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Luxury Watches with a History

Pre-owned watches are intriguing thanks to their history. You can often find treasures amongst vintage watches whose values have only increased over time. Moreover, pre-owned models are often significantly less expensive than their new counterparts.


Highlights

  • Pre-owned watches are often more affordable than new ones
  • Limited editions with the potential to increase in value
  • Rare vintage watches make excellent investments

Pre-owned, yet precious collector's items

Purchasing a used watch no doubt has its charm. On the one hand, it helps you save money on many luxury watches. On the other, scratches or faded bezels or dials add character to a wristwatch. Collecting vintage watches can even become a hobby, especially for Rolex lovers, as there are so many popular and unique Rolex watches for men. Many old watches are so rare that they sell at astronomical prices. A Rolex Daytona Paul Newman from the 1960s or 70s, for example, costs at least 90,000 euros, even though it originally didn't even sell well.

Another rare vintage watch, the Rolex Submariner, has undergone a similar price development. So-called "Big Crown" versions from the 1950s, one of which James Bond wore in the 1962 film Dr. No, cost between 60,000 and 400,000 euros, depending on their condition. This Rolex watch with a big crown and no crown guard can be found via reference number 6538.

Two other variants of the Rolex Submariner are just as rare and sought after: the COMEX and Red Sub models. The Red Sub watches, produced from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, can be identified by a red "Submariner" inscription on the dial. The COMEX models are professional diving watches that Rolex developed for the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises, who specialize in diving and other deep sea work. The price for a COMEX Submariner ranges between 50,000 euros and 215,000 euros. A Red Sub costs significantly less – between 12,000 and 46,000 euros – making it the perfect introductory timepiece into the world of vintage Rolex watches.


Prices of popular vintage Rolex watches

Model Price (starting at) Features
Rolex Daytona Paul Newman 90,000 euros Extremely coveted vintage watch with an incredible increase in value over the past few years
Rolex "Big Crown" Submariner 60,000 euros 1950s diving watch, large crown without crown protection, extremely rare and highly sought after
Rolex "COMEX" Submariner 50,000 euros Very rare vintage watch, predecessor to the Rolex Sea-Dweller
Rolex "Red Sub" Submariner 12,000 euros Red Submariner inscription on the dial, highly coveted and comparatively affordable vintage Rolex

How much do pre-owned watches cost?

Like new watches, second-hand watches are found in every price class. Prices range from a few hundred euros for a pre-owned Omega women's watch to a few thousand for a pre-owned Rolex to hundreds of thousands of euros for a pre-owned Patek Philippe in very good condition. You can often find good deals on newer models from brands such as Breitling or TAG Heuer which haven't yet made it into the "very desirable" vintage watch category.

With a little luck, you can find a pre-owned Navitimer, one of Breitling's most famous chronographs, with an automatic caliber for around 2,000 euros. A new Navitimer 01 with an in-house caliber costs around 5,000 euros. The legendary TAG Heuer Carrera, originally developed for car racers, is similarly priced. Pre-owned automatic watches without a chronograph function go for less than 1,000 euros; the chronograph version costs at least 1,500 euros. For new versions, you should be prepared to spend about 1,500 euros for a three-hand variant or 2,500 euros for a chronograph.

Another iconic TAG Heuer timepiece is the Autavia, which the company re-released in 2017. There is a small selection of pre-owned Autavia re-releases, but there are many older Autavias in the vintage market. You can purchase a 1970s Autavia starting at 3,800 euros. Rarer models from the 1960s can cost you over 25,000 euros.


