In the used luxury watch market, you will often see two terms being bandied around together. On the face of it, they sound very similar but is this really the case? The two terms in question are unworn watches and pre-owned watches. In the vast majority of cases, both refer to luxury watches you could find on the used market although, in truth, an unworn watch could constitute a brand-new one.
Why this rarely comes up is that sellers of brand-new watches, almost invariably approved dealers of the big watch brands like Tissot, Longines and Rolex, will usually always refer to brand-new watches as just that, brand new, and not unworn. Other than this slight area of confusion when it comes to new luxury wristwatches, there are some important points to consider when it comes to unworn and pre-owned timepieces.
What are they? Read on to find out.
What is an Unworn Second-Hand Watch?
To begin with, it will be worth explaining exactly what luxury watch dealers in the second-hand market mean when they say an unworn watch. They mean a watch that has had a previous owner since the watch was first manufactured. Indeed, such a timepiece could have had several previous owners. It could have been bought and sold many times over the course of its life, as it were, but the thing that makes it unworn is that it will be as good today as the day it was first purchased.
An unworn watch, therefore, is one that has never been worn and certainly only taken out of its box on rare occasions. This is important because watches that have been worn – even only a few times, in many cases – will scuff and mark. Precious metals like gold are soft so this is inevitable. The glazing on the crystal is usually where signs of a watch having been worn are most obvious. Other places to look are on the box. A box that’s been opened and closed repeatedly will wear, too.
Clearly, anything that makes a watch look as though it’s been worn will affect its value. True unworn watches, which still have their original bill of sale and box, demand the highest prices on the used market.
What is a Pre-Owned Watch?
As you might have gathered from the aforementioned description of what makes an unworn second-hand watch distinctive, a pre-owned watch will necessarily show signs of having been worn before.
Light scuff marks that only reveal themselves on close inspection won’t necessarily affect valuations greatly but watches that have been worn repeatedly will be worth less than similar models of the same vintage with fewer marks.
Is the Distinction Between Unworn and Pre-Owned Watches Worth Making?
Yes, according to Bonds of Brentwood, an established luxury watch dealer in Essex, unscrupulous sellers sometimes try to market pre-owned luxury wristwatches at the prices unworn models fetch.
If you’re shown such a valuation, then make sure the watch is in immaculate condition with the correct provenance and accessories. If in doubt, don’t proceed but turn to a reputable second-hand watch dealer instead.