Pre-Owned Watches For Sale: Buying a Pre-Owned Watch

Aerial view of two watches still in packaging. This is our guide to finding pre-owned watches for sale.

Like buying a pre-owned car, or a pre-owned anything for that matter, buying a pre-owned watch could save you a lot of money. We have already touched on this in our article about saving money on a watch, but thought it needed expanding further here. This is our guide on how to find pre-owned watches for sale.

But first, this is a quick disclaimer. In this article we are discussing finding deals, being sensible, and knowing you’re not being ripped off when you buy a pre-owned watch. We won’t be going into the ins and outs of vintage watch trading or dealerships, because this area is an ephemeral realm – it’s just too much to get into for a single article! 

If you’re looking to find a pre-owned watch to save money, then you’re in the right place. There are so many risks in buying pre owned watches for sale, you don’t want to mess up. We want to make sure you get exactly what you’re paying for, and that you know the right questions to ask. Don’t be afraid to grill the dealer – if you’re parting with a lot of money, you have the right to know the exact condition of the timepiece, strap, and any other packaging that may be included! 

1) The Condition of the Watch

Image of a mens watch on a wrist, the watch is in used condition with scratches and some dents. This is our guide to finding pre-owned watches for sale.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. If the timepiece or strap has any scratches or dents, you’re going to have to know about them before you order. It’s simple, but so easy to forget when everything is simply a click away. And, let’s face it, in the past two years we have all been pretty click-happy with our online shopping, and buying without a second thought. Hold back when it’s this much money, though. 

If you’re buying a pre-owned wrist watch, then you’re bound to be expecting some wear and tear. After all, a watch is an item that is worn everywhere the wearer goes. If it hasn’t picked up some damage, it hasn’t been worn properly. Damage can be much deeper than the watch face itself. 

And yet, we need to be sure exactly what these dents mean – more specifically, we need to know how deep they go. A scratch on the outside might add character to the watch, but damage on the inside is a problem that doesn’t have any benefits. 

Check if there is any damage to the lugs, because you want ease of strap change and movement. If you can, ask the dealer if you can see the movement of the watch’s hands. If there is anything obviously wrong, it may be present there. Remember – damage is deeper than the watch face. 

2) Check the History of Its Service

An image of the inside of a mechanical watch. If you're looking for pre-owned watches for sale, make sure that the mechanical watches have been serviced for the sale.

A pre-owned watch means, one would assume, that the watch has had previous servicing. This may not be the case if the watch is under two years old, if it’s a quartz watch (in which case you’ll just need to check the battery). In this section, however, we’ll be going over the history of service of a mechanical watch that’s over two years old. There will probably be some damage to the watch, but you’ll need to know about it. 

Servicing a mechanical watch isn’t cheap, and will probably set you back over a hundred pounds. If the seller has had the watch serviced ready for this sale, chances are they will have kept the documentation. If they haven’t, be skeptical as to whether it’s actually had the service promised. Sometimes a watch has been serviced badly, by a non-reputable watchmaker, so make sure you see the papers and investigate the servicer.

If the pre-owned watch definitely hasn’t been serviced recently, chances are you will need to do it yourself. All mechanical watches require servicing every couple of years, unfortunately, so it is a necessity. We recommend telling your local watchmaker or dealer the model of timepiece in question, to find out the cost of a service. If this turns out to be an extortionate price, you may not want to carry on with the purchase. 

3) Investigate the Watch Seller

An image of four watches still in their cases. Many watch sellers could be selling multiple watches. If you're looking for pre-owned watches for sale, make sure to do your res

It might seem cheeky or untrusting, but if you’re about to part with a large amount of cash, you need to be as careful as possible. Take out your magnifying glass and deer stalker, and investigate the seller of your pre-owned watch. You need to know about the watch seller. 

Take a look at online reviews and feedback, to find out what kind of watch dealer you’re, well, dealing with. Look from different angles, too; social media, Google reviews, and the state of their website (if they have one) are good places to start. Once the communication has begun, arrange to meet up with them to ask them to show you the pre-owned watch in person. This would be an honest and trustworthy action from a dealer. Run background checks on the watch dealer them if you feel the need.

Last, but definitely not least – the seller of the watch should be open about everything. If there is any damage to the watch, you really need to know. Ask them about the origins of the timepiece, when, where, and how they obtained it. They should also be upfront and honest about the warranty, too, and any returns policy. You have a right to know all this, and to see any documentation required. 


To summarize, buying a pre-owned watch is a great way to invest in a good quality timepiece without breaking the bank! Make sure you read through our guide carefully to make sure you’re utilizing all the tips and tricks you need. Before you leave, check out our other blog post on tips to save money whilst shopping for a watch!

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