to break it down.
How Much is the Watch Worth?
When shipping a watch, the first question to ask yourself is, “How much is it worth?”
Knowing the value of a watch is the best way to determine which shipping carrier to use for sending it. For watches valued under $5,000, we suggest shipping with the US Postal Service. USPS is the best carrier for lightweight, small shipments. With USPS, you can also get away with shipping your watch in a Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box for super cheap.
Of course, you’ll save the most money on postage by using free online shipping software to buy USPS labels at a discount. In fact, a Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box will only cost $7.65 at true Commercial Pricing rates, which is the level of USPS discounts that the best shipping software companies offer. These particular boxes also come with a fair amount of protection for your watch, as they are constructed of new, rigid cardboard.
Pro Tip: There’s a reason why we say USPS is best for “lower value” watches. This is because most USPS shipping software companies will only allow you to declare up to a maximum value of $5,000 for insurance. So, as long as your watch is valued at or below $5,000, then USPS will be the cheapest carrier.
UPS is Generally the Best Carrier for a Luxury Watch Shipment
For shipping out luxury watches of a higher value, UPS is the best carrier of choice. UPS allows for a much higher maximum declared value of $50,000 (or local currency equivalent) per shipment for insurance, which gives you way more wiggle room for sending those expensive watches that horology enthusiasts love and covet. Most watches from brands like Rolex, Jaeger LeCoultre, IWC, Patek Phillipe, and Audemars Piguet will naturally fall into this category.
So, if you find yourself shipping a high-end watch over $5,000, consider shipping with UPS. It will be more expensive to send out than it would be with USPS, but you’ll be able to protect watches of a much higher value that way.
Pro Tip: The good news about shipping watches is that no matter what they are worth, each one is a relatively lightweight and small item. That means that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to ship it!
Protect Your Watches With Plenty of Packing Material
Whether you decide to ship with USPS or UPS, the key to shipping a watch properly is to use plenty of packing material. There are different types of packing material you should include to take up the most amount of space in your box, such as air pillows and large-sized bubble wrap. Also, be sure to cover the watch face with either a clear film or protective cloth. That way, you’ll protect the crystal and the bezel from any scratching or chipping during transit.
If you’re looking for air pillows or bubble wrap, you can find them both on the shipping supplies website ULINE. Here are the link to browse through both of these types of packing material below:
A good test is to see if you’ve protected your watch sufficiently is fill your box up with as much protective cushioning as possible. Then, once you seal it, pick up the box and shake it around. Turn it upside-down. Toss it up in the air and catch it. If you can’t hear or feel the watch moving around, then you’re ready to send it off!
You Need To Purchase Additional Insurance
No matter what your watch is worth, we suggest that you protect your package with shipping insurance. Watches are some of the most fragile, high-value items that you can ship. On top of that, there’s also the emotional attachment that people have to them. Just because they are cheap to ship, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about the insurance. We highly suggest purchasing insurance for the entire declared value of the watch, in the event that it gets lost during transit or arrives damaged. Insurance will run you a few dozen dollars for a high-priced watch. However, it’s well worth the investment to be reimbursed in case anything unfortunate happens to it.
Be Aware of Different Countries’ Rules for International Shipments
If you plan on shipping a watch internationally, you should first check to see if the destination country has any restrictions on imported items. For example, the United States actually bans the importing of alligator leather straps on watches. Our customs department often seizes these types of straps whenever a watch shipment with them touches down on American soil. You don’t want that to happen to you when sending your watch to a foreign country…trust us.
So, do your homework first! To verify what each country may restrict or prohibit for imports, check out the USPS individual country listings.