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Should I Buy a Pre-Owned Watch?

Posted by Steve Georges on May 31, 2018 12:30:24 PM


If you are considering investing in a luxury watch for yourself or someone else, there are some fundamental questions to think about before deciding which one to go for.

Will it be an automatic or a quartz? What complications would I like the movement to have? What brand and style would be ideal? And the question that I will be exploring in this blog… Do I go new or pre-owned?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it all comes down to personal preference and having the right information.

The pre-owned market is booming, and with so many options to choose from, and an extensive number of retailers offering varying prices, jumping in can be an overwhelming and daunting experience.

The benefits of buying pre-owned can get lost in translation this way, even more so if this is the first time you are looking at second-hand watches.

So, to help you decide whether buying a pre-owned watch is the best option for you, or whether you should go down the new route, below I’m covering the fundamental things to look out for and be aware of when buying pre-owned, so that you can decide whether it’s the right decision for you or not.


FIRSTLY, Choose A Reputable Retailer

The first thing to think about when buying a luxury watch (new or pre-owned), is where to make the investment. Whether you’re looking to purchase online or in a store, you’ll want to thoroughly research companies and make sure your final choice is reputable and knowledgeable.

This is particularly important if you end up looking at a watch that is being sold by an independent person, rather than a registered company.

A reputable retailer can give you peace of mind, and the assurance that an extensive and rigorous verification process has taken place to ensure that the watch is authentic.

You’ll also be covered in the unfortunate circumstance that you accidentally damage your watch. Manufacturing issues that may occur in the future will also be repaired to the highest standard.

The journey with your watch does not end at the point of purchase, in fact the adventure is just beginning, and it is re-assuring to know that the company you bought the watch from will help you to look after it for the rest of your time with it.



Burrells Winchester


What Condition are Pre-owned Watches in?

The condition of a new watch is never in question and the condition of a pre-owned model shouldn’t be either.

A common misconception is that all pre-owned watches are significantly worn, and this is not the case (if you choose a reputable retailer). Barring the original dealer’s label and brand stickers, a pre-owned watch can look exactly like its new counterpart.

It should be a pre-requisite that the timepiece is fully serviced and refurbished to a “like new” condition (an exemption being vintage models that some buyers might prefer in their original condition).


Do Pre-owned Watches Come with a Warranty?

Buying a pre-owned watch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect a warranty. In fact, many second-hand watch dealers offer a 6 or 12-month warranty as standard.

A warranty will protect you from any unexpected manufacturing problems, and it can be a red flag if a seller is not prepared to offer this.




The Rare and Unique Appeal of Pre-owned Watches

When you consider pre-owned, you open the door to a huge range of possibilities. Buying a new timepiece limits you to what the watch house is offering at the time; pre-owned comes with a much wider set of options.

You could discover a retired style, a unique dial colour or a watch from a particular year (to celebrate a birthday).

Some people love the excitement of hunting down a rare and unusual watch, and the idea that not many people will be wearing the same timepiece is often appealing.

However, other people love to buy new, as they like to have the very latest watch that everyone is talking about. They also like being the first person to wear the watch on their wrist.

The choice is completely down to personal preference.



Paul Newman Daytona

Photo credit: Hodinkee


How Much do Pre-owned Watches Cost?

Price is what often leads people to the pre-owned market and it is easy to see why. Pre-owned watches are predominantly more economical than new watches.

However, there are exemptions to this, and in some cases a pre-owned timepiece can be more expensive than the new equivalent. This can be due to a number of factors, although most commonly it is down to a greater demand than there is supply.

Restricted availability of new models creates waiting lists, and the longer these get, the price of that particular watch in the pre-owned market increases. A 1-year old steel Rolex Daytona can sell for £14,000, even though the ‘new’ price is £9,100.

Moreover, some timepieces are no longer in production or are special/limited editions and are now only available in the pre-owned market, hence the value of the watch will be higher than when it was originally released.

Be careful when it comes to price though. The cheapest price may not represent the best purchase choice. Price will be determined by factors like those mentioned above (condition, warrantee, and a reputable retailer who provides aftercare).




Is Paperwork for Pre-owned Watches a Must?

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether a watch has paperwork and the original box. Having the relevant paperwork is commonly seen as a verification of the watch’s authenticity, or for guarantee purposes.

A paper trail can be incredibly helpful in determining the age and authenticity of a watch. It is also valuable if you hope to resell in the future. The same is true of the original box, although, for older watches, this is often lost to the mists of time.

Both peace of mind regarding authenticity and a guarantee can be obtained without paperwork though. Sometimes, the original warrantee card has been misplaced and separated from the watch through its previous owner(s) and in my opinion this is not a big deterrent, as long as the retailer has a solid reputation.




So, Should I Buy a Pre-Owned Watch?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and that it’s given you a better understanding about what to look out for and what to be careful of when buying a pre-owned watch.

If you do your research, buying pre-owned could be an amazing option for you. However, buying new can provide you with extra re-assurance and security.

There is no right or wrong answer here and you should always go with what works best for you.

For further advice, I would be happy to help you and answer any other questions you may have. You can contact me or one of our other watch experts here.


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