The Advantages of Buying and Selling on the Pre-Owned Watch Market

Aug 29 2019 · Chris MiresBy Chris Mires

At one time doing business in the pre-owned luxury watch market was a bit frowned upon. However, in recent years the advantages of buying and selling second hand have been recognized and respected in their own right. The idea of pre-owned watches has moved away from being considered a downgrade or somehow less-than. Instead, trading in pre-owned watches has come into its own as a distinctive sphere where unique, vintage pieces make their way into the hands of discerning owners.

As the secondary watch market has been growing leaps and bounds, particularly over the past five years or so, many questions have arisen regarding the benefits and advantages of buying and selling within this market. Let’s take a look at the positive side of getting involved in the pre-owned luxury watch world:

1. Rarity

When you enter into the world pre-owned watches, you will certainly find yourself in a place of uniqueness, rarity and distinction. Your gently-used timepiece carries with it an inimitable story, and this type of history cannot be equaled by a watch that has just emerged out of the production line. In fact, many watchmakers are now creating new lines of timepieces that mimic the vintage look of some of their previous models. But those who have the privilege of owning the originals do not need to settle for a copy or a remake.

In truth, a variety of benefits come from owning a timepiece that hails from the past. In particular, the rarity of discontinued watches is especially attractive to enthusiasts and collectors who are looking for the distinction of owning something that no one else can buy. Many watch lovers find themselves on the quest for a watch that is out of production and simply cannot be manufactured today—and finding it offers a deep sense of accomplishment.

2. Value

Very similar to when purchasing a new car, buying a new watch does come with the strong probability that it will depreciate in value not long after the initial purchase. In fact, one study states that a designer luxury watch, as soon as it is taken out of the box and worn, may depreciate up to 70% of its original value. Although watches are made to be worn, wearing a new watch will almost immediately lower its value on the market.

Instead, when you purchase a pre-owned watch, this initial depreciation is unlikely to happen. In fact, you may even find that your pre-owned watch increases in value over time, particularly if it has been well cared for and is of rare quality. This is especially true if the watch you are buying is in well cared for and comes with its box and papers all intact.

As the market for pre-owned and vintage watches becomes more popular and respected, the possibility for an excellent financial return on investment is certainly worth considering. In fact, one study has shown that making an investment in certain pre-owned luxury watches may actually outperform the return on an individual retirement account. And if the secondary watch market continues to perform and grow as it has recently, you might just find that you can retire on what you earn from it.

3. Affordability

Acquiring watches on the secondary marketplace allows discerning buyers to enter into the world of ‘haute horlogerie’ with a smaller financial investment to start with. You can now own that dream watch brand but in a more affordable manner. And since luxury watches are made of superior quality and tend to last a lifetime, the high-quality pre-used watch purchased at a lower price allows you to save money.

Some buyers can save 20%, or at times even up to 75% off the original retail price of a new watch, simply by buying pre-owned. This allows certain people to get involved in the luxury watch market who might not be interested in investing the capital that is required for a brand new watch.

4. Sense of Adventure

Far from the transactional experience of purchasing a new watch from a dealer or in a jewelry store, buying a pre-owned watch comes along with a sense of adventure. The search for the right watch, in the right condition, at the right price is all part of the journey. As you dig deep into the history of individual watchmakers and their designs, you’ll learn to respect and admire the craft of watchmaking in a new way. At the same time, your appreciation for each timepiece’s life will grow and change as you become part of the legend of the watch.

5. Shopping Experience

Purchasing a pre-owned watch on the secondary market is often a very different shopping experience than buying new. Rather than facing pressure-some salespeople in a dedicated watch shop or jewelry store, shopping for a pre-owned luxury watch offers a whole different kind of encounter.

Similar to the way that cars can be found listed on Craigslist or other used auto sites, pre-owned watches have made their way online. These forums offer tens of thousands of options for gently used luxury watches from private individuals as well as professional dealers.

Of course, brick-and-mortar shops have not gone completely by the wayside either, which is great for those who find it important to be able to see and touch a watch in person before making a final decision. Even in the physical shops that sell pre-owned watches, customers may find that the environment is more relaxed and salespeople may not be as likely to be pushy.

One other way that some watch collectors have found they enjoy making purchases is through the auction house. Online and real-life auctions both take place for buying and selling pre-owned watches. As with any item bought at auction, it is important to know what a piece is worth before buying so that you don’t end up paying an inflated price. Also, remember that auctions may come along with hefty fees (up to 20%) which will add on to the price that you pay.

6. Rotate Your Collection

Some collectors of watches like to own and enjoy something for a short time and then move on to something new. If this is you, then the pre-owned watch market may just be a perfect fit for your style. Those who bore easily can enjoy the ability to buy, sell, and trade in a way that always allows for things to be kept fresh, interesting and enticing.

If you get tired of one watch, simply jump back into the market to find a different one that you can enjoy for a while. You’ll never be short of conversation with other watch enthusiasts or a new item to show off to your friends. Plus, you might even find that you can make some money on your investments if the purchases are made in a wise manner.

And if you have inherited a luxury watch from a rich old uncle but it’s simply not your style, selling it may now be much more beneficial than it has been in the past. Rather than having to pawn it down the street or work with a high-end auction house, you can hop online to a trustworthy site and trade it in for something that you really like and will actually wear. It’s definitely a win-win situation.

7. Luxury Watch Community

In the past several years, many online platforms have developed that are devoted to the buying and selling of secondhand watches. If you want it to be, trading in watches can be more than simply a transaction. Passionate watch collectors gather and are often generous with sharing their information and knowledge to help others along the way.

Having access to this type of watch community means that knowledge and expertise are available to you as you become part of the story of your vintage timepiece. You will likely even have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests as yourself, ranging from fresh investors to connoisseurs, all of whom have a love and respect for the art and investment of fine watches.

Among the advantages of making new friends with similar interests, finding affordably priced pieces, and the satisfaction of discovering that rare jewel of a watch you’ve been searching for, entering into the secondary watch market can bring a great deal of enjoyment, benefit and even profit. Getting started just takes a bit of enthusiasm, a small amount of research and a willingness to make that first purchase. Once you get started in the world of pre-owned watches, you never know how far you can go.