What Is A Pre-Owned Luxury Watch? Understanding Timepiece Conditions

What Is A Pre-Owned Luxury Watch? Understanding Timepiece Conditions

Watch collectors have many terms that might seem a bit alien to newcomers. It might seem pretty obvious what a pre-owned watch is, but, when you hear about pre-owned and vintage watches, you may begin to wonder what the difference is.

A watch 20 to 25 years old (or older) would typically be considered a vintage watch. A watch newer than that would be considered pre-owned if it was not brand new from a dealer.

If you are still unsure about what kind of condition you can expect vintage or pre-owned watches to be in, keep reading. I cover everything you need to know about luxury brand pre-owned watches and whether they are the right option for you.

Understanding the Conditions of Pre-Owned Luxury Watches

Understanding the condition a pre-owned watch might come in is a huge factor when buying a watch.

Take a look below where I will explain the different categories watches can be sold in.

Brand New Luxury Watches

The first option, and typically the entry point of a luxury watch into the public market, is brand-new luxury watches.

Brand-new watches are available from luxury watch brands and their official retailers aka authorised dealer. This allows watch brands to have greater control over their distribution.

Official retailers make deals with luxury watch brands that ensure they receive stock of the most desirable watches. These deals can also include less popular watches.

This additional inventory can then be sold to other dealers. This is what is known in the world of watches as the “Secondary Market”. The secondary market is legal and allows other legitimate businesses to sell brand-new luxury watches.

Pre-owned Luxury Watches

Luxury brand pre-owned timepieces are also available on the secondary market. This allows watch collectors to purchase pre-owned timepieces from legitimate sources.

Pre-owned is a nicer way of saying second-hand watches, but they ultimately mean the same thing. There are several pre-owned categories you should be aware of.

At Global Boutique we only sell watches that are unworn, mint, or like new.

Rolex Daytona

Different pre-owned categories will determine the condition and value of a watch. These pre-owned categories include:


Just because a watch has been pre-owned it does not mean that it has been worn. It is possible to find unworn pre-owned luxury watches that come with their original box and documentation.

Unworn pre-owned watches will typically have been bought by collectors and kept safe. Watches are often seen as an investment and keeping them in mint condition will help that investment grow or hold value.


  • Great condition
  • Can include paperwork
  • Great for collectors


  • More difficult to find
  • Higher price

Like New

Like new pre-owned watches may have been worn or displayed. However, there will be no visible sign of wear and they will still be in great condition.

Slight discolouration can occur in storage in some cases.


  • Not as expensive as unworn watches
  • Great condition


  • Can still command high prices
  • Can suffer from discolouration


A mint condition watch will not have any cosmetic blemishes. This includes any scratches, nicks, or dents. However, in theory they could have some minor hairline scratches from handling. A trustworthy watch dealer will always point these out to you.

The case, bracelet or strap, and buckle will all be in this condition.


  • Great condition
  • Lower prices as it will be worn


  • Not unworn
  • Still at the high end of pre-owned watch prices


A pre-owned watch in excellent condition may show minimal signs of wear. No major damage will be present or noticeable.


  • Signs of wear only visible on close inspection
  • Lower cost


  • The watch will have minor signs of wear

Very Good

Like the excellent condition of pre-owned watches, very good signifies slight signs of wear. The visibility of these signs will be slightly more noticeable than a pre-owned watch in excellent condition.

Any signs of wear will be minimal. No major imperfections will be present on the case, bracelet, or fastener.


  • No major imperfections
  • Lower price for a luxury watch that still looks great


  • Signs of wear are more visible than previous options


Good condition of pre-worn watches indicates that signs of wear are visible. However, no major imperfections like dents or deep scratches should be present.


  • Affordable price
  • No major imperfections


  • Noticeably worn


A pre-owned watch in fair condition will be visibly worn. There may also be noticeable scratches or dents on the case, strap, or buckle.

The watch may also show signs of discolouration or ageing. However, the watch should still be structurally intact.


  • Low price
  • Watch should be in working order


  • Watch may be scratched or dented
  • Obvious worn condition


Pre-owned watches in poor condition will typically require significant work. They will show obvious signs of wear and may be damaged or scratched.

They may not have the original papers or box and need to be serviced or repaired.


  • Low price
  • Good for spares
  • Good for projects


  • Will require work
  • Poor condition with obvious defects

Man holding a Rolex

Second-Hand or Used Luxury Watches

Second-hand luxury watches will typically be worn models that can be more difficult to authenticate. The second-hand watch market offers buyers great opportunities, but it also comes with risks.

Buying from the grey market means you can buy from a legitimate source. This source will typically have experts to authenticate and provide provenance.

Buying second-hand from an untrusted source is significantly riskier. Choosing the right seller is every bit as important as choosing the right watch when buying second-hand.

It can be a great way to buy a statement piece that you want to wear. If you are buying a watch as an investment, you must ensure you have the correct paperwork and evidence of its authenticity.

