Watch purchase

Buying a second-hand watch

The purchase of a second-hand watch, whether contemporary or a collector’s item, needs a few guidelines and warnings

Why is it better to buy a watch with its box and papers ?

Acquiring a watch complete with its presentation box and papers is always preferable, as these help to authenticate the watch and its source.
A “complete” watch is often the guarantee that the piece has been well maintained, and has only a few previous owners, each of them sufficiently careful enough to have kept everything.

Besides which, it will be easier for you when you in turn wish to sell your watch.

Can I buy a watch that doesn’t work?
Do not take the risk of buying a watch that that doesn’t work.
One that works, even very badly, can almost always be repaired at very little cost, whereas a watch with a blocked mechanism can be extremely expensive to repair, or completely beyond repair.

What should appear on the purchase certificate?
Have the seller fill in and sign a dated certificate of purchase, complete with his/her proof of identity (number of passport, driving license or identity card) and include on it all information to do with the watch: brand, model, serial number, as well as the amount of the transaction and means of payment.

How should I pay for my acquisition?
If possible, never pay the total amount of the transaction in cash, as you are prohibited by law above a certain amount, and for you, a cheque cashed by the seller is proof of good faith in the case of litigation, for example if the watch was stolen.

What precautions should I take during the purchase of a very valuable watch or one that has many complications?

For extremely expensive or complicated watches, only the revision and maintenance bills will reassure you.
However, when buying a very valuable watch, it would be entirely legitimate to ask the seller to apply to the brand for an authentication and valuation of the watch (at your expense) and if necessary, a servicing estimate.


Buying a watch from a private individual

What do I need to examine a watch closely?
A very least you’ll need a watchmaker’s magnifying glass or a thread counter, as well as a small penknife, to examine the watch from every angle.

How to examine a watch
After checking (if they exist) the accompanying papers (certificate of guarantee, official chronometry certificate and resale invoice) don’t forget to ask about any maintenance operations carried out on the watch, when the last service was, and who carried it out. After this, you can continue with a through, close examination of the watch.

Overall condition

  • Appearance: excellent, good or average
  • Are all the hands correctly positioned - not twisted, or with tritium coating missing?
  • Is the bracelet in good condition? Even if you intend to replace the leather bracelet, it will still tell you a lot about the maintenance of the watch.
  • Is the watch clean?
  • Do you feel confident, reassured, or not?

    Working order

    Try out the winding crown, the date-set, does everything work ?
    In the case of a watch with automatic winding, check to see whether the rotor turns correctly by giving the watch a few light taps of the knuckle.

    Sometimes, a watch that hasn’t been worn for several years will get blocked. If this is the case, tap the case once or twice on the opposite side of the winder against a hard surface that won’t harm the watch, for instance a wooden table or carpeted floor. This will often be enough to get the mechanism going again.

    If from the outside, the object of your dreams seems to fulfill all these criteria, it is time to go a little further and conduct a more intimate examination, and this is where things start to get complicated.
    If, and only if, you feel sure of yourself, you can proceed to the last stage, and with the permission of the owner, open the case. If you are sure of yourself, very few sellers will refuse. Otherwise, insist that it is examined by a professional at your expense.
    Obviously we are talking here about fairly simple watches with no major constraints as regards water resistance.
    Open the case with the right tool, (penknife or watch opener).
    You will immediately be able to see the real state of the watch, in terms of dirt, traces of rust, and discoloration. You can also instantly authenticate whether the watch carries the markings that correspond correctly to the brand. Take note of the condition of the various parts of the mechanism, such as spirals and cogwheels. Any broken parts can easily be seen under a magnifying glass.
    Without making yourself out to be a real master watchmaker’s apprentice, close examination of the inside will tell you a great deal about the real condition of the watch.

    After all this, if you still like the watch, and if the price suits you, buy it without delay, as you might end up regretting that you passed up a fine piece if you hesitate for too long. A fine watch at a good price doesn’t usually stay on the market for long.

Buying a watch from a professional dealer

The purchase of a watch from a well-established professional is in many cases a guarantee for a novice, who will be able to trust the expert’s eye. An expert who, in a way and in return for a commission, will himself have bought the watch for his customers, before putting it on sale once again. In most cases, the professional dealer will have done all the work necessary on the watch before offering it to his clientele:
°Cleaning and polishing the case
°Maintenance and restoration of the movement
°Replacement of the bracelet

Added to this, he will have checked the authenticity of the watch, and that it has not been declared stolen, and will then supply a new guarantee for mechanical parts, usually valid for a year from the date of the invoice. The professional will put not only his name but also his reputation to all these elements.
Obviously we can’t emphasize enough, that if you are looking to buy very a specific model, never to go into a store without first having consulted The Watch Quote

Buying a second-hand Rolex

We will try to give you the best grounding of know-how to help you buy a second-hand Rolex in full knowledge of the facts.
Buying a watch in its original box and with all the papers is always preferable, as these will prove authenticity and the source of the watch.

