Should I Purchase A New or Pre-Owned Watch Onlin

Should I Purchase A New or Pre-Owned Watch Online?


It was only until a few years ago that luxury watchmakers began allowing their watches to be “officially“ sold online. In other words, these brands did not used to allow anyone except themselves or their authorized resellers to market their timepieces online. They preferred the older, more traditional method of making people come to their stores and purchase these luxury items in person. The line of thinking was that they believed customers would not take the online process seriously or feel comfortable purchasing such expensive items online. As such, they stuck to the practical method of letting them come in and examine their timepieces in person.


While there is some justification to this line of thinking, it’s become a rather moot point now, due to the rapid rise of online retail and the current ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Either way, this reluctance by many luxury brands to market their products online, ended up creating a gap in the online market that entrepreneurial third-party resellers stepped in to fill. Some are independent sellers, whilst others are large reselling companies with massive distribution networks and even manufacturing suppliers who craft customized luxury ODM watches for businesses and individual consumers. This has also resulted in a general division among these online sellers, with some marketing “new” timepieces and others marketing “pre-owned”/ “used” watches. Additionally, there are those who specialize in vintage timepieces and others more contemporary or newer models. There are also a handful of online platforms that offer all these categories in one convenient place.


So, for those who are just getting into the luxury watch journey it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what are the best watches to look out for, which ones to buy, which ones to avoid etc. As a result, we put together a quick guide discussing the differences between buying new watches and pre-owned watches and how best you can navigate these muddy online waters.


New Luxury Timepieces

On average, there are normally three main ways to purchase a brand new luxury timepiece. You can either do it directly from the luxury brand itself eg. Rolex or Panerai, purchase it from an authorized retailer or from an unauthorized seller. Now, as you would expect, luxury matchmakers only approve the first two options and often emphasize that those are the only ways to purchase their watches. Meanwhile, the non-authorized, sellers are classified as working in the “grey market”, which is somewhere in-between official and unofficial. However, the ironic part is that most of these grey market sellers, usually get their inventory directly from the authorized retailers themselves. Or even in some cases from the luxury brands directly. It’s a rather confusing mess of an industry to be fair and that is primarily because the industry has always had an issue with surplus inventory. This happens when luxury brands like Rolex, produce too much inventory that the market can’t handle. This forces the “official” sellers to find other ways of off-loading that extra stock elsewhere.


As a result, these resellers usually offer the new luxury watches at massive discount prices eg. up to 40% discount on the retail price. This is possible because when the authorized sellers are off-loading their excess products, they usually end up having to do so in bulk and at a significant price cut. In most of these cases, they are simply trying to recover some of their costs. This then brings into perspective, what is the logical way of purchasing these new luxury timepieces. Based on this evidence, it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars purchasing the luxury timepiece directly from the brand or from an authorized seller. In fact, most people will probably only be able or willing to buy one of these watches once in their lifetimes.


Pre-Owned Luxury Timepieces


The next option on the table is to purchase a pre-owned/used timepiece that once belonged to someone else. This part of the watch market is primarily dominated by dealers who purchase and sell watched from private owners. The market has also expanded further, with major brands and retailers beginning to create their own certified reseller programs. This means purchasing older models from past clients, servicing them, and then reselling them with the necessary certifications.


Unlike the primary market for new timepieces, this market is more dependant on condone of the watch. This means taking into consideration the watch’s; age, rarity, popularity etc. This means that you don’t have the luxury to be casual about the whole buying process. You have to carry out your research to ensure originality and reliability. However, keep in mind that just because a catchy is being resold and is considered pre-owned, doesn’t mean that it is of poor quality. In fact, in most cases, people just let a watch sit unbothered in their safe for a long time until they finally realise that they don’t need it anymore.


Which Is The Better Choice?


Both categories offer their advantages and disadvantages. So, it depends on what you as a buyer can afford and would prefer. Some would rather purchase their watches from authorized sellers for the sake of buyer confidence and personal insurance. Meanwhile, others aren’t too worried about this and would rather save a significant chunk of their money and purchase a pre-owned watch from the grey market instead. In summary, there isn’t a better option over the other, you have to just go with what feels best for you.

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