Buying Pre-Owned Luxury Watches – The Complete Guide

Rolex Day Date Yellow Gold President watch with rainbow dial on colourful background

If the allure of a luxurious timepiece has caught your attention, you’re not alone. But how can you get your hands on one of these beloved pieces? The answer: buying pre-owned.

Not only do pre-owned luxury watches offer a chance to own a prestigious timepiece, but they also carry a unique history and character.

But the elephant in the room remains – luxury watches come with hefty price tags, making them a target for scammers. The second-hand watch market is bustling, which unfortunately means more opportunities for selling counterfeit watches.

The good news is there are trustworthy resellers out there, including ourselves here at Global Boutique. This guide will help you confidently navigate the second-hand watch market and buy your first pre-owned watch.

Why Buy Pre-Owned?

Luxury watches hold a special charm that goes beyond function. From their exclusivity to their materials, there’s a global fascination with watches.

Setting aside supply and demand, the craftsmanship and timelessness of these watches often come with hefty price tags. Thankfully, buying pre-owned luxury watches offers a clever alternative, with numerous advantages over getting them brand new.

  • Immediate availability: One major perk of pre-owned watches is their immediate availability. Often, sought-after luxury timepieces are incredibly hard to come by from authorised dealers. This scarcity leads many enthusiasts and collectors to turn to reputable resellers where frustratingly long waitlist times don’t exist. You can get the watch you want right away from reputable resellers.
  • Value retention and appreciation: As you might know, many luxury watches hold their value remarkably well, and some even increase in value over time.
  • Discontinued charm: Sometimes, your dream watch isn’t within reach because it’s out of production. In these cases, the pre-owned market offers buyers opportunities for excellent deals and investments. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across someone else wearing the same watch. This rarity is what makes these types of watches incredibly special and unique.

In a nutshell, pre-owned luxury watches attract attention not just because of their immediate availability and high demand but also their potential as valuable assets. However, it’s important to be careful in this growing market to secure the best deals and avoid problems.

How To Buy Your Pre-Owned Luxury Watch

Rolex Daytona with Sundust dial on it's box

Nowadays, luxury watches in pre-owned categories are available in a range of options. Rare and discontinued timepieces from renowned watch brands, in particular, have gained immense popularity.

But with this popularity, and the growing used luxury watches market, comes scams. The increased demand has created an opportunity for scammers to introduce a new type of fake watch known as the “super-clone,” which is so convincing that even experienced watchmakers can be fooled.

So, there are important considerations to keep in mind before buying a pre-owned watch.

1. Do your research on watch models

The first major step to buying a pre-owned watch is to do your research on the watch model. This can actually be quite enjoyable as you learn more about its history.

Most importantly, this knowledge helps you spot the different versions of the watch you’re interested in and understand their unique characteristics. It will help you identify any common issues related to authenticity and originality.

As for which watch models are the best to buy pre-owned, this will depend on the purpose. If you’re looking at it as an investment, focus on models that have shown a history of retaining or increasing their value, such as pre-owned Rolex models. But if your goal is to wear and enjoy the watch, your criteria might be more about finding something that suits your style and taste.

If you’re eager to discover specific watch models that hold strong investment potential, you might find our blog post on the best watches to invest in particularly insightful.

2. How important are the box and papers?

Don’t overlook the importance of having all the right documents, accessories, and of course, the original box. This not only supports the watch’s authenticity but can potentially increase the watch’s value.

The original documents should be the ones that came with the watch when it left the factory, and any service history notes should be included if available.

While having the full set (including the user manual, authenticity certificate, warranty card, and box) can affect the price, the absence of these items doesn’t necessarily mean the watch is fake.

3. Only use a reputable reseller

Salesperson wearing gloves presenting a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712/1A in its box

Trusting the seller is paramount. While some brands now offer certified pre-owned watches through their boutiques and authorised dealers, ensuring authenticity outside of these sources can be challenging. But, there are effective ways to determine a seller’s trustworthiness.

Begin by looking into the seller’s online presence. Do they have a dedicated website? Are there verified reviews from customers available online? Use online forums to learn what other buyers have to say.

If you’re shopping online, you can request pictures and details about the watch’s history from the sellers. Trustworthy watch sellers with a strong reputation will readily provide you with the history of a watch without hesitation.

4. Only buy from resellers who grant a warranty on their luxury watches

The seller’s warranty and return policy are essential to consider when investing a significant amount of money. Some sellers might claim they’ve serviced a watch, but it’s crucial to make sure those who worked on it were skilled and used genuine parts.

Take us here at Global Boutique, for example. We offer warranties on all our luxury watches, including worn and pre-owned watches.

5. Be careful with too-good-to-be-true-deals

The days of finding a Rolex or Patek Philippe at a fraction of its retail price are unfortunately long gone. So, it’s important to research the specific watch you’re interested in and understand its current value in the pre-owned market.

Be cautious of watches that are exceptionally underpriced – if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Such watches might be stolen, fake, damaged, or assembled from various components, often referred to as a “Frankenstein” watch.

6. Make sure you understand the returns and shipping policy

A reliable seller should provide the option of a full refund if any issues arise. If your purchase doesn’t meet your expectations, you should have the option to return the watch.

Sometimes, pre-owned watches may appear impressive online but don’t align with your preferences when they arrive. A trustworthy seller understands this and should provide you with a hassle-free option.

Buying Pre-Owned Luxury Watches Online Or In-Store?

You have two options to buy a pre-owned watch: online platforms or in-store. At Global Boutique, we offer both avenues for your convenience, with a brick-and-mortar store located in the heart of Mayfair, London.

Shopping for pre-owned watches online comes with perks, including a vast selection of watches. You can explore various luxury watch brands, models, and styles – even finding rare and discontinued timepieces.

In-store allows for your own personalised shopping experience. You can see and touch the watch in person, examining its condition, details, and craftsmanship. You’ll also receive expert guidance and valuable insights about the watch you’re interested in from the in-store staff.

Whether you prefer to buy online or in-store, both options provide avenues for finding your perfect (and authentic) pre-owned timepiece.


Which brands of pre-owned watches are the best to invest in?

The resale value of a watch depends on factors like the model, authenticity, and brand. Pre-owned watches from Rolex and Patek Philippe maintain strong demand and retain their value well. On the other hand, brands like Tag Heuer for example, might not hold as much value.

Some of the best investment watch brands that retain their value in the second-hand market include Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, and Vacheron Constantin.

What condition can I expect a pre-owned luxury watch to be in?

The condition of pre-owned luxury watches can vary widely. Some pre-owned watches may exhibit signs of wear, such as minor scratches, while others might be in nearly pristine, like-new condition. If you’re purchasing online, read the detailed descriptions and images of the pre-owned watch provided by the seller.

Find Your Dream Pre-Owned Watch at Global Boutique

The reception area at Global Boutique in Mayfair with a seating area and pre-owned luxury watches on display

The rising appeal of pre-owned watches has led many to choose these second-hand gems over their expensive counterparts. Used luxury watches not only offer you style and sophistication without breaking the bank, but they are also a smart investment.

For the best selection and prices, explore our collection of pre-owned luxury watches at Global Boutique. From used Rolex watches to pre-owned Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, you’ll find a range of men’s and women’s watches that speak to your taste.

And, if your desired model isn’t listed on our website, don’t worry – our dedicated watch-sourcing service will work its magic to find that special timepiece for you!

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