The modern watch industry landscape is a broad and intimidating thing. When first countenanced, it can strike fear and uncertainty into the heart of even the most seasoned shopper. You may be asking yourself questions like, “What is the best watch for the money?” Or you are wondering what the difference is between a watch that costs $100 or a $100,000 one.
It seems baffling that watches can command such ginormous sums of money. Especially considering that they are basically obsolete tools thanks to the fact your phone has a more accurate time readout than most luxury, especially mechanical watches. And the fact that the men and women who collect these ticking treasures do not seem to bat an eyelid at the genuinely eye-watering sums bandied around.
And yet, the more you dig into the subject, the more you realize there is some kind of rationale to the pricing structure. Even if the concept of luxury tax comes into play while discussing those stratospherically expensive watches, it is still a bit of a woolly and maddening concept.
The difference in quality between an entry-level watch (anything from about $100–$1,500) to a mid-level luxury watch (around $1,500–$3,000) is vast. The step-up to the next arbitrarily drawn level that runs from about 3K to the five-figure field is perhaps less immediately obvious. However, a little experience will enable you to determine exactly why whatever it is that has caught your eye is or isn’t worth that sum.
But what if you have found the watch you want and you find that it's completely out of your price range? Obviously, you could save up for it over a long period of time. But, due to the direction the luxury watch market is heading, it's not unlikely that the watch will continue to appreciate while you’re doing your best to chase it down.
One option to consider (and you really should) is to buy a second-hand watch. In the industry, slightly more savory terms like pre-owned or even pre-loved are often used, but they essentially mean the same thing. It encompasses watches that have passed through more than one owner before entering your collection.
However, unlike in many other areas, being second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean a watch will have gone down in value. I am sure you have heard of people investing in watches before. Certain brands (like the very famous one with the crown on the dial) are known to be as safe a bet for value retention as any physical asset out there. While experts rarely advise anyone to buy a luxury watch as nothing but an investment (and, instead, to purchase one as an emotional investment with money they can afford to lose), it cannot be denied that certain brands and models have a tendency to perform very well over long stretches of time.
Let’s assume, though, that you haven't fallen for a sky-rocketing safe queen and have, instead, chosen a humbler watch that you simply want to wear. Should you think about buying it even if it has been used (and sometimes abused) by someone else?
The simple answer is yes. There is nothing inherently wrong with buying a second-hand watch, especially if it isn’t too old. Even if it has suffered noticeable wear and tear, most manufacturers are more than capable of refinishing their products to a like-new standard. Most good-quality brands keep parts for older watches on file for a couple of decades, at least. Therefore, you can be relatively confident that a repair or refurbishment will be possible. As I always say, “anything that has been made can be remade.” The likelihood of whipping a beaten and neglected beater into shape through service and polish is high
It is wise, however, to check with the brand directly before purchasing. This is especially true if the watch is severely beaten, old, or has clearly had water ingress. Any good seller will communicate a watch’s problems honestly. So you should be able to furnish the brand with all the information it needs to provide a firm answer as to whether buying the watch is a sound decision or not.
And that leads us to the most important point: communication. If you find a watch you like on the pre-loved market, do your research and ask many questions. Good quality sellers are knowledgeable and patient. If you run into one that isn’t, don’t let yourself be bullied into buying a product you don’t feel comfortable with. Many collectors use the motto, “Buy the seller, not the watch.” Following this advice can result in the forging of long-term relationships between you and a seller who could become a rich vein of interest long-term.
Shopping for second-hand watches can be a lot of fun. Few things in this hobby beat the thrill of unearthing a hidden, forgotten, or generally unloved gem that speaks loudly to you. Old, discontinued models usually catch a second wind in terms of the cool factor at some point. At some point, what is currently passé will once again be seen as classy. If you are the kind of person that likes to zig when everyone else zags, buying a top-quality watch “out of era” might be an excellent way to subvert current trends and make a real statement of “informed rejection of the norm.”
It is possible to find some real bargains on the pre-loved market. Jomashop has a large selection of pre-owned watches that offer some interesting value propositions. Buying pre-loved from an established online retailer with after-sales connections and a long and proven track record in customer service makes the whole process easier. Our highly-trained and knowledgeable concierge team are here to help put customers’ minds at ease, whether this is their first or fiftieth purchase alike.
Watchmaking is a slow industry: nothing changes but time. So make sure you take yours when making a decision. If you are seeking a watch in high demand, you probably will have to act quickly but never buy against your instincts. If it takes some time to get comfortable with a purchase, it is worth allowing yourself that. In doing so, you limit the chances of disappointment. Be sure of what you are buying, from whom, and what to expect when you get the watch in hand for the first time.
If you’re patient, inquisitive, and perhaps a little bit lucky you can find your perfect model lurking on the pre-loved market for an affordable price. In doing so, you’ll find you have all the tools you need to have an enjoyable and rewarding time as a second-hand watch buyer