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Why Second Hand Watches Represent Better Value For Money

There are 2 types of watch customer, those that always want a new pristine watch and those that understand that nearly new can be just as good but much much cheaper, if you want to learn more about these savings please read on… Depreciation is a fact You can’t get around depreciation. It is a…

There are 2 types of watch customer, those that always want a new pristine watch and those that understand that nearly new can be just as good but much much cheaper, if you want to learn more about these savings please read on…

Depreciation is a fact

You can’t get around depreciation. It is a fact, even on luxury goods. Only a very few exceptions can be made such as the Patek Philippe Nautilus in steel, the new Daytona 116500LN or the limited edition CK2998 Speedmaster for example, but most watches will depreciate in those first few years after their purchase. This even applies to the much-praised sports Rolex watches.

 

Young Pre-Owned

We are talking about young pre-owned watches of course. Watches that are 10 years old and clearly being used as daily drivers have perhaps an even more attractive price tag, but you do have to deal with a couple of marks that your predecessor left on there. With a watch of 1-2 years old, you don’t have to worry about servicing and chances are good (depending on how cautious someone has been) the watch is still in great optical condition.

With the extended warranties that brands like Rolex, Breitling and Omega give these days, you might even be buying a watch that still comes with factory warranty. For example, on Iconic Watches we offer a pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR ‘Batman’ for 7400 GBP, a 2015 watch that still comes with factory warranty until 2020. A watch in an absolute 10 / 10 condition. The retail price of a new Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR is currently 7950 GBP. That’s a 400 GBP saved on a watch you can’t distinguish from new and avoid a hefty waiting list.

 

Things to keep in mind

You have to do some homework, as there are a couple of things you need to consider when exploring the pre-owned watch market:

  • What is the market value of the watch (discount on retail price), does it still make sense to purchase it as a young pre-owned watch?
  • Has it been serviced or does it need a service in the near future?
  • Does it come with all the correct box(es) and paperwork?
  • Has it been polished/overhauled or is the watch still in its original condition?
  • If the watch shows deep scratches and dings, what are the odds the movement was also impacted by this?
  • What are the prices of the same watch that are 5 – 10 years old, is it a solid investment or will it depreciate (much) more?
  • Liquidity – this is there a liquid market in the second-hand area or just 1 – 2 for sale. A popular watch e.g. Rolex submariner will hold a much stronger price as opposed to say a zenith as there are more exact items in the market due to there being fewer Rolex model numbers and options.

You can probably come up with some more questions yourself, depending on the specific watch you are looking for. If a watch comes on a (used) leather strap for example, you might want to check whether it is still ‘wearable’ and what the price of an OEM replacement strap will be. Some of them can be well over 350 GBP these days, without clasp that is.

Other reasons than financial

Not all people who buy a pre-owned watch do this because the price is more attractive. In some cases, the price is equal or even higher than the original retail price. Another reason can be availability. A new watch might just not be around due to high demand, low production or a combination of these two. When a watch like the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A or Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST has a waiting list of over a year, you might decide not to wait for them (also keep in mind that even if you order these watches today, you will pay the retail price of the future) and try to find one in the pre-owned market.

Another reason might be that the watch you want has been long sold out and not available anymore. A good example is last year’s Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award and this year’s Omega Speedmaster CK2998. Both limited editions and the ever-growing Speedmaster collector’s community was on top of these releases. Both can be found in the pre-owned market right now, still above retail price in most cases, but at least you will be able to purchase one.

Buy the Seller

Buying a pre-owned watch is not without risk. Much like buying a pre-owned car, you need to do more homework than when you are buying a new watch. But it can pay-off of course. We already gave you some things to think about in this article, but perhaps the most important rule (and open door, we’ll admit) is that you need to buy the seller. You need to be able to trust the seller. When it comes to warranty, you need to be able to rely on the seller that any issues will be solved without hassle. If you are not familiar with the seller, try to search on possible reviews or feedback from buyers. That should give a good idea about the seller. You can also ask other collectors or buyers on specific watch forums/communities about the seller and see if you can get some good references.

If you buy pre-owned watches from a business, like Iconic Watches, read about the terms and conditions, warranty policy (2 years for all preowned watches) and of course the (genuine) customer reviews. Always make sure you feel comfortable buying a watch, it will make it a better experience!