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A Guide to Buying a Pre-Owned Watch

By The Watches of Switzerland Group   |   4 minute read


Buying a watch is always a big decision. No matter your budget or desired style, there are things you have to consider to make sure you get the right one for you. But what if you are thinking of purchasing a pre-owned timepiece? With the vintage and pre-owned market booming, you’ll want to ensure you get the best deal possible and, if you invest well, maybe even make some money from a resale in the future. Here’s a handy guide to what to look out for when buying a pre-owned watch.

What is a pre-owned watch

A pre-owned watch is essentially one that has had either one or more owners. They are usually of a premium or designer brand, or a vintage timepiece. Some people may sell their watch to downsize their vast collection or use their old watch as a part exchange to purchase a new watch.

The benefits of buying a pre-owned watch

One of the biggest advantage is that buying a pre-owned watch is less costly. You can purchase quality, vintage pieces at a fraction of the price that it would have been brand new. There is also the opportunity to purchase a classic watch that may have been discontinued.

Tips on buying a pre-owned watch

Tip 1: Buy from a reputable source

For every good second-hand watch retailer, there are hundreds of less reputable ones. Make sure you choose the most trustworthy source by going somewhere that has long-standing connections with the brands it sells. A good way to check this is to enquire whether its watches have been serviced by the brand before sale and come with a warranty.

The best place to find sterling-quality timepieces by everyone from A. Lange & Sӧhne to Zenith, of course, is our Pre-Owned service at Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths. As an official agent of our partner brands, we fully assess all our pre-owned watches to confirm their authenticity. We also give them a complimentary check-up. This includes an ultrasonic clean and polish of the case and bracelet; a water-resistance test of the glass, crown and back seals; a diagnostic test of all functions, including date, rapid date change, chronograph operation and self-winding; and a check of the time regulation and power reserve. For your peace of mind, our pre-owned watches come with a two-year warranty certificate.

Tip 2: Ask for the papers

While a watch may look in immaculate condition, it may not be running as smoothly inside. Just as you wouldn’t buy a second-hand car without a full service history, you shouldn’t buy a mechanical watch if there’s no proof of the last service and those before it. If it comes with its original papers and the warranty card from the first owner, that’s even better, as that’s the best way to ensure the serial numbers all match up and the provenance of your timepiece is secure.

Tip 3: Don’t dismiss a worn watch

In the vintage market, certain signs of ageing can actually increase the value. If the lume on the indexes and hands has patinated or the steel case shows sign of wear, it shows the watch has a history. There’s nothing more special than buying a timepiece with heritage and then adding to its story with your own experiences and adventures. That’s why the most expensive watch ever sold was not a new creation, but a pre-owned Rolex Daytona that used to belong to Paul Newman.

Watches of Switzerland pre-owned collection

The collection is constantly changing in line with our ability to source the best timepieces in the pre-owned market. We have become renowned for the breadth and calibre of the watches available, from prestigious brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, Breitling, Omega and TAG Heuer, we will have the pre-owned watch you have been looking for.

In most cases our pre-owned watches are reconditioned and serviced by the brands themselves before they arrive in our showrooms. They are also brand-certified, fully warranted and guaranteed so you can have every confidence in your purchase.

Any pre-owned watch over 20 years old will hold its value much better than anything else in the marketplace today. The older the watch is, the more unique the piece is, limiting the chances of ever encountering another person with the same watch.

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