box of papers

Breitling Is Ditching All-Important Watch Boxes and Papers to Cut Down on Environmental Waste

The company is making a brave move by ditching an industry tradition.

Carol Besler
Carol Besler’s Most Recent Stories
  • Piaget’s Ultra-Thin New Altiplano Wins the Watch World’s Most Coveted Award
  • A Paul Newman Rolex Daytona and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Lead Sotheby’s Geneva Auction
  • Modern Watches Took Center Stage—and Proved Their Worth—at Phillips’s $15 Million Auction
  • Share This Article
  • Pin It
  • Reddit
  • WhatsApp
  • Tumblr
  • Print
  • Talk

Breitling plans to start delivering its watches without boxes and papers later this year in an effort to cut down on packaging for environmental reasons. “I want to sell watches, not packaging,” said the brand’s CEO, Georges Kern on an Instagram Live interview with Watchonista last week. “The consumer is changing. Everybody has become more relaxed about luxury… it has to be more informal and should not be damaging to the environment.”

Boxes and papers constitute an important part of the value of a luxury watch, particularly when it comes to selling them on the secondary market. In reality, they are generally stored rather than discarded, because they can add considerably to the value of a watch. The phrase “with box and papers” is a common and crucial component of the description of any watch listed for sale at auction or online. So important are they to the resale potential of a watch that some luxury brands even hold them back for highly sought-after models in order to prevent flipping.

“I have heard of Rolex and Patek Philippe retailers that hold back the boxes and papers for the valuable steel pieces, sometimes for six months,” says vintage watch dealer Eric Wind. “And I have heard of them in some cases holding them for up to two years, in order to discourage people from being able to flip the watches—which it is near impossible to do without the box and papers.” The boxes themselves are even traded separately on the secondary market, often listed for hundreds of dollars.

Breitling isn’t doing away with packaging altogether but is simply ditching the traditional hard boxes that luxury watches are typically delivered in. “We are currently reviewing the concept but will move towards selling watches in pouches that are made from recycled materials and can be recycled again,” said Kern. Breitling has previously used recycled materials. Some of its straps are made from Econyl fiber, which is made from recycled fishing nets.

Breitling is also looking at new ways to store the information conveyed on the papers that come with a watch, in a way that is secure. “There will be fewer papers with the watch because all of the information will be provided digitally,” he said. In March, Breitling launched a new Top Time watch with a blockchain-based digital passport attached to it that confirms the authenticity and ownership of the watch throughout its lifetime. It can be tied to the watch’s digital warranty. Owners can access the watch’s digital passport at any time and transfer ownership with a simple blockchain transaction. Offered in cooperation with Arianee, the digital passport complements Breitling’s digital warranty program. So far, the watch is being sold exclusively online, and will launch separately in brick-and-mortar stores at a later date.

Breitling will stop using boxes and papers for its watches in an effort to be more sustainable.

Are Watch Box and Papers Important?

What is the importance of the box and papers when buying or selling a pre-owned watch? Although these items are not necessary, they definitely add value to the watch and help to prove authenticity and ownership. However, they are not legal documentation and are not required when transferring ownership. Including the box and papers with the watch can decrease the buyers hesitancy because it assures the buyer that the watch is authentic. For watches that are highly replicated, such as Rolex, many buyers are more inclined to purchase a watch that includes the papers so that there is no question as to whether the watch is authentic or a replica. Another factor to consider is the age of the watch. If it is a 50 year old watch, the chances that the owner has kept up with the paper work is very slim so one should not be too alarmed if a vintage watch does not include the papers. When purchasing a pre-owned watch, buyers are typically looking for a watch that has been taken care of and is in great condition. If the watch is offered with box and papers, the owner most likely took very good care of the watch, which will give the potential buyer more peace of mind. If a watch is not offered with box and papers, the selling price will most likely be lower than the same watch that is offered with box and papers. When looking to buy a pre-owned watch, make sure that the presence or absence of box and papers is appropriately reflected in the price of the watch.

This is a Rolex watch with its box and papers:

This is what a Patek Philippe watch looks like with its box and papers:

This is what a Girard Perregaux watch looks like with its box and papers:

Are Watch Box and Papers Important? What is the importance of the box and papers when buying or selling a pre-owned watch? Although these items are not necessary, they definitely add value to the