After you have checked the authenticity of the watch, see: “Checking the authenticity of a second-hand ROLEX” and our rubrics ROLEXMANIA .Now it’s your turn…

By definition, a ROLEX OYSTER is designed to be a reliable and robust timepiece, and is without doubt the brand that uses the best quality stainless steel in the manufacture of its watches. This will make complete restoration much easier in the vast majority of cases, though the work should always be carried out by a specialist. It is also one of the brands for which spare parts are easy to obtain.
Furthermore, even when treated badly, ROLEX movements do not contain any grand complication that could cause major problems.
Overall inspection of the condition of the watch

The bracelet
Until the 1980s, OYSTER or JUBILEE bracelets were produced in bent or bent and riveted metal, which in most cases will result in stretched links and a bracelet that needs replacing.
However, bracelets produced from then on were made with solid materials, making them far more resistant to long-term deformation. They rarely need replacing, and at most, a thorough polishing and maybe the replacement of one or two links will do the trick.

The case
From the outside, unless there are signs of a major impact, ROLEX cases age very well, and the most you will need to do is to get it polished according to the rules by a specialist.

The crystal

Sapphire or Plexiglass

The sapphire crystal is more resistant to shock and fine scratches but if it is damaged, it will need replacing.
Plexiglass, being more flexible, tends to suffer from fine scratches, but can be polished in a few minutes either with a lathe or by hand, and will instantly come up like new. In fact, you can even do it yourself with a soft cloth and a little "Miror". See:How to clean your watches

Do not hesitate to ask the dealer to apply to the brand for an authentication and valuation of the watch (at your expense) and if necessary, a servicing estimate.


Authenticating a second-hand ROLEX.

There are more counterfeit ROLEX than any other brand, watches that have been tampered with, and rip-offs of every kind in the world of second-hand watches.
All OYSTER cases are numbered under the bracelet attachments, and you only have to remove the bracelet to find the number.
Under the upper attachment, at 12 o’clock, you’ll find the ROLEX model reference.
Under the lower attachment, at 6 o’clock, the series number of the watch.

You can then refer to our rubric “ROLEXMANIA – all ROLEX References” to check that the reference number corresponds to the ROLEX model.
Then refer to our rubric “ROLEXMANIA Production dates” to check that the series number corresponds to the production year of the watch.

If the watch you’re looking at does not carry or no longer carries these identity numbers, just walk on by.
Do not hesitate to contact ROLEX by phone to check whether the watch that you’re longing for has not been declared stolen on their files.
They will be only too pleased to provide you with the answer right away.

By definition, a ROLEX OYSTER is designed to be a reliable and robust timepiece, and is without doubt the brand that uses the best quality stainless steel in the manufacture of its watches. Furthermore, even when treated badly, ROLEX movements do not contain any grand complication that could cause major problems.

Overall inspection

The bracelet

Until the 1980s, OYSTER or JUBILEE bracelets were produced in bent or bent and riveted metal, which in most cases will result in stretched links and a bracelet that needs replacing.
However, bracelets produced from then on were made with solid materials, making them far more resistant to long-term deformation. They rarely need replacing, and at most, a thorough polishing and maybe the replacement of one or two links will do the trick.

The case

From the outside, unless there are signs of a major impact, ROLEX cases age very well, and the most you will need to do is to get it polished according to the rules by a specialist.

The crystal

Sapphire or Plexiglass

The sapphire crystal is more resistant to shock and fine scratches but if it is damaged, it will need replacing.
Plexiglass, being more flexible, tends to suffer from fine scratches, but can be polished in a few minutes either with a lathe or by hand, and will instantly come up like new. In fact, you can even do it yourself with a soft cloth and a little Miror.

False or counterfeit watches

A counterfeit or false watch is easy to identify at first glance in 95% of cases, and signs include the following:
Does not conform to original model, its appearance, dial, hands, inferior quality date indicator, magnifying glasses that don’t magnify, overall quality of materials such as crude alloys instead of stainless steel, bad quality gold plating, serial numbers absent, out of place or of inferior quality.

Be extremely alert when dealing with watches priced at over 12,000 euros (retail price new).

Certain counterfeits of very high quality watches are manufactured in good materials such as gold and stainless steel, with good quality movements, and circulate at prices generally two to three times less than the retail price.
Simply tell yourself that miracles happen very rarely, and a good transaction must be made on a solid basis at a logical price… At your own risk

We will take this opportunity to remind you that counterfeiting carries a heavy punishment and fines, and very rightly so.

Watches that do not conform to an original.

In the case where watches from major brands are extremely highly valued, there are, unfortunately, a large number of watches that have been tampered with, that professionals will refuse to buy. They generally end up on the private market, or are sold by public auction.

You will see everything, watches with mechanisms that don’t correspond to the model or the brand, oddly repainted dials, false dials, genuine-false dials (Rolex red SUBMARINA and DAYTONA Paul Newman, for example). In short, anything is possible.

Take great care.

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