New vs Used Luxury Swiss Watches – Which Should I Buy?
With the countless options of luxury Swiss watches on the market, choosing the right brand and model can be a tough decision. Not to mention, deciding whether you want to buy a NEW OR USED WATCH…
Now, you may never have even considered buying a used watch before, but there are a lot of benefits in doing so. There are also some disadvantages that come with it. The same goes for new watches. This is why we put together this ‘New vs Used Luxury Swiss Watches Comparison’. We hope this can help you first decide whether you want to buy a new or used Swiss watch, that way you can narrow down your choices and make the best decision in terms of cost, value, experience, and more.
You’ll notice how we specified “luxury” and “Swiss”, this is because we are only talking about watches that retain value and are timeless in style. Which means Luxury Swiss Watches – think – Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Three of the best brands of watches in the world. Ones that keep their value, and often times appreciate in value over time. So, what we discuss in this comparison will not apply to watches that aren’t “luxury Swiss watches”…
The point is, when discussing luxury Swiss watch brands, buying used and new both make sense, which we can’t say for just any watch brand.
New vs Used Luxury Swiss Watches
In our opinion, the best place to start is with a question many new luxury Swiss watch collectors and enthusiasts ask themselves, “Should I buy a new or used watch?” This will make the hunt for your ideal watch significantly less overwhelming and time-consuming.
To determine which is best for you – a new or used watch – this comparison will take into consideration the following factors:
- Resale Value (Appreciation & Depreciation)
When it comes to price, it really depends on the model/reference in question.
On average, the cost of a new watch is going to be considerably higher than a used watch. How much different is it? Well, it could be a few thousand dollars cheaper – If we are talking about a $10,000 retail price (average cost of a luxury Swiss watch) when new, you will likely be able to snag that same model on the secondhand market for $7,000 or less. That is just a general example, but regardless, you can anticipate around 20-30% less than the MSRP price.
That said, for some of the more exclusive, rare, limited edition, or highly in-demand models, you could actually find them selling on the secondhand market for the same price, if not more.
For example, a steel Rolex Daytona, Rainbow Rolex, or steel Sky-Dweller may be hard to get your hands on new without a long, long wait. Sometimes it’s simply impossible to find new, unless you are very cool with somebody. So, people will turn to the secondhand market to get these special models and references…only to discover the watch is selling for more than its retail price. Often much more. In this case, you pay for not having to wait, or not being able to acquire it new as these are such difficult models to obtain.
Some Swiss watches have better resale value than others. The best luxury Swiss watch brands in terms of resale value are:
Rolex is number 1, but really it could be number 1-6. As Rolex watches have insane resale value. They are like gold. You can sell a Rolex anywhere in the world. Most other Swiss watches require specific markets.
In any case, when comparing new vs used luxury Swiss watches, here’s the deal…
New watches will lose a significant portion of their value as soon as you “take them off the lot” – using a car reference there as it is similar…
Then after 5-10 years, the value jumps back up, and over time, they typically reach their original value, and for some, they shoot past what they were worth when new (unlike the vast majority of cars). Moreover, some references become more sought after with time, and their value significantly increases. There are tons of examples of this. A simple Google search will yield many results that fascinate the minds of people who love appreciating assets.
Used watches, on the other hand, have already taken that initial hit of “coming off the lot”. So, exchanging from one owner to the next doesn’t affect the value. You could go ahead and resell it shortly after for the same price. You also have the added benefit that that watch might rise in value over time just like a new watch. Collectors don’t care how many people owned the watch. They care about its condition and if it has original parts.
So, when it comes to resale value, pre owned watches are the smartest choice. As long as you keep the watch in good condition, and you didn’t get ripped off when buying it, you are retaining value from day one.
NOTE: Many people recommend buying a watch because you love it, you want to use it, because it is special to you, NOT because it has good resale value and it is like an investment…This is a good point, but it’s always good to take into consideration the resale value. You may want to trade it in for another watch someday or you may need the cash, you never know. Plus, some watches are truly investments, with vintage Rolex watches selling for exorbitant prices at auction. So, we think a bit of “because you love it” and “because the resale value is good” is the best way to go about it.
No matter if you buy a luxury Swiss watch new or used, condition is important. Of course, a new watch is NEW, so you don’t really have anything to worry about. The chance of it having some issue that got by quality control is very slim. Like VERY slim.
When buying new watches from an authorized dealer, you don’t have to worry about scratches, issues with the movement, when it was serviced, did they replace original parts, etc. You also don’t need to think about (or dare we say, be jealous of), how the previous owner treated the watch.
When buying used watches, this is a completely different story. Everything we just listed above are things you need to take into consideration. Fortunately, we don’t need to recommend you become a watch expert to make sure you are buying a quality used watch. What you need to do is simple, yet not exactly unchallenging. You need to make sure you are dealing with an authorized dealer who is trustworthy. TRUSTWORTHY. Just to reiterate. It is the most important thing you can do when shopping for used Swiss watches. It’s the only way to know you are getting a good watch, which is why we don’t recommend buying on websites like eBay, from random friends of friends, etc.
