Advice on Buying or Selling a Luxury Watch

Buying and Selling luxury branded watchesBuying a previously owned watch is definitely not a second best option when it comes to luxury watches.

Brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Jeagre-LeCoultre, Cartier, Breitling, Omega and TAG Heuer create watches which are designed to be handed down from generation to generation, their design and style is often timeless and does not go out of fashion over time.

Personally I love to have pre-owned vintage jewellery and watches, as they have the wonderful patina of love and careful use which makes them into truly special items.

Buying a Luxury Watch

There are some general tips for buying a vintage watch, which will ensure that you find the exact watch which is right for you.

Decide What You Want

Are you looking for a sporting watch with all the bells and whistles to allow you to travel through time zones, dive into the deep, time your morning run and more? Or are you looking for something with timeless elegance, which will go beautifully with your classic tweed suit? Or perhaps something in between?

Ask yourself what are the “must haves” and the “would like to haves” and write those down, so you can use them as a check list when you make your selection.

Do Your Research

There are many online sites which have lots of information about watches. Spend time checking them out, this applies whether buying or selling!

Look at reviews, read up on the history of watch making companies, and familiarise yourself with the technology of vintage and collectable watches.

In particular, learn about the differing mechanisms that watches have, look for reports on reliability of older watches, and get a feel for prices.

Decide On Your Budget

You’ll soon be drawn to a certain type of watch, and a range of brands, or perhaps just a single brand, will speak to you more than do the others.

Now is the time to decide on your budget. If the watch of your dreams in going to run to £15,000, but your budget is only £10,000, you need to either dream a different dream or start saving!

A watch can be an excellent investment, and part of your research should be about how well the watches you like hold their value.

Although you should never buy a watch just for investment, if you feel that it will be part of your wealth portfolio, then perhaps it is worth stretching that budget just a little to get the watch that you a really going to enjoy owning.

Find The Best Places To Buy

There are many places to turn when you want to buy a vintage or luxury watch.

High end pawn shops are a good place to look, as are high end jewellers, who almost invariably have a stock of vintage and pre-owned watches and jewellery, even if it isn’t on display.

Specialist watch auctions attract collectors, and if you are a beginner, it can be hard to find a bargain. Local general auctions and estate auctions can be a happier hunting ground if you are fore-armed with a little knowledge, but you do need to beware and be careful what you are buying, obviously you need to know how to spot fakes, but also the condition of the watch as well.

Online auctions are another possibility, but have the drawback that you can’t examine the goods before you buy.

However, most online auction sites have a good customer feedback and rating policy, and sellers will offer money back guarantees. You might pick up a bargain, but online buyers tend to be pretty savvy, so it’s more likely that you will pay market price.

You can also buy online from luxury and pre-owned watch retailers, and this is a good route to go down.

What To Look Out For

Whenever you buy a vintage piece of any kind, there is one overwhelmingly important thing to consider – condition.

If you are buying a watch to wear and use, you must purchase one that is in perfect working order, and if possible, with a good guarantee. The skills for repairing older watches are rapidly vanishing, and the cost of fine watch repairs is very high.

If you are buying for investment, rather than the simple pleasure of owning something lovely, then not only should the watch be in perfect working order, but signs of wear should be minimal.

Check in particular clasps and buckles. Scratched faces can in some instances be replaced, but be careful when making replacements, as this can affect any future resale value.


Remember that watches are sometimes not covered in general insurance policies, so you should ensure that your watch is insured from the moment you get it.

In The End, Buy What Pleases You.

It’s important that you buy, not just with investment in mind, but taking into consideration your own personal pleasure and satisfaction.

You should glance down at your wrist and not see an investment, but a beautiful piece of the watchmaker’s craft that you truly enjoy owning.

Selling a Luxury Watch

If you have a luxury watch to sell then there are various options that you have open to you.

First of all it’s a great idea to check around online to find secondhand watch dealers who stock the brand you have to sell, and to find the exact same model so that you have a real idea of how much your watch is worth.

Once you have an idea then you can look at the best place to sell it.

Local Jewellers: I would not recommend local jewellers or pawn brokers because they will not have the reputation, name, or clientele to be able to easily sell a luxury watch easily and quickly.

Because of this they may have to keep it in stock for a long time, which ties up their money, and so the price they are likely to offer you (even if they know it’s true value) is likely to be far lower than you could get elsewhere.

Online Auctions: Online auctions are a great place to get your watch in front of the right people, that is to say people who want to buy the brand and model of watch that you have to sell, but you have to be prepared again to get quite a low price compared to the real value of your watch.

The reason for this is twofold.

Firstly with online auctions you have fees to pay, often a 10% final value fee, plus listing fees, plus a fee if you want to put a reserve on your watch (which I would HIGHLY recommend), and then if you are paid by a payment processor like Paypal there will be additional fees of 5%+ on top of that.

Secondly it is sadly true that online auctions have become fertile ground for conmen, thieves, and cheats, and the vast majority of watches that you see advertised on these kinds of sites will be low quality fakes that are being passed off as the genuine article.

So at an online auction you will almost certainly get a far lower price than you could elsewhere.

Auction Houses: You could sell at your local antiques or collectable auction house, but again there is the problem of commission (which is usually around 20%) that you will have to pay them, and of course you are putting a specialised item in front of a very limited and small audience, so an auction, unless it is a specialist watch auction, is not a good idea.

Used Watch Dealers: Possibly the best idea is to find a dealer that specialises in selling used luxury watches and sell to them.

While you won’t get the price you see the same brand and model offered for sale on their website, since they need to make a profit and your watch will need servicing and perhaps repairing before it can be sold on, you will almost certainly get the best price from a specialist watch dealer like this.

They do have a name and reputation for selling high end watches, they have a regular audience and customer list of people who buy and want to buy these kinds of watches, and so it is unlikely that they will have to hold onto the watches for very long before they sell them.

Because of this they will usually offer you a very fair price and will be able to pay you in cash if you require it, which gets rid of the costs associated with the alternative methods of selling.

I would therefore recommend trying a company that deals in used and vintage luxury watches, since this is where you are likely to get the fastest and easiest sale, and the best price too.