Reading this article would mean you are a watch enthusiast who is ready to jump and buy a serious watch (if you haven’t had one yet). Needless to say, buying luxury watches can burn a hole in your pocket. But having a limited budget for a timepiece doesn’t mean you can’t have a high-end watch on your wrist. 

Before we start, you must know some facts about the market on pre-owned watches. You must be clear on what type of watch you are looking for. What year was it made? If it is earlier than 1980s then you are looking for a “vintage” piece. You might need an expert to personally explain how it works and if it is actually in good condition. Vintage pieces could be out of production and might have some depreciation that is invisible to untrained eyes. 

It is hard to find a used watch with no depreciation, but it will be up to you on how much depreciation is acceptable. Like buying a second-hand car, you need to know how to find the one that best fits your wants and needs.

Ask About The Service History

Servicing a mechanical watch is not cheap. It is good to try and ask the seller for the service invoice. If there is no available invoice, you can assume that the watch never received a service overhaul. 

Now, you need to consider paying for this service yourself to make sure that your watch will work just fine and will last longer though it is second hand. Add the possible cost of service to the watch’s price before deciding if itis worth the purchase.

To find the service cost, you can visit your local watchmaker or an authorized dealer. And while you are at it, you can also ask if they can service the watch you are planning to buy.

Look For Complete Set

If you are buying a vintage watch around 30 years old. You will have little luck finding the original box and manuals. It seems that people used to care less about any reason to keep them.

Nowadays, watch packages are given intricate designs too. Some are in carved wooden boxes while others are in leather boxes. Even the warranty cards looked fancy. Try to look for the complete set as much as you can.

And if you get a hold of it, make sure that it is the right accessories. It is typical for watch brands to use several box designs for specific watches. 

Inspect for Dents and Scratches

Damages may go deeper than the visible scratches and dents. Every wristwatch is meant to be worn so it will be a pity if they are just kept in a box. Though a watch is not worn every day, they are bound to have scratches and dents. There could be hairline scratches, occasional dents or pitiful deep scratches.

Now, if you see these deep dents, remember that it could not only be the case that’s affected. 

If a watch like this had serious dents, then the impact has most likely affected the mechanical movement inside. It is most likely that the watch was dropped and landed on the hard surface. 

Another thing to remember is to inspect the dial and hands for any sign of corrosion. If these parts have corrosions, then you should ask the seller if you could see the movement. Make sure that the movement does not have any signs of corrosion, dents, and scratches.

Modified Watches

If you want to start collecting modified watches or a modified unique one caught your eye, then you can purchase it depending on how new the watch is and how much was spent on its modifications.

Most watch modders are likely to change the bezel and bezel insert, dial or crystal dome. Since the main objective of watch modding is to personalize the watch, make sure that you are comfortable with its style, strap, and size.

It is also worth a shot to ask if the seller is able to save the original watch parts. Most watch modders replace parts to fit their personal taste. It is most likely that the original parts are still in good condition.

The price of the watch will be solely between you and the seller since a modded watch can be unique and it is hard to find out the specific market price for it.

Buy From Legit Seller

While there are now more online platforms selling preowned watches, buy only from a legitimate seller or reputable retailer. There are still some aftermarket sellers who would try to sell imitated watches. 

It is best to find an online seller with a brick and mortar shop that you can visit before making a purchase. You can also visit various forums on different platforms to ask around about the shop that you are planning to buy from.

Reputable stores would have positive reviews from other watch enthusiasts in the area. Ask questions about the originality of the watch. It is worth a try to ask for the original invoice or receipt. It will also be helpful if the seller has a photo of the movement.

This is because some sellers are not comfortable taking off the steel caseback. Remember that these watches are sensitive to dust. So you must avoid opening the case back as much as possible.

Take your time to gently fiddle on the watch and inspect for any signs of abuse. Check the quality of printing. Are some parts of the numbers fading? Are there visibly deep scratches?  It may be an old-style, but handling the second-hand watch personally before making a purchase is the best way to know if it is worth it. 

Final Words

Expect your watch hunting to take some time. It may even mean an enormous amount of footwork. But spending time knowing more about the watch you want and inspecting the timepiece will increase the chance that you will keep your wristwatch for a long time. 


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