How do I safely/reliably buy used watches?
June 15, 2014 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I have a couple of nice ($5-10k) watches I got new. I love this kind of stuff, and would like to expand my collection, but it's really hard to justify laying down that kind of cash on a regular basis. So I'm considering buying some used watches. However, I'm really nervous about getting ripped off if I buy used (either online or from a local dealer who I don't have a track record with). If you buy nice watches used, where do you go, and how do you know you're getting a quality watch at a fair price?
posted by primethyme to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Use this guide when buying from online from ebay. If the price seems too good to be true, the watch probably isn't real.
posted by unicornologist at 6:17 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Enthusiast forums are usually good places to check for used high-end goods. Both Timezone and Watchuseek have healthy buy/sell/trade sections. A lot of these sites have their own informal sub-fora for feedback; TZ and WUS are no exception to the general rule.

As far as getting a good price goes, a lot of it is cross-referencing with retail, eBay, and other marketplace listings. Some iconic models (most Rolexes; think Submariner, Explorer I/II) usually hold their value well, while older watches (boxy 80s watches, for instance) can be grabbed for a discount. (For what's likely a variety of reasons, used women's watches usually sell at a general discount.)

For authenticity, you can usually ask for papers, movement photos (if buying an automatic watch), and receipts from authorized repair centers as proof; these can be faked, but it's more effort to fake the whole package than just the watch.

As above, though, be wary of extreme discounts (order of magnitude away from MSRP, say); if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't.
posted by zer0render at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, start in forums (styleforum is another option) to build your knowledge of the market. Like metafilter, participants in your average geekery forum are not likely to deliberately mislead you; they care about the subject, and their reputation within the group.

My taste in watches is more in the quirky/inexpensive vein (vintage Japanese and Soviet/Russian, for instance), and I've learned what to avoid or seek out by digging through these sorts of forums. With the sort of higher-end watches you're into, there may be a higher risk of being ripped off, but there is going to be a lot more helpful information out there.

eBay is a great source (at least for the less-rarified things I look for; a specialist reseller site might potentially be better for luxury watches), and one does develop a good "gut instinct" about sellers with a little practice.
posted by credible hulk at 7:14 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why buy when you could rent. Something like this gives you access to all kinds of watches for a limited time period.
posted by benk at 9:20 PM on June 15, 2014

That's cool that you can rent, but I'm the kind of person who wants to decide what to wear each morning. Having to plan it out days in advance doesn't strike me as fun. And doing quick math there it seems like it could easily cost $1-2k a month if I wanted to have one at all times.
posted by primethyme at 10:31 PM on June 15, 2014

For buying used watches you can also check out aggregator sites like Chrono24 and WatchRecon. They'll pull together listings from major across the major watch enthusiast forums and make browsing quite a lot easier. You can sometimes find a good deal now and then on Antiquorum, but the fees can get you if you're not careful.

On top of that depending on your geography you can also check out brick and mortar stores in your area that specialize in used watches. I'd stay away from pawn shops and generalist stores, but jewelry places and watch specialists are an interesting place to start. If you're still a novice at identification then of course stick with reputable shops and pieces that come with the original papers.

As the old saying goes, "Buy the seller, not the watch."
posted by C^3 at 2:08 AM on June 16, 2014

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