What to know when buying a pre-owned watch for investment

watch collection in a box

When you’re shopping for a new watch, it can be all too easy to flock to the newest designs. But, with pre-owned luxury watches providing an excellent investment opportunity, it might be better to shop for a piece that has already been loved.

A new watch can be a costly purchase, especially if you’re buying from a luxury brand like Tag Heuer or Cartier. But, with many jewellers stocking pre-owned watches and jewellery, it’s now possible to get the biggest and best names at a discounted price. When it comes to buying a pre-owned watch for investment, there are plenty of things you’ll need to consider to ensure you make the right choice. In this blog post, we will advise you how to make the best choice when choosing a pre-owned watch.

Set a budget and consider the return on investment

Any pre-owned watch should typically be priced at below the RRP, so knowing the original price will help you know how much you should be spending on used models. In general, many watch brands and models will decrease in value as soon as they’ve been worn, with the exception of them being extremely rare or in iconic styles where people would pay over the odds for them.

When you’re setting a budget, you need to ensure that you don’t end up spending more than you will be able to sell the watch for in the future. Although this can all depend on fluctuating demand, trends, and metal price volatility, it is possible that your jeweller or the brand manufacturer can tell you the likelihood of certain pieces rising in value over time to help you with your search. We would always recommend doing your own research around specific models too, including on watch forums, to get an indication of the demand for your watch. Once you’re satisfied with the potential for your watch to increase in value over time, it’s time to find the cheapest prices so that you can make the biggest return on investment.

What to check for at point of purchase

What puts many people off the idea of buying pre-owned watches and jewellery is simply that they have already been used, so there’s a stigma around them being less valuable and therefore less desirable. But, when you can buy something that was once so expensive at such a bargain, there is so much potential for a return on your investment. And, even if your watch doesn’t rise significantly in value over the years you have it, buying pre-owned can help you to secure rare makes and models.

When you’re shopping around for pre-owned watches, it’s particularly important that you check for the following:

Any damage: Damage of any extent will reduce the value of your pre-owned watch, so looking out for any scuffs and marks can ensure you aren’t paying more than you should be. Keep your eyes peeled for any scratches or scrapes on the watch face, any loose or damaged straps — and don’t forget to make sure the watch is actually ticking! A damaged watch shouldn’t always be dismissed from your collection, especially if it can be fixed, so make sure you address any issues with the jeweller who is serving you. Please note that some collectable watches may be more valuable with their original parts included, even if they are damaged.

Box and papers: When you’re planning to sell something on for more than you bought it for, having all pieces the watch was bought with originally is key to securing the highest possible return on investment. You should always ensure that you have the original box, ideally still in good condition to protect your timepiece, as well as the certification to guarantee its authenticity. These things will give future collectors peace of mind and they will be willing to pay more for watches with the box and papers.

Brands to look out for

If your research is pulling up a good few luxury watches with potential for the value to increase, it’s time to consider which ones will give you the greatest return on investment. In general, pre-owned goods reduce in value after the original sale, however there are some specific luxury watch brands that appreciate or maintain their value over time:


rolex oyster black silver

Rolex Pre Owned Watch Submariner Ref 16610 (£6,600.00 from Ramsdens Jewellery)

Possibly the most well-known appreciating watch brand of all time, Rolex has been a leading watchmaker since 1905. Their attention to detail and iconic watch designs mean that even a pre-owned Rolex can bring a high return on investment. Of all the models they’ve brought out, the Rolex Submariner is one of best choices you can make if you’re wanting to make a profit when you sell it on in future. Their contemporary sport and professional watches are also highly demanded, with collections including the GMT-Master also selling above their RRP on the pre-owned market.


© Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique

Another smart choice for anybody looking to invest in a luxury watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre has influenced some of the most famous brands making it one of the world’s most famous luxury watch brands. This is down to the complicated and innovative mechanisms that make up their impressive collections. When shopping for pre-owned Jaeger-LeCoultre, keep an eye out for their popular Reverso style to benefit from the biggest returns on investment.


breitling watch with white strap
Breitling Pre Owned Watch Navitimer Ref A26322 (£3,595.00 from Ramsdens Jewellery)

The Breitling brand has always been a big name in watchmaking and, after being purchased by a hedge fund in 2017, it’s likely that the brand will continue to get bigger and better over the next few years. Unlike some of the other brands mentioned, the key to getting an impressive return on investment for Breitling watches is to stick to the classics. Browse for popular, clean silhouettes including the Breitling Navitimer.


omega black silver strap
Omega Pre Owned Watch Speedmaster Ref 35705000 (£2,795.00 from Ramsdens Jewellery)

If you’re looking to create a more classic collection in order to make your return on investment, we would advise choosing a model like the Omega Speedmaster. The timeless design will ensure it’s always able to secure some interest. And, with so many different colourways, you can find a super special one to impress with!

Here at Ramsdens, we have extensive ranges of new and pre-owned luxury watches for men and women, so you’re sure to find one to give you an impressive return on investment in the future. If you’re looking to sell your watch, you can get a competitive quote with us for this too. For any questions about our watches, please don’t hesitate to contact us or come and visit us at your nearest branch.

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