What to Consider When Buying a Used Watch

In the world of luxury products, we’re always on the lookout for scammers. Used luxury watch sales are no exception. 

We’ve seen a slowdown in the number of new luxury watches being made each year. In response, we’ve seen an increase in the number of used watch sales, particularly in the luxury market. 

Buying a used watch can save you money without sacrificing quality or brand. However, you’re going to want to do some research before you dive in and buy a watch online or at a secondhand shop. As long as you know what to look for, you won’t fall prey to a scammer.

Read on as we go over everything you need to know when buying a used watch.

Start With Some Brand and Model Research

Not everyone feels committed to a certain brand or a certain line of watches and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with shopping around and seeing what styles tend to catch your eye and who’s making the types of watches you’d want to wear.

Still, we do recommend doing a bit of research. For example, if you know you’d be inclined to buy Rolex, find out how much different used and vintage Rolex watches are going for, how rare they are, how old they are, and so forth.

Be Wary of Too-Good-to-be-True Prices

This is where you’re market research comes in handy. Yes, a used watch can cost less than a new watch–depending on all of the factors we’ve mentioned above. If a watch is particularly rare, for example, you may find yourself looking at some pretty big price tags.

If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone says they are selling a mint condition watch for hundreds of dollars less than the rest of the market, don’t take the bait. Fakes are getting more and more indiscernible to the untrained eye, so steering clear of uber-low prices is your best bet. 

Get to Know the Seller Before You Buy the Watch

If you’re new to the used watch buying community, you may not know an important adage: buy the seller, not the watch. What, exactly, does this mean?

When you can trust your watch seller, you can worry less about getting scammed. Do some detective work and assess a seller’s online presence. If they have great reviews that date back a few years, a functional website, and detailed listings, you’re on the right path.

Take Note of Return Policies

A trustworthy seller will offer a fair deal if your watch turns out to have some notable problems. Common return policies include exchanges or store credit or full refunds if your watch shows up defective. 

In addition to any guarantees provided by the seller, look for trustworthy payment software, especially if you’re buying watches online. PayPal is a good example of payment software that protects users from fraud. 

Do You Need the Watch Box and Papers?

The watch box and papers are items that can provide authenticity when purchasing a used watch. Some buyers claim that you should never buy a used watch without them. Is that true?

It’s important to think about how old the watch is that you hope to buy. Pre-1980s watches are considered vintage and it’s not uncommon for the original owners to have lost track of the watch box and papers over the years. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that we started placing a huge emphasis on the importance of these items.

If you can, by all means, purchase a watch that comes with its original box and papers. If a pre-1980s watch doesn’t, don’t sweat it. By following the other buying tips in this guide, you can still feel confident about authenticity.

Keep an Eye on Quality

The condition of the watch you’re considering buying is important, especially when assessing whether or not the asking price is fair. Used watches are bound to have some amount of wear and tear and some even prefer a watch that’s “broken in.” However, any wear and tear should lead to a lowered price.

Look for signs of scratches and blemishes on the watch face. Check the bracelet to see if it is stretched out, if the links are broken or worn, and if it still has the original buckle or clasp. Finally, look for signs that the watch is over-polished, which can cause unnecessary wear. 

Ultimately, you want to ensure that the watch is a sound investment. Is it going to last for several years without a ton of maintenance? Will it stay on your wrist or slip off?

Ask for Service History

Service history tells you what repairs or alterations the watch has undergone and by whom. Ask a used watch seller if they can provide the service history for you. The most ideal situation is that the watch has received service from the company or a specialist in that brand’s watches.

If you can’t obtain the service history from the seller and still want to buy the watch, that’s fine. Once again, make sure there’s a good return policy. Then, take the watch to a professional watch repairman as soon as you receive it to make sure that there are no glaring issues that the seller overlooked.

Buy Your Used Watch the Right Way

Used watch sales, especially luxury used watch sales, are on the rise. Buying a used watch is a great way to get the exact watch you’ve always wanted without breaking the bank. With this buying guide, you can protect yourself from potential scams and make a solid investment.

Money management is key when you’re investing in luxury assets. Take a look at our money management section to discover more ways that you can protect your finances even when making big purchases.

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