Detailed Price Information

Model Pre-owned price (starting at) Features
Breitling Navitimer 2,000 euros Pilot's chronograph with slide rule
TAG Heuer Carrera 1,500 euros Racing chronograph
Heuer Autavia 3,800 euros Racing chronograph
Omega Speedmaster Professional "Speedy Tuesday" 8,500 euros (new) Limited to 2,012 pieces, special edition, will possibly increase in value
Omega Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award 9,500 euros Limited to 5,441 pieces, special edition, will possibly increase in value
Omega Seamaster 300 "Spectre" 7,000 euros Limited to 7,007 pieces, special edition, will possibly increase in value
Omega Speedmaster Professional 2,500 euros Legendary chronograph, first wristwatch to reach the moon
Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M 1,500 euros Diving watch with unidirectional rotatable bezel and helium escape valve
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 6,000 euros Legendary sports watch with a 70s design
Panerai Radiomir 3,500 euros Swiss diving watch with an Italian design and 45-mm case
Panerai Luminor 3,400 euros World famous design with crown-protecting bridge and two hands
Panerai Luminor Marina 3,600 euros Luminor with a subsidiary seconds dial at nine o'clock
IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3,900 euros Classic, elegant chronograph
IWC Classic Pilot Mark XVI 2,500 euros Classic pilot's watch with a simple design and excellent legibility
IWC Ingenieur (Automatic) 2,500 euros Sports watch with a technical design
Cartier Tank 800 euros Elegant dress watch with a rectangular case
Cartier Santos 800 euros One of the first pilot's watches ever made
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso 2,500 euros JLC's most famous model, innovative rotatable case to protect the display
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 3,300 euros Extra-thin dress watch

Pre-Owned Watches from Omega

The most famous models from Omega are the Speedmaster Professional, the first watch to reach the moon, and the Seamaster, a diving watch. A quartz Seamaster Diver 300 M with a unidirectional bezel to keep track of your dive time can be found in very good condition for as little as 1,300 euros. The version with an automatic movement costs more, about 1,500 euros. A highly sought-after collector's piece is the limited edition Seamaster 300 Spectre, introduced in celebration of the 2017 Bond film, Spectre. Only 7,007 of these watches were produced, and the original list price in 2015 was 6,200 euros. Currently, however, you should plan on spending at least 7,000 euros for a pre-owned Spectre timepiece and 9,000 euros for a new one.

The Speedmater Professional chronograph, also known as the Moonwatch, is an affordable choice, available for as little as 2,500 euros pre-owned and in very good condition. A beloved collector's piece is the Snoopy (reference number 3578.51.00), which was released in 2005 and limited to 5,441 pieces. This timepiece only costs 9,500 euros pre-owned and in very good condition. The special edition Speedy Tuesday, limited to a run of 2,102, has a list price of 5,400 euros. However, only a few months after its release, the timepiece was selling for 8,500 euros new on Chrono24.


Pre-Owned Watches from Audemars Piguet

Luxury watches made by Audemars Piguet are some of the finest timepieces in the world. The Le Brassus-based manufacturer is in the same league as other world-renowned Swiss manufacturers like Patek Philippe. One of Audemars Piguet's most famous models is the Royal Oak, originally a stainless steel sports watch. Its design has remained unchanged since its introduction in the 1970s, adding to its popularity and appeal.

Pre-owned women's watches with quartz movement are available for an affordable 2,000 euros. However, if you want an automatic watch, you should be prepared to spend at least 3,000 euros. Prices for pre-owned men's watches from this series start at 4,000 euros for quartz versions and 6,000 euros for automatic watches.


Luxury Watches from Panerai

Like Rolex timepieces, Panerai watches have a strong resale value. To earn as much as possible, it's advisable to replace the strap. It's quite easy to do so, especially with the Luminor. However, the Radiomir, Panerai's second-most important model series, is a bit trickier due to the wire loop straps. Often, pre-owned models are only a few hundred euros less expensive than new timepieces.

You can purchase a pre-owned Luminor Base in very good condition for around 3,400 euros. Luminor Marina watches with subsidiary seconds at nine o'clock start at 3,600 euros. New versions are only marginally more expensive. The same applies to the Radiomir, which, unlike the Luminor, does not have a crown-protecting bridge. Pre-owned Radiomirs start at 3,500 euros.