Vintage Luxury Watches

The exact age of vintage luxury watches is up for debate. I would advise anything before 1995 is considered vintage.

A vintage luxury watch will typically show its age. It may have been regularly worn and has started to fade or patinate.

Global Boutique does not currently sell vintage watches, but we acknowledge and appreciate their importance in the luxury watch industry.

Do These Differences Matter?

The difference between buying brand new, pre-owned, or second-hand matters depending on your purpose for the watch.

Buying brand-new luxury brand watches from the brand or their chosen retailer is a great option for watch collectors. This ensures the watch is in the best condition possible and comes with the original box and authentication papers.

The downside is that it can sometimes be challenging to do this. This is because the luxury watch market is extremely popular and many major luxury brands have long waiting lists for their new releases.

It could also be that a watch you desire has been discontinued or already sold out. If this is the case, exploring the grey market can be beneficial. Buying brand-new watches that are no longer available or discontinued is made possible by this wonderful option.

You will have peace of mind knowing you are buying from a legitimate seller. You will also be able to get authentic original boxes and paperwork.

Buying second-hand can also be a great backup for those looking for a particular brand or model. But, it’s worth noting that buying second-hand is riskier than the grey market and you must trust the seller.

Are Watches Hard to Find Brand New?

Some luxury watch brands can be more challenging to find than others. Particular models can be even more challenging, with waiting lists for new models that can run into years. Some luxury watch brands with extensive waiting lists for new models include:

  • Patek Philippe
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Rolex
  • Richard Mille

It can be almost impossible, and stressful trying to find stock at an official retailer. It can become even more difficult when a model is discontinued. This is where high-quality pre-owned watch sellers come in handy.

Global Boutique pre-owned luxury watches provides a trustworthy resource for all of our customers. We stock an extensive range of men’s and women’s watches from the best luxury brands, including:

  • Rolex
  • Patek Philippe
  • Breitling
  • Cartier
  • Zenith
  • Audemars Piguet
  • F.P. Journe
  • Richard Mille

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Why are Pre-owned Watches Sometimes More Expensive than Retail?

In some cases, you might find that pre-owned watches are more expensive than their original retail price. This could be down to rarity or provenance.

A watch with an interesting past that can be proven may have a higher value than the same watch with a normal background.

Why You Should Only Buy from a Seller That You Trust

Buying a pre-owned watch can help you find the exact model you are looking for at a competitive price. But you must be sure the watch is as it seems.

The value of a watch is determined by several factors. A watch that has been repaired without original parts may decrease in value.

Counterfeit goods are also manufactured to an incredibly high standard. In some cases, they may even fool some watch experts.

Buying from a trusted source like Global Boutique will provide peace of mind. This is because you will be provided with the watch documentation.

Do You Need an Original Watch Box and Papers?

A pre-owned watch with its original watch box and papers will typically be more sought after. This is because it will be a more complete package for the buyer and provide evidence of its legitimacy.

Because of this, a pre-owned watch with its original box and papers will be more valuable.

However, the importance of this will be entirely down to the buyer. If they are on the lookout for a good deal, a watch on its own will typically be sold for less.

If you are buying pre-owned watches as an investment, the original box and papers will improve the value.

What to Consider When Buying a Pre-Owned Luxury Watch?

If you are interested in buying luxury brand pre-owned watches, there are a few things you should consider.

I have compiled this list to make it easier for you to invest in a pre-owned Cartier, second-hand Omega, or vintage luxury timepiece of your choosing.


You must ensure the watch and components are authentic to ensure you’re paying the right price for preowned watches.

Checking for signs of tampering or requesting a certificate of authenticity from a reputable third-party grading service is advised.


We have discussed in length the different conditions of pre-owned watches. Only you will be able to decide the condition you will accept. Always check with the seller whether any work has been carried out to improve the condition.


Many people will have a preferred watch brand. This is especially true if they own a watch collection.

Buying pre-owned watches allows you the opportunity to buy rare models from luxury brands more easily.


You must always check the operation of the watch to ensure it is functioning properly. Even watches in mint condition should be checked in case of internal issues.

Service History

Checking the service history of a pre-owned watch will let you see what repairs it has undergone. This will show you how the watch has been looked after.


The price will always be a significant consideration when buying luxury brand pre-owned watches. Checking the current market value will help you find a fair price.

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Always be extra vigilant when purchasing a watch for a good price.

Seller Reputation

Buying from the grey market lets you buy from legitimate sources that are brand certified. You should always check reviews and testimonials of a watch seller to ensure they are trustworthy.

Final Thoughts

Buying luxury brand pre-owned watches can be an excellent way to find rare or discontinued models. It also allows buyers to avoid long waiting lists for these pre-owned timepieces.

Pre-owned timepieces can be a worthwhile investment and are available in a range of conditions. This includes everything from brand-new watches in original boxes to those in poor condition.

If the watch model you’re seeking isn’t available in our online shop, feel free to reach out to us through our Watch Sourcing Service or chat with us on WhatsApp. We can typically locate most watches within a day.

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