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Should You Be Buying Pre-Owned?

pre-owned luxury watches chronograph

Pro #1: Pre-owned watches are *usually* sold for less

Buying pre-owned luxury watches can be tricky. But like most things, it has its pros and cons. It can be exciting stumbling on an overlooked treasure, or you could shell out some serious cash on a serious fake. There’s nothing wrong with second hand watches, though; you just need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this method of shopping.

Like most things, watches depreciate in value, so you could probably get a pre-owned timepiece for as low as 40% off its original price, depending on the condition it’s in. If you’re lucky, you can get a mint condition piece for a fraction of its original cost. The usual exception is if a specific piece is rare and desirable, or was owned by someone famous or significant; it’s definitely not going to be a bargain.

Pro #2: A pre-owned watch has character

Some people appreciate the look of a used watch, whether it’s the patina of the dial, the faded color of the bezel, or the dings and scratches on the case. These tell the story of the previous owner’s relationship with the watch through the years.

Pro #3: You may encounter rare and hard to find pieces

Watch companies might discontinue watch lines or models for various reasons, whether because it didn’t sell well, or is being replaced by a newer version. It’s not often that watch brands revive previous lines or create reissues, so if you’re looking for something that’s been taken off the market, a good place to look for it is in the pre-owned market. 

Pro #4: The hunt is exciting

If you’re entertaining fantasies of being a pirate searching for dubloons on a deserted island, or an archaeologist discovering a hidden cache of treasures, then we can tell you that you’ll enjoy the process of second hand watch buying. Depending on the watch, you might have journey across the globe for a specific piece, with no way of telling if the watch you’re hunting is even there. If it’s the experience of exploring antique shops, attending auctions, and meeting new people that adds value to the watch that you’re looking for, then navigating the pre-owned market just might be most fun you’ll have.

Unfortunately, buying pre-owned isn’t all fun and games; there are certain things you need to constantly keep in mind… unless you want to be scammed.

Con #1: There are a lot of fakes

And we mean a lot. This is the obvious con; it goes without saying that you have to be very careful when shopping for pre-owned pieces, watches or not. If there is even a single doubt in your mind that the watch is fake, don’t bother.

Con #2: There can be hidden issues, like third-party parts

In horror, the scariest thing is that which you can’t see; it’s applicable in the second hand market. There are sellers who will find ways to hide issues in their watches for the sake of making that sale. In other cases, mostly for vintage watches, original replacement for broken or damaged parts are almost impossible to come by. So if anything needs replacement, third party parts are employed, but doing so will drag down the value of the watch.

Con #3: Inflated prices due to desirability and rarity

Flipping isn’t just for real estate or the newest streetwear drop. Public demand often leads to higher prices, and it has happened that people buy out desirable pieces before anyone else can get to them, only to sell them for profit. Highly collectible, unique, and one-off pieces also tend to fetch higher prices. Let’s not even get started on the phenomenon of celebrity watches selling for jaw-dropping amounts at auction.

Con #4: Hunting takes time and effort

Exciting as it initially is, you will eventually get tired of looking for The One. Even we’ll admit: a search with no end in sight can get frustrating. For those who don’t have the patience, there’s no shame in buying brand new.

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