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Discovering Pre-Owned Watches: An Interview with Chris Haynes

21 December 21

Here, we interview Chris Haynes, who recently joined Prestons as Pre-Owned Watch Manager and learn more about his experience, his favourite pre-owned watches and his key advice if you are considering a pre-owned wristwatch.

To work alongside a selection of the finest watch houses in the world for over 14 years is an incredible achievement, what is it that first attracted you to working with wristwatches?  

I was in a very privileged position to grow up around them, my family used to own a jewellery and watch showroom. In fact, I am a fourth-generation jeweller, so you could say it’s in my blood. I started out working weekends, I was struck by a drive to learn everything I possibly could about watches and the rest is history. I have since had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s finest watch brands including: Omega, Cartier, A. Lange & Sohne, IWC, Breitling, Zenith and TAG Heuer, to name just a few.  For me, it’s the engineering and the stories surrounding watches that fascinate me, the places they have been, the people associated with them. I am lucky enough to be able to indulge my passion for watches as a career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I still find it incredible how intricate a watch movement is, I like to see watches as functional pieces of art and really hope to share this passion with our clients. 

If a client is interested in purchasing their first pre-owned watch, what are the key pieces of advice you would offer them?

In my opinion, condition is everything when it comes to a pre-owned timepiece, so make sure you purