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What To Look For in a Pre-Owned Watch Hero Image

What To Look For in a Pre-Owned Watch

Whether you're searching for a gift for a graduate or a new piece for yourself, a pre-owned watch can be a treasure beloved for years. Learn what to look for when exploring used wristwear, and check out our collection in the Abt Time Boutique (and get updates on new additions from our Instagram @abttimewatchboutique).

What To Avoid

Answering Suspicious Online Ads

While it can be tempting to answer unverified online ads (especially if they show up with the one timepiece you've been looking for), always look for verified sellers and trusted names. Folks from sites like eBay and third-party sellers on Amazon aren't always trustworthy, nor are social network selling spaces. Even if they say they possess papers and boxes to drive up the value of the item, there's no way to verify that, even if they provide photos. Keep an eye out for these faux sellers.

Instead, Do Your Homework

Read Up on the Market

Before you dive in, do a little bit of research on what the wristwear market is like right now, brand news, fresh styles and classic technologies. A pre-owned watch you're in love with might end up being beyond your price range because of a factor beyond your control. A change in the market might double the value of one brand while sinking others. That's because these are works of art, investments that age and build value. And a wise investor always knows what they're getting into before they make a bid. Keep in mind that a pre-owned version that includes an original box and papers is going to be more valuable than the same wristwear alone.

Know (or Learn) What You Want

When it comes to the little details, it's important to know what you're searching for. If you're a timepiece tactician, these terms will be old hat to you. But if this is your first buy, take the following into account: what's most important to you?
  • Brand? And beyond that, year and model?
  • Style? From band to face and beyond, know if you're into sporty, fashionable or a completely different look.
  • Complications? What features/tools interest you, from tachymeters to chronographs?
  • Movement? Automatic, mechanical or quartz?
  • Budget? Buying a used model can be much more or less expensive depending on what you want.
To learn more about these little details, learn more in our watch buying guide or talk to a specialist in our Time Store.

If You Know What it is, Research Your Ideal Buy

If you know for sure what model you want, get ready to do some more research. Explore online forums and read reviews to see how these models hold up: are they quick to scratch or quick to slip off the wrist? These might not seem like large issues, but can mean you'll need to examine a pre-owned watch closely for damage before you purchase it. Explore what fair prices look like, too. A true aficionado may head to a watchmaker or an expert store to request what fair pricing would be for the model before you make a purchase.

Don't Forget To Check the Services Included

Look for as much of a guarantee or warranty as possible that the watch will continue to work after you leave the shop. At Abt, we provide a two year warranty on the mechanical inner movement of the watch. That means that your watch will keep ticking for long after you leave the store. For more details on this inner movement, give us a call at 847-544-2250.

Get Ready To Buy, Wear and Win

Conduct Your Inspection

Once you've gathered all your notes and know exactly what you're looking for, make a beeline for that pre-owned watch. Whether it's a classic Omega Seamaster or a sporty G-Shock, it's time to run your inspection. A respectable shop like the Abt Time Boutique will have a master craftsman inspect every pre-owned piece before it's even placed on display, checking for scratches, improper movements and any other blemishes. But it doesn't hurt to do these visual investigations yourself as well. If you see a dent in the case, you may wonder if the movement remains undamaged. And if you notice corrosion on the face or hands, you might wonder if the corrosion reaches deeper (especially in models older than ten or twenty years). In situations like this, it's important to ensure that your dealer provides some guarantee on the movement (like Abt's two-year movement warranty).

Add to Your Collection

Once your pre-owned model has passed inspection, it's time to make that purchase. You may be tempted to keep your new investment locked away, but remember that these aren't meant to sit on shelves. They're designed to be worn, and whoever loved this pre-owned watch before you did likely wore theirs out and about. Whether you make it a styled accessory for formal events or your everyday wear, it is meant to be worn on the wrist. Let yours see the sun, feel the breeze and boost your look—it's exactly what it was made for, whether yours is just a year or two old or from decades ago. Pair with fashionable sunglasses for a complete look.
Prefer to browse for pieces that catch your fancy rather than dive into research? Head into Abt's Time Boutique. Our pre-owned watch collection is always changing, so if you don't see a piece you love today, you may tomorrow. Check back or call us at 847-544-2250 if you're a collector; you'll never know when that collector's piece you love will come in.