With the significant development of people's appreciation for timepieces, especially mechanical watches, there has also developed a considerable interest in second-hand watches. And this has caused an important market to grow, which has now reached, as a size, the primary sales market of the Maisons.

Therefore, let us examine this niche to give practical advice to all enthusiasts who may have approached, and at times, been burned by, these particular pieces of the watch market, to start a watch collection.

watch collection

What is a second-hand watch?

A second-hand watch means a reasonably recent timepiece (i.e., still in production) that comes with its original box and papers but was used by someone before us.

The term could lead to some confusion, however, given the use of the exact words to indicate the presence, precisely, of the second hand in a watch. A feature so common today that we take it as a given. That is why to refer to a pre-owned watch, watch fans use the term "second wrist," which is not subject to misinterpretation instead.

Returning to the use of this term to refer to a pre-owned watch, there is a further subdivision. People prefer to use the term vintage when talking about older watches, no longer in production and perhaps without the original box and papers.

Why do people buy used watches?

There are many reasons why people prefer to buy a second-hand watch. They are about the same as people think of when they buy a used car instead of a new one: it involves saving money on the price of the new watch and the possibility of acquiring watches that are no longer in production, perhaps for some time, but that we like for different reasons.

In fact, we must say that the mechanisms of watches, except in rare cases, are very similar to those used 300 years ago. Of course, the mechanisms fitted in modern watches are more accurate and reliable, generally speaking. However, the closer we get to the concept of a second wrist, the more modern their performance becomes.

Then there are cases where buying a used watch is the only way to get it quickly. This is not recent news, but it is true that buying a Rolex watch from the Professional series is much faster to turn to the second-hand market than to rely on an order from a boutique of the brand. And because of this, the prices of used Rolexes are higher than the corresponding list prices.

Or, as in the case of the Patek Philippe Nautilus version 5711, the watch has been discontinued, so the only way to get it is to find it on the secondary market (and even then, at a premium over the old list price).

Is it okay to buy second-hand watches?

It is undoubtedly sure that buying a used watch is perfectly normal: people buy and sell used items all the time. However, ensuring that the goods you buy are authentic and have not been stolen is a bit more challenging!

In watches, especially recently, theft and robbery are becoming a significant problem. Statistics tell us that they are increasing year by year, with peaks in certain areas of more than 100 percent. And the worst thing is that, beyond particularly valuable models, it is complicated to determine whether the watch is from a regular seller or someone trying to resell stolen goods - and serial numbers are not much help either since they are not in the public domain.

So this is one more element to consider carefully when buying a used watch, especially from a private individual.

a used watch

Why are second-hand watches so cheap?

The best used watches are not cheap at all. At most, they can be said to allow some savings over the list price, except in exceptional cases that we have already examined. Some, sold by watch enthusiasts, are kept in excellent condition, while others, perhaps used every day, show the signs of time, and this is reflected, of course, in the price at which they are offered.

If you are faced with a very cheap watch, better ask yourself why: this could be an indicator that something in the watch is wrong. It could be just the used condition, the lack of boxes and papers, or even the urgency to sell the watch for different reasons. In other cases, it could be hiding more severe problems.

What should I look for in a used watch?

However, a used watch, unfortunately, gives a different degree of reliability than a new watch, and not only on a technical level, (remember also to check the watch size, a proper sizing of a watch on your body frame is important).

. Used watches may have undergone technological interventions to change their elements and improve their aesthetics in order to command a higher price in the market.

And the buyer may not be aware of the technical minutiae that help ensure the originality of a timepiece, resulting in having thrown their money away by giving it to an unscrupulous person.

If you have only marginally approached the watch market, we recommend this article, 'Watch value guide', that explains, in a nutshell, the essential elements of dating a watch and avoiding running into a scam. What we feel like advising you, however, is a healthy dose of caution: although the condition of some used watches might seem attractive, the deal may not always be so convenient. So what we feel like advising you is to evaluate, first and foremost, the seller's reputation. And this depends on many different factors: whether it is a private individual or a company, for example, and whether it has made verifiable transactions in the past. 

preowned watch

Best places to buy used luxury watches

Instead of making a list of trustworthy sites, we prefer to show you a method for doing this checking yourself.

As we have said, the first criterion for deciding the best source for buying a used watch is reliability. It follows that to be on the safe side, the best seller is usually a company instead of a private individual.

Numerous sites on the Internet allow one to check the reliability of a company: the best known is undoubtedly TrustPilot, which uses user reports to give a reliability score to sales or service sites.

In addition, an online search with the theme "X site review" will give you a lot of insight into the opinions of registered users on the Web. Again, take this indication as a clue, not proof: this is certainly a valuable element in determining whether a sales site is trustworthy.

Remember that payments must be offered by traditional traceable means: thus, wire transfer or credit card payments. You better look elsewhere if the only payments accepted are by money transfer or cryptocurrency.

A little trick to doing good business

How do you deal directly with a watch manufacturer and save money, sometimes considerably? Although it seems impossible, there is a little-known way that could allow us to combine safety with savings: the so-called NOS watches. This acronym stands for New Old Stock and refers to watches that are perhaps out of production but never worn.

Manufacturers sometimes have stocks of these watches that have ended up being discontinued or updated with a new model, and for this reason, they offer these timepieces in excellent condition. If you look hard enough, in many Maison e-commerce, as is the case with Davosa, there are special sections that offer these timepieces, and the discounts you can get are definitely worth the search since these are new watches and guaranteed by the parent company, and available directly. In short, it seems like the ideal solution that allows you to combine savings and security.

Main Takeaways

Some trepidation always accompanies the purchase of a new watch, and as much as this is done through the purchase of a second-wrist watch, this trepidation grows out of all proportion.

For playing it safe, there is the possibility of dealing directly with the manufacturers, as we reported above, and thus, being able to take home the desired watch on terms that are difficult to repeat, with all the security of dealing with those who made that watch in the first place.


The Davosa-USA.com website is NOT affiliated in any way with Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller USA, Inc. Richard Mille or Richemont Companies, Seiko, or any other brand which is not Davosa Swiss. Rolex is a registered trademark of Rolex USA. Davosa-USA website is not an authorized dealer, reseller, or distributor for Rolex and is in NO WAY affiliated with Rolex SA or Rolex USA or any other brand besides Davosa Swiss.
December 16, 2022 — Davosa Editor

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