Second Hand Watch

The Complete Guide to Buying a Second Hand Watch

Now you can listen to us read this article!


When it comes to buying a second hand watch, many veterans often advise newcomers to the hobby to go second hand for their first major watch purchase. This can dramatically decrease the cost of your watch investment and can also open your eyes to a huge market of dramatic statement pieces. 

Second hand watches can be acquired either through local advertisements or online auction houses. Inspecting the watch and using a reputable vendor are both recommended methods for getting the most out of a used watch purchase. Care must be taken to avoid buying stolen or fraudulent watches.   

Buying a second hand watch can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re looking for a luxury brand. But buyer beware – there are several risks that can lead to you purchasing a broken or worthless watch. Keep reading to learn all about how to successfully buy a second hand watch

Why Buy a Second Hand Watch? 

If you’re just starting to look into the process of buying a second hand watch, the first question you’re probably asking yourself is this: Why would you want to buy a watch second hand to begin with?

The biggest advantage to getting a used watch is that you can get a high-value or luxury accessory for a steep discount compared to buying one of these watches new. Since mechanical watches are meant to last for decades with proper maintenance, you can still get a like-new watch for a very good value by searching second hand items. 

Here are a few more reasons why you might consider buying a used watch: 

  • Variety of options: Searching the used watch market rather than seeking out a new watch allows you to search among hundreds of different brands and models that you wouldn’t have access to if you were only willing to purchase new.
  • Convenience: Buying a second hand watch online allows you to go watch shopping from the comfort of home. You can even have your new (used) watch delivered directly to your front door.
  • Saved costs: You can get up to seventy percent off the retail cost of a watch by buying it second hand versus buying it new. With watch models that cost thousands of dollars, this can be a significant discount. (Source: Gray & Sons)

As you can see, there are many benefits with shopping on the used market versus only going to a local dealer for new watch models. You’ll save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and you’ll have a lot more watches to choose from while you do it. 

Vintage Watches as Fashion

Other than the convenience and savings, another major reason why people choose to go with second hand watches is for fashion. In a digital age, any mechanical watch is considered an heirloom of a bygone era. For people who wear watches to immortalize the past, going with second hand watches opens a whole market of vintage mid-century watches to buy. 

Second hand watches are also a good idea if you want to have a decently-sized watch collection. Because you can get such a good deal on used watches versus buying them new, you can get many more watches for the same amount of money by going second hand. 

Why Use Old Watches as Fashion Statements? 

Watches are a practical accessory for managing your day and keeping track of the time, but they’re just as popularly worn as status symbols and fashion statements. But of all the accessories you could choose, why would you go with an old used watch for a fashion choice? Here are a few of the reasons why a vintage watch is always in style: 

  • Interesting complications: Unlike the digital clock on your smartphone, a mechanical watch has several fascinating mechanisms known as complications. These include the ability to perform functions such as measuring diving depth, functioning as a stopwatch, and monitoring the phases of the moon.
  • Low tech is retro and practical: A smartphone might be effective at checking the clock, but a low battery is always right around the corner ready to render you without a way to tell the time. Vintage watches aren’t just more practical in this sense, they look cooler too.
  • Vital masculine accessory: Women have a lot to choose from when it comes to accessorizing, from shoes to scarves, but a man is often more limited in how to accentuate his outfit. Vintage watches or used luxury watches are the perfect way to make each outfit unique, drawing compliments and admiration from bystanders.
  • Self-expression: Regardless of your gender, watches are a great way to express your personal style outside of your clothing itself. Second hand watches come in hundreds of different varieties, so you’re likely to find the perfect one for your fashion sense. 

Aside from the benefits of reduced cost, there are plenty of aesthetic reasons why going with vintage or used watches is a good plan from a fashion perspective. Buying used means you have a little more money in your budget, so you can purchase several watches for different looks if you like rather than being limited to just one. 

Mechanical vs. Digital Second Hand Watches

The choice between buying a mechanical and a digital watch is entirely up to personal preference. Some wearers prefer the modern, sophisticated look of a digital watch, while others like the different designs and complications available with mechanical ones.

One thing to consider if you’re shopping used watches for a collection is that digital watches will only go back so far in history since digital watches weren’t invented until the early seventies, but buying used mechanical watches means you could potentially pick up a piece that is a century old. 

While you might think vintage digital watches are cheaper than mechanical ones, you’d be wrong – the oldest available vintage digital watch from the seventies costs as much as a car. (Source: Wired) So vintage collectors can expect to pay top dollar for rare models regardless of whether they’re mechanical or digital.  

Watch Brands to Buy Second Hand

When it comes to buying second hand watches, you’ll get the most value for your dollar by investing in used luxury brands. These are the watches that are most difficult to buy at retail price due to their high costs, and they’re also watches that retain their value well even when they’re in a used condition. 

