Think that starting your jewelry collection requires only buying new pieces? Think again. Beyond vintage jewelry, which can definitely fetch a high price and retain its value if you find the right pieces, the pre-owned and secondhand luxury watch market is booming. According to a New York Times article from 2019, a growing number of industry insiders say that, through 2024, “buyers drawn to lower prices, easy access to products in high demand and proof of resale values may well turn to the pre-owned market — and turn their backs on traditional retail.” At the time, the pre-owned watch market was already worth $16 billion annually.

So what do you need to know in order to start collecting pre-owned watches? Beyond the overall basics of watch collecting (which you can read about here), in our quick guide to starting a luxury watch collection, with tips on themes, lingo, special features and more), what should you keep in mind specifically when shopping for pre-owned, secondhand luxury watches?

Find the Right Partner

The absolute first thing that you need to do, not only when shopping for pre-owned luxury watches, but when shopping for any kind of luxury jewelry, is find the right partner. You want to work with a retailer that offers both online browsing and a brick-and-mortar location. You also want someone who knows the pre-owned watch collecting business, brands and industry; accreditations from well-known watch brands, such as Audemars Piguet and Cartier, also help.

Having a great relationship with an authorized pre-owned watch dealer will not only assist you in navigating the market as a newcomer, but it may also help you snag certain, limited, rare timepieces off the market; a dealer will always have certain connections that aren’t open to shoppers, making purchases like these near impossible without their help.

Yamron can help you begin building your pre-owned watch collection, both with our online offerings for your perusal and our brick-and-mortar storefront in Naples, Florida.

What you absolutely do not want to do is purchase a pre-owned watch from just any seller, either in-person or online. The latter option is especially notorious for duping unsuspecting first-time buyers with fakes.

Look for not only what you like, but also a great value.

Of course, no woman wants a jewelry collection that’s filled with pieces she dislikes, regardless of their value. You want items in your collection, luxury watch or otherwise, that you genuinely enjoy wearing. However, conversely, you don’t want to build a secondhand watch collection based on looks and likes alone. You want to ensure your purchases do come with a bit of secondary value.

Look for watches that will hold their long-term value and that you can potentially resale or trade, if you decide to make changes to your collection. This will take your luxury watch collection from merely a collection of pieces you enjoy, to a real investment.

One easy way to identify a potentially value-heavy watch? Look for discontinued models or those offered right before a brand revamp. The watches’ rarity often makes for a higher value.

And one quick way to identify a watch that may not hold its value? Avoid anything that’s overly “trendy.” If it’s playing into today’s latest fads a bit too much, you can probably guarantee that the piece isn’t going to be desirable five or 10 years into the future.

Keep an eye on pricing.

Pricing in the pre-owned luxury watch market can fluctuate heavily. Buyers dictate the market and, as such, what you might find for an agreeable price this year may either increase or decrease significantly in cost next year. Rarer models that are no longer current are especially likely to increase in price as the pre-owned luxury watch market gains more traction and more and more buyers enter the market, looking for those rare pieces.

One good way to simply monitor pricing is via auction house catalogs. Looking at the types of timepieces that become available from places such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s and what they go for, as well as why they’re going for a particular price, will help you better understand the resale market — and when you know the resale market, you can better evaluate when you’re getting a great deal and when you might not be.

But beyond this, working with La Maison Yamron can ensure that you’re only paying a fair market price for your favorite timepieces — no homework required.

Don’t limit yourself to pre-owned watches.

For many luxury watch collectors, pre-owned watches are a gateway to the wider world of timepieces. For what’s often a more affordable price, you can shop around and pick up a few pieces that will retain their value and that are resalable in the future. However, don’t limit yourself to only collecting pre-owned watches. If you find a pre-owned watch that you love, explore what else the brand offers; you may find a similar, new version of that pre-owned watch you adore, for a similar cost, or even a vintage version that comes with an extra rarity factor, despite the potential of a higher price tag.

Get all the right paperwork

Wherever you shop for a pre-owned watch, ensure that you’re getting all the right paperwork with your purchase. You’ll want to receive all of the timepiece’s original manuals, warranty cards and preferably the original packaging. You also should ask for an authenticity certificate and documentation of the watch’s service history.

When you enquire about service history, take things a step further and look into whether or not a watch can be repaired if needed. Some brands are happy to repair older watches when needed, but others will not, particularly for vintage pieces. If being able to get a watch repaired directly with the maker is important to you, look to brands such as Breguet and Patek Philippe.

Protect Your Investment

Lastly, you’ll want to protect your investment to the best of your ability. This means purchasing insurance for your collection, as well as proper home storage, but beyond this, it means caring for your luxury watch collection to the best of your ability. So, keep your watches regularly maintained and cleaned, and avoid making any significant changes to the watch (ie, engravings, etc.). Changes like these can not only reduce a watch’s value, but they can also impact whether or not certain brands will even continue to service the watch.

Partner with Yamron for your next pre-owned watch purchase

As you begin building your pre-owned luxury watch collection, opt to work with a partner you can trust to help you find the most pristine pre-owned timepieces that are not only beautiful additions to your jewelry collection, but also fine pieces that will retain their value over the years. Whether you’re looking for that next best piece or your very first piece, our team of pre-owned watch industry experts can assist.