How to bid in a timed auction

In a timed online auction, there is no auctioneer taking bids from a live audience in a room.

Bidding in a timed auction on a mobile phone

At timed auctions, once the time-period expires, the bidder who has submitted the highest bid wins the lot, provided the bid exceeds the reserve price.

Instead, each lot can be bid on for a defined period of time. Bids are placed online. At the end of the period, the bidder who has submitted the highest bid wins the lot, provided the bid exceeds the reserve price.

Timed auctions on typically last for up to a week or two.

All timed auctions have an end-time displayed on the lot page. You can bid at any point from when the auction opens to when it closes.

Where to see the end time of a timed auction

The end time for each lot in a timed auction is clearly displayed - be sure to place your bid before the end time is reached.

As a bidder, you can enter a max bid – the most you are willing to bid, using our set bidding increments and we do the rest. We will bid intelligently for you, bidding only enough for you to meet the reserve or stay in the lead.

Your max bid stays secret in our system. We won’t share your maximum bid with the auctioneer, the seller, other bidders, or anyone else for that matter.

You’ll see your ‘current bid’ when you log in and view the lot (often it will be less than your ‘maximum bid’). If someone bids higher than your maximum, we will send you an ‘outbid alert’ via email to let you know, so you can decide whether to bid more.

If a bid is placed in the final few minutes of the defined time period, the time period will be extended by a number of minutes. The auction house can set the number of minutes for its own auctions but typically on a bid placed in the final 10 minutes of the timed auction extends the closing time by 10 minutes.

This is to stop ‘sniping’ – a practice used by bidders on some other websites whereby they rush to place bids in the last few seconds to prevent other bidders being able to respond before the auction closes.

Step-by-step: what to do

So, you've found the perfect item you want to bid on and have set up your account on, now you need to register for the auction:

Click on the 'Connect to auction' button displayed at the top of the auction catalogue page and complete the auction registration form.

Once, the auctioneer has approved your registration you'll then be able to begin bidding. In order to bid:

1. Find the lot you want to bid on

2. Type in your maximum bid into the appropriate box and click ‘place bid’

3. Click ‘confirm’ on the page that appears

Don’t forget, just like when you’re in an auction room, bidding online is a contractual commitment to buy.

How do I check if I’m leading in a timed auction?

We’ve got two ways you can do this:

By checking the lot’s webpage

Just log in, find the lot on our website, and click on its description page. You’ll find the current bid, your maximum bid, and whether you’re in the lead on the right-hand side of your screen.

By checking My Saleroom

Just log in, go to ‘My Saleroom’ (in the header above), and click ‘My Current Bids’. To see the lots on which you’re leading, click ‘Leading’. To see the lots you’re not leading in, click ‘Outbid’.

Get bidding

More auction houses are holding timed auctions these days as more and more bidders are happy to bid online in them.

You can find items such as watches, jewellery, wine and spirits available in timed auctions on with an increasingly wider range of sales being added each month.

Good luck!

Send feedback on this article