Every watch listed online will state if it comes with box and papers, and if you read any watch purchasing guide or ask anyone about buying watches, they will say box and papers are vital. But are they? Whilst having the original box and paper will increase resell value and I would always advise you to hold onto any packaging your watch comes with, does it affect the watches authenticity? The short answer is no but as with most things it is a bit more complex than that.
There are genuine watches without papers and fake watches with papers. The fake watch industry is large and grows as fast (if not faster) than the genuine watch market. If you look at a fake Rolex for instance it is almost indistinguishable from a real one without looking at the movement. So, there are these factories dedicated to creating almost 1:1 copies of intricate mechanical movements and dial with time consuming details for a fraction of the cost of the genuine article. If they can fake a watch to that level, they can fake box and papers. For every factory line dedicated to pumping out fake Submariners or Daytona’s there’s one for making fake boxes and printers creating fake papers. That is why the adage of only buying box and papers is somewhat misguided.
If you have two dealers offering the same watch, one has box and papers and the other doesn’t, the important factor isn’t the papers it’s the dealer. A trusted dealer is worth more than box and papers and a dodgy dealer isn’t worth dealing with. That is why above boxes and papers and above anything else you need to remember you are buying the seller. Take for instance Watch Finder buying from them is safer than buying from a private seller on eBay regardless of if the private seller has boxes and papers. You are probably wondering then, if box and papers don’t prove authenticity why are full sets more expensive?
Another short answer long explanation. Short answer is that what you are buying is a more complete set when you buy a watch with box and papers. The value comes from the relative rarity of box and papers when it comes to vintage watches and in terms of modern watches it is a more complete package. That is what you are paying for when you buy a full set. The watch isn’t more genuine or more valuable intrinsically but the package is worth more as it is more complete.
So be careful when people say buy box and papers. If they mean it is a more collectable purchase, or more valuable than that is fair. If they mean box and papers are proof of authenticity then they are simply mistaken. The only way to avoid buying a fake watch is to buy from a reputable seller, such as Watch Finder, Watches of Switzerland, CWBC etc. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts or easy fixes when purchasing. You simply have to trust the seller and do your homework.
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