Do your research on a good dealer in your area, ask your friends who have luxury Swiss watches, and go to someone reliable. Then you can be sure you are buying what they say you are buying.
Questions to ask when buying used watches:
- Does the watch have its original box and paperwork? (This is crucial – you want these things) .
- Has it been serviced? If so, what was done? (Gotta know).
- Has it been polished? (See below).
- Does it have its original parts? If not, what was changed (important for vintage watches more than anything).
- What’s the dealer’s warranty, if any?
Note: If it has been polished, was it done by Rolex? A vintage watch that has been polished is no bueno. If it is a recent model that is used, it’s really not a big deal, but in general, you don’t want to polish luxury watches if you don’t have to.
Things to look for, deep scratches and noticeable bangs. Scratches on the sapphire (is it still waterproof, although this applies more to vintage watches). ETC.
If the bracelet is beaten up badly, you can always ask them to swap it for another one. This won’t affect the value if it is the same strap model and if it is not a vintage timepiece.
All in all, when it comes to the condition of new vs used luxury Swiss watches, new is the obvious choice if it scratches and other natural wear is a deal-breaker for you. Some people just hate wearing other people’s scratches. That said, your new watch will surely, one hundred percent, without a doubt…become scratched if you wear it. It is normal. It is fine. It’s inevitable.
“New vs used luxury Swiss watches” can be pretty tough to determine a winner when it comes to servicing. But let’s talk about it…
A luxury Swiss watch like Rolex usually needs servicing every 7 years, or so. So, regardless of if you buy a new or preowned watch, you will likely need a servicing someday.
So, it really makes no difference. The only thing we can say is, if you were to buy a used watch from an untrustworthy dealer, and it ends up needing a servicing shortly after, that would…suck. To be frank. You’d be giving up a watch you just bought so it can be serviced. This is more of a horror story for most than reality. But again, it emphasizes the importance of buying from a good dealer.
On the other hand, sometimes, new or old, a watch needs servicing that has nothing to do with the dealer. It could be a small manufacturing defect or it could be from rough usage/high impact.
So, ultimately, this one is a tie.
Note: avoid servicing vintage Rolex watches unless you absolutely have to. Rolex, and other watch brands, will automatically replace bad parts and patina as their goal is to make the watch as close to new looking as possible. This will devalue your watch on the secondhand market. If you don’t care about reselling it or keeping its value and original parts intact, then go for it. But in that case, it would make sense to buy a newer, non-vintage watch.
This is arguably one of the most important aspects of buying new vs used luxury Swiss watches from an authorized dealer.
So, with new watches, you will get a warranty from the brand itself. This is the best you can get as you know the manufacturer of the watch specializes in the watch at hand.
With pre owned watches, typically you are getting a warranty by the independent dealer/watchmaker. That’s not to say they aren’t as good, but it is something to think about.
That said, if the used watch dealer has a good reputation, there isn’t much to worry about, so you can rest assured the job will be done right. Moreover, they will often give you a loaner watch while you wait. PLUS, you’ll have paid a fair bit less for the watch in the first place, so there are clearly pros and cons when it comes to this.
What’s more, if it is a really complicated fix, an independent dealer may end up sending it off to the manufacturer. So, you don’t need to worry about them doing a job they can’t manage. They will take care of your watch for the precious item it is.
Overall, the warranty is better from the manufacturer, but it is a more timely process and independent watchmakers can be quicker and provide just as good of service.
Buying a new watch is likely to provide the best experience, although there are some pre owned watch retailers who provide an incredible experience, like Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton.
In any case, go with an authorized dealer that has a good reputation and you are bound to get the whole nine in terms of experience, new or used.
To this point, buy in person rather than online.
You’ll be treated special, you’ll be able to try on many watches, ask all the questions you want, etc.
One thing that is becoming apparent with the secondhand market is that many independent authorized dealers are excelling at treating customers to a very exclusive experience, something that the big brands themselves are not as much concerned with. Don’t get us wrong, for example, Rolex, will treat you like a king. However, with a used watch dealer, they have the ability to go above and beyond standard practice.
So, when it comes to experience, it’s really a toss up. If you find an authorized dealer like Diamonds By Raymond Lee, you are in for a treat.
When it comes down to it, the choice is yours. You will find many advocates for buying pre owned watches, and you will find many people who would only consider buying new. Weigh the option above and make the best choice for yourself.
So, to sum it up…If price, value and experience are what you care about the most, go for a used luxury Swiss watch. And if condition, warranty, and the “buying new” experience are important to you, go for a new luxury Swiss watch. But remember, new is only new for a moment and then it is used.