Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at the age old question – do I buy new or pre-owned?
So, let’s get one theoretically obvious thing out of the way – you can’t buy a vintage watch new. The very nature of it being a vintage watch implies that it’s had at least one previous owner. However, condition can vary from beaten to hell to virtually untouched 0 often called “new old stock” (NOS), (we’ll cover that idea later). In this article, we’re going to talk specifically about buying modern pieces. Without imposing an artificial budget, it’s worth pointing out that, for a good number of people, buying new just makes more sense for pieces under $500 (and I tend to agree). Above that price, it’s really dependent on personal factors, like income.
For starters, what do we mean when we say “pre-owned”? For all intents and purposes, pre-owned means exactly that: it’s a watch that has already been owned by someone else. It’s pretty straightforward, but I’ve seen people complicate the idea beyond comprehension by bringing lengths of time of ownership into it, and it’s just a mess. No reason to do that to the watchfam, so let’s just accept that pre-owned means exactly what it sounds like it means.
When you go to buy a watch new, you’re more than likely going to either an authorized dealer or a boutique for the brand, or possibly online depending on the brand’s online availability. In the world of new online, you’ve got authorized dealers (AD), such as Govberg (who we’ll discuss again in a second), or gray market dealers, such as Jomashop (we’ll discuss gray market in the future). These are sites which sell pieces that haven’t been worn or owned by anyone before, and you will (or should) be getting the box, papers, etc with the watch when you get it.
In the world of pre-owned, you’ve got the obvious places to look, like eBay, along with other sites like Govberg, who are both a certified pre-owned dealer and an AD for new pieces from a few brands such as Rolex, Delray Watch Supply (HI FED!!!), or even my good friend James over at ItsKibbleWatches. These are companies that offer watches that they have acquired and are selling them, in turn, usually at a much lower price than they can be had new, but without all of the pomp and circumstance that comes along with buying through an AD or boutique.
Pricing really is the big plus for buying a watch pre-owned. Obviously, it’s been unboxed, it’s seen some wear, and any premium that came along with its newness is now gone. Which can be very good for you, the second buyer! In almost all cases, the watches being listed there are being sold for significantly less than they would be new, with the usual exception being Rolex.
Still, it offers the chance to get into a luxury brand at less than MSRP so, what’s the issue? Well, for a lot of people, there’s something very much important about a watch being theirs from the get go, about picking up their stories, their lives. I know there are certain pieces I very much feel that way about when the time comes for me to get them. For others, this isn’t as big a deal though, a perspective I completely understand and respect.
Condition can factor into the equation, the same way it does for any vintage watch. Often, a small scratch from normal wear will not affect the watch’s appeal – and often times, small nicks aren’t even noticeable. After all, you bought this thing to wear it – it’s okay if that shows a little.
Ultimately, it comes down to what matters most to you, but whichever route you decide to go, always make sure to keep it classy, watchfam.
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