These are a few brands to check into if you’re looking to buy used watches (Source: Fashion Beans): 

  • Rolex: style=”font-weight: 400;”> Rolex is easily the most recognizable name in luxury watches in the world. While many people can never afford a Rolex at retail price, looking for used Rolexes is one way to get access to one of these classic timepieces without paying an arm and a leg for it at the same time.
  • Chopard: Chopard is another Swiss luxury watch maker with brands along the same lines as Rolex, Cartier, and Harry Winston. This company is known for their high-end jewelry accessories as well as their watches. For the fashion-minded, Chopard is always a good choice. (Source: Prestige Time)
  • Tag Heuer: Tag Heuer is a Swiss watchmaker that has been around since the 1860s. This company makes luxury watches as well as eyewear and other accessories. Associated with Formula One racing, this company features a line of watches inspired by the racing industry.
  • Breitling: Breitling watches are comparable to luxury watches like Tudor and Omega, but since they are a lesser-known brand these watches can often be had at entry-level price points for new collectors. Breitling is famous for its precision chronometers that were initially designed for use by pilots.
  • Omega: Omega is the second-most recognizable watch brand in the world next to Rolex, so this is a brand that holds its value well. However, savvy shoppers can still get a good discount on second hand Omega watches compared to their luxury competitors. 

These aren’t the only watch brands where it pays to buy used. Pretty much any watch brand you purchase whether it’s a high-end luxury piece or a daily wear will come with a discount if you look for a used watch when you buy it. 

Markets to Buy Second Hand Watches

You’ve decided you want to purchase a second hand watch – where’s the best place to get them? As with new watches, there are three major venues you can use: 

  • Local dealers: Pawn shops, estate sales, and second hand jewelry stores sometimes have really good deals on high-end timepieces. Unfortunately, this method of watch collecting is very much “luck of the draw” and often requires frequent visits to local markets to land a favorite watch.
  • Personal ads: Used watches can be found in online marketplaces where people put up personal sale ads, such as Facebook Markets and Craigslist. However, this can be one of the riskiest ways to obtain a second hand watch. Since they are small and easy to hide, luxury watches are a popular item with petty thieves for resale.
  • General online auctions: Websites like eBay are a great place to find many vintage items, including luxury watches. Like going through personal ads for used watches, eBay and other general online marketplaces can be a mixed bag of reputable and sketchy vendors, so be cautious if you shop for secondhand watches here.
  • Online watch shops and auctions:
    If you want the cream of the crop when it comes to used watch options, going to a website like Crown and Caliber which specializes in watches can offer you a lot more vendor security and options. These online shops are usually highly reputable or associated with major auction houses, like Sotheby’s. 

There are plenty of different options to choose from when you’re doing comparison shopping for used watches. Going with high-end online markets versus local ads or general online marketplaces means you can find a good used watch without getting fleeced at the same time. 

Why Buy a Second Hand Watch Online? 


Many of the best options for buying a second hand watch can be found in online marketplaces. There are both advantages and disadvantages to going with an online vendor for your used watch purchases. Here are a few of the benefits first (Source: MyStory): 

  • Convenient purchase: Online markets can deliver your purchased watch directly to your home, and online markets usually make it easy to read and decipher any associated warranties or paperwork that goes along with the watch. You’re also not restricted by the operating hours of a physical storefront.
  • Save time: While comparison shopping physically in brick-and-mortar marketplaces for a used watch takes a lot of time and energy, especially if you’re going to multiple vendors, shopping for a second hand watch online is as easy as clicking a button. You won’t have to drive to multiple shops or watch outlets.
  • Less stress: Shopping online puts a lot less stress on you to make an impulse decision on which watch you want, and if you get tired of looking you can always click out of the online shop and walk away. This makes for a much more relaxed buying atmosphere than having to shop under the eye of a jewelry store clerk.
  • Good deals: On top of getting a discount on your used watch, you can also take advantage of loyalty programs, coupons, and other sales at online markets that can help you get even more value out of your used watch purchase.
  • Auction excitement: Online vendors provide a way for anybody who wants to bid on items to be able to do so regardless of how close they are to an actual auction house. Used watch enthusiasts can put in bids on everything from like-new Rolex watches to rare commemorative watches that mark historical events. 

Online shops are a great way to get the best broad range of options when you’re searching for a used watch purchase. However, there are a few disadvantages to shopping online too. Here are a few to watch out for: 

  • Fraud: Fraudulent vendors have gotten good at wording their product descriptions just so that you might end up with a product that is vastly different from what you thought you were paying for. This is why choosing a reputable online market and reading through purchase agreements carefully is crucial when shopping online for a watch.
  • Delivery theft: Porch pirates are an increasingly common occurrence, so if you’re planning on ordering expensive used watches to your front door for delivery, you might want to invest in some doorbell security cameras too.
  • Lack of sensory input: When you’re buying a watch in person, you have the option to put the watch around your wrist to see how you like the weight and feel of wearing it. With online markets, you don’t get that option. It’s smart to try out some of the models you’re interested in at the store before purchasing online if you have tactile sensitivity. 

Even with these downsides of purchasing a second hand watch online, the advantages of doing so typically outweigh the potential disadvantages. Just the amount of choice you get from shopping on the Internet is worth at least checking out some vendors for buying second hand watches online. 

