Pre-owned Watches Checklist: Ensure You Get a Good Deal

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Buying pre-owned watches involves possible risks and subtleties that you must pay attention to. But how can you check a watch on the spot, without any experience or a familiar watchmaker? On behalf of an amateur watchmaker, I will try to convey to you my little experience.

Buying pre-owned watches or on the secondary market for used watches has many advantages and disadvantages, Buying pre-owned luxury watches involves possible risks and subtleties that you must pay attention to. This article does not guarantee the purchase of the perfect watch, but it may help you reduce the risks of buying a bad watch. I also note that the theme is not suitable for Vintage and Antique watches in all aspects.

First of all, you must understand that the cheaper a specific watch is sold relative to the market, the greater the risk, the fewer guarantees, and possibly the worse condition of the watch. A cheap listing is not necessarily a bad thing (Sometimes people lower the price due to the urgency of the sale), and vice versa. It depends on your luck.

The seller’s words may not always be true, so you must rely solely on yourself and your experience. This usually concerns questions about the condition of the watch, battery replacement, maintenance, and other issues that you still won’t know about shortly after purchase. Such information may be useful, but it should not be taken as truth.

Let’s start with the kit.

If you have a complete set, including actual stamped purchase documents and matching serial numbers, ref. number is a plus, and reduces the risk of hidden pitfalls and possible defects. However, often, many sellers buy watch boxes separately and sell the watch along with them, which is no different from buying the same watch without a box and documents. If a seller offers a watch without documents, a box, and other things that come with a purchase in a store, this is not always bad. Many watch lovers throw away the packaging, along with its contents, and do not think about selling the watch in the future.

If you are satisfied with everything about the kit, the next step is to check the appearance. I want to note that it is not always possible to determine the real condition of a watch from a photo. Sometimes in life, they turn out to be better, and sometimes worse. And many sellers may deliberately take photos where the main defects will be almost invisible.


Before the meeting, it is recommended to watch video reviews and photos of the new watches to compare their appearance in the future. It is advisable to inspect a well-lit place where all possible defects will be visible. Look at the general condition of the watch, whether there are any scratches on the glass or case. If the watch has been polished, compare photos of the new watch and the used one to see if everything is still in place and looks the way it should (Matte should be matte, glossy should be glossy, and so on). Look carefully at the dial, hands, and markers, and compare them with new ones. They should not be different, and everything should be in place.

The presence of rust or stains inside indicates that liquid has most likely entered the watch, and such a watch should not be taken. Expensive pre-owned watches have high-quality finishing of all elements, and each watch has its own reference, according to which they are made completely identical within a given model number. The back of the watch must have the appropriate engravings, serial numbers, and model numbers, the quality of the engraving itself, and the location of the text may also differ in the original watches and fakes.


If there is glass on the back cover, compare the mechanism of the original watch and your option under consideration. The mechanism must be completely identical, and have the appropriate quality of finishing, markings, and elements. Lately, especially with modern 2015+ watches, very high-quality fakes have been appearing. Pay attention to every little detail, and compare the colors of screws, engravings, decorative elements, fonts, and shapes of various elements of the mechanism – there should be no differences. But even a thorough check on site will not 100% guarantee the authenticity of the watch, but will only protect you a little.

Check the functionality of all functions of the watch, and whether they work correctly, whether everything moves as expected, and switches as it should in the original watch. Often, in cheap fakes, complex functions, for example, like a chronograph in a mechanical watch, are replaced by switching the date and days of the week by pressing a button, and have only the decorative trim of the original.

It will be a plus if the watch comes with an original clasp or bracelet. Leather and rubber straps are usually consumables and can wear out within a year of wear.

A high seller rating on the site can also reduce the risks of problems and buying a bad watch, but it does not always provide a 100% guarantee.

We hope that this article will help you more easily choose good watches on the secondary market.

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