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13 Tips for Buying Your Pre-owned Luxury Brand Watch

Buying a previously owned luxury watch can give you a great way to become the owner of an outstanding timepiece at an affordable price. It can provide an opportunity to buy watch models no longer in production. Purchasing a pre-owned watch is also an economical way to add variety to an existing watch collection. Whatever your reason, here are 13 Tips for buying  your pre-owned luxury brand watch.

1) Buy what you like.

Buy a watch you that you really like. Even if you find a great deal, pass on it if the make/model is not your first choice. Buy a timepiece you will enjoy wearing. With proper care, a luxury brand watch should last a lifetime.

2) Narrow down your choices.

Think about watches that have caught your attention. Are you interested in a Rolex, Patek Philippe, or other luxury brand? What style of watch best suits your lifestyle? What functions or features are important to you? The clearer you are about the watch you want, the easier it will be to find.

3) Learn the watch specifics.

Before you start shopping, thoroughly research the manufacturer and watch model you want. Network with other watch buyers on watch forums. Ask questions and seek out advice. Read enough product descriptions to become learn watch terminology. Learn to recognize the identifying features of an authentic model you want to buy.

4) Do your homework to buy the real deal.

You want to buy a watch that has 100% original internal and external parts or genuine replacement parts from the manufacturer. Some watches have after-market modification such as gemstones added on the dial or case. You might like the customization, but you need to be able to recognize any changes to the original model. A reputable seller will give you full disclosure of any alterations, but it pays to know what to look for.

Rolex 18k gold and stainless steel Datejust watch with after-market customization. 

Rolex 18k gold and stainless steel Datejust watch with after-market customization. 

5) Identify the fakes.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of fake watches on the market. To avoid buying a counterfeit or a watch with inferior parts, pay attention to details. Check that the logo on the dial is straight. Look for clean and properly aligned lettering on the dial and well-done engraving on the watchcase. Make sure the time markers are properly spaced. Check if the watch band and style of buckle match the manufacturer’s specifications.

At Turley Jewelers we examine every previously owned watch carefully to check for original parts and functionality. 

At Turley Jewelers we examine every previously owned watch carefully to check for original parts and functionality. 

An original watchband can be a good indication that the rest of the timepiece is authentic. Look for identifying stamps or marks that are hallmarks of the manufacturer and symbols of watch metals. Gold watches will be heavy. If you can’t handle the watch personally, ask the seller for its weight in grams.

6) Pay attention for possible damage.

Be aware of signs that the watch could be damaged or has had excessive wear. For metal bracelet bands, hold the watch horizontally to see if the bracelet drupes from stretching. Check the dial for rust or watermarks. While superficial scratches are to be expected, major dents or a cracked crystal are an indication that the delicate watch movement may have been severely jarred. Check for the correct metal for the watch case back – either stainless steel or gold, depending on the model.

If you can’t see the watch in person, ask for photos of the movement. Have a local watchmaker who works with the same manufacturer review the pictures. Some sellers are not skilled to safely remove the case back. In that situation, ask them to take it to a watchmaker to expose the internal parts. If you can’t get a view of the movement and there is no way to check a seller’s reputation, don’t buy the watch.

7) Are there original documents?

Having the original box, operation manual, and warranty card can be a nice addition to your purchase. They can give credibility to the watch’s authenticity. They can also be faked, so review them carefully. Be wary if there are only partial papers and not the complete set (warranty, instruction manual, original box, and other papers.) The printing and the construction of the box should be of high quality. Make sure the serial numbers on the watch match the documentation.

Rolex watch with complete documentation. 

Rolex watch with complete documentation. 

Ask the seller if there are any service receipts or the original invoice of the purchase. A seller might not have any of these documents. It does not mean that the watch is not genuine. Having documentation, however, will help you to assure you that you are getting what you will be paying for – an original luxury timepiece.  

8) Ask the seller questions.

Ask the seller questions. You want to discover as much information as possible to make your buying decision. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Is the watch running? If yes, is it keeping time? How accurate is it?

  • If the watch has a mechanical movement (and most luxury brands do), how long does it run if fully wound?  
  • If you are buying from an individual, ask where the watch was purchased and the reason for selling it.
  • If you can’t see the watch in person, ask for plenty of pictures of every part of the watch. Look carefully at the crown, watchband, buckle, lugs, type of case back, and serial number.
  • Has the dial has been refinished or replaced?
  • Do you know if the dial has been re-lumed? This means restoring the luminant
  • on the watch dial and hands that make them glow in the dark. This is an intricate process and requires skill to be done properly.
  • How long does the luminant glow in the dark?

9) Compare prices.

Research a variety of sources to get an idea of the fair market value of the timepiece you want. If you check auctions like eBay, look for the prices of actual pieces sold – not the asking price.

10) Consider the source.

The safest way to buy a pre-owned watch is with a local dealer that specializes in pre-owned luxury watches. Nothing beats a personal examination of a potential purchase. Conduct a Google search for the business. Check the company’s reviews on YELP, social media, and watch buying sites.

 If you are considering buying your watch online, it is truly buyer beware. Look at an online store’s reputation, rating and buyer comments.  Online sources include,,  and eBay.If the sale is by an individual, ask if the seller for the original invoice, service receipts, or other identifying documentation.  

Rolex ladies pre-owned Datejust model in Rose Gold and stainless steel and diamond markers and bezel. 

Rolex ladies pre-owned Datejust model in Rose Gold and stainless steel and diamond markers and bezel. 

12) Is there a warranty?

See if there is a warranty. A late model watch might still have the factory warranty in effect. Professional dealers commonly offer six to twelve month warranties. Some sellers will offer an extended warranty for an additional charge.  

13) What is the return policy?

Always find out if you can return a purchase if you are not satisfied. Request the exact return terms. Ask if you will get your full money back or if there will be deductions for things such as shipping and restocking fees.


Turley Jewelers specializes in the finest quality pre-owned and vintage watches. Contact us today about our extensive inventory. We will be happy to answer any of your questions about buying a pre-owned or vintage luxury brand watch. Find out how we can help you find the watch you want. Contact Us Now!










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