Vendors for Buying Second Hand Watches Online

When you’re looking for vendors to purchase second hand watches through, you’ll need to go with websites and companies that have a reputable history with both sellers and vendors. Choosing an online marketplace which is specific to luxury watches can also help you get a better selection of options without having to browse through a bunch of unrelated items. 

To get you started on hunting a reputable online watch vendor, here are a few of the best companies for purchasing second hand watches on the Internet (Source: BloggerLocal): 

  • Crown and Caliber: Crown and Caliber is the top online vendor for purchasing luxury watches, and with good reason. This company is known both for its competitive market pricing and its excellent customer service.
  • eBay: eBay is a general market rather than a market which specializes in used watches, but it’s still one of the largest online markets on the planet. If you can buy it, eBay likely sells it. eBay can be a great place to find flash deals on used luxury watches, but since it is made up of individual vendors you have to be careful who you end up dealing with.
  • Chrono24: Chrono24 is a relatively new online watch market and their focus is on creating seamless digital interfaces for online watch purchases. Their dealer rating system makes it easy to stick with vendors that have a reputation for reliability and high-quality products.
  • Sotheby’s: While this literally ancient auction house is known for being a high-end vendor that deals in many different items, luxury used watches are one of the many types of items it has available. It’s important to note that Sotheby’s auctions off all items in as-is condition, so be prepared to read item reports carefully before putting in your bid.
  • Watchfinder: Watchfinder is a premium online watch vendor that gives you access to over fifty different brands and thousands of different models of luxury second hand watches. This watch vendor is based out of the United Kingdom, so check to see if additional shipping charges apply to you if you have a watch delivered from them. 

There are more online markets than these which have second hand watches, but if you’re looking for the best watches available, these vendors are a great place to hit the ground running in your market search. 

One of the biggest benefits of going with an online company that aggregates different vendors, like eBay, is that they frequently come with vendor ratings. These ratings and other third-party mediation help you weed out the riff-raff and find reputable watch merchants. 

Purchasing a Second Hand Watch

Once you’ve decided what vendor you’re going to go with, it’s time to get down to the business of purchasing your second hand watch. The process for purchase will be slightly different depending on whether you purchase online or in-person, but either way there’s a few tips you should keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line (Source: Crown and Caliber): 

  • Stick to a set budget. You should know before you even start shopping around how much money you’re looking to invest in a new timepiece. The impulse to purchase multiple items can be overwhelming if you don’t have some rules set in place, and you might end up accidentally spending much more money than you originally intended.
  • Figure out what features you want. If you have specific features in mind for your watch such as wanting a waterproof housing or a chronograph, you should make a list of these features to help you quickly narrow down your search. This in turn will allow you to make your final purchase more quickly without feeling overwhelmed by choice.
  • Question the seller carefully. Don’t feel too intimidated to ask serious questions, such as whether the photo in an online listing is the actual piece for sale, or what kind of warranty is offered. If anything about the vendor feels unscrupulous, walk away. Remember that your money is on the line and it’ll spend just as well anywhere else.
  • Inspect the watch if you can. If you’re purchasing your used watch in person rather than buying it online, be sure to look over the watch carefully to make sure it has no external damage and that all of the complications in the watch are working correctly. 

If you use an online marketplace that is a reliable source of second hand watches, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about with making an online purchase of a second hand watch. But if you’re purchasing a watch off Craigslist or some other unregulated online marketplace, you’ll need to watch yourself.  

The Risks of Purchasing Second Hand Watches

Even though buying second hand watches is relatively safe if you buy through reputable vendors, there are still a few risks you need to watch out for. 

Second Hand Watches and Theft 

One serious concern you have to worry about when buying used watches is that you need to watch out for stolen items. This isn’t a problem if you go through a reputable vendor like Crown and Caliber or Chrono24, but it is something you’ll need to be aware of if you’re going through unregulated markets like Facebook or Craigslist. 

If you buy your second hand watch through a general online marketplace, one way you can ensure that you’re not accidentally purchasing a stolen watch is to get the serial number for the watch and check it against a watch registry to verify that the watch hasn’t been reported as stolen.

Frankenstein Watches and Second Hand Watch Fraud

A quality risk that you might need to keep an eye out for in purchasing second hand watches is the so-called “Frankenstein” watch. This is what happens when a vendor cobbles together a watch that appears to be a luxury model from miscellaneous watch parts. 

Another issue with Frankenstein watches is that unscrupulous vendors will often try to charge the same higher price for a Frankenstein watch as they could demand for a stock version of the watch. This means that you may end up spending more money on the watch than the vendor deserves to get for it if you’re not careful. (Source: Gear Patrol)

For used watch enthusiasts who aren’t concerned about original parts, a Frankenstein watch can often perform just as well as a stock model. However, the fact that these watches are put together in unknown circumstances, so you’re not going to get a guarantee on how reliable the watch is. Avoid these mismatched watches by purchasing timepieces with official certification. 

Buying Second Hand Watches Is a Good Deal

Buying second hand watches can be overwhelming if you’ve never searched for one before. The options are virtually limitless. However, awareness about what you’re getting into before you go shopping and starting with a few reputable watch vendors online can go a long way towards helping you find a used timepiece you’ll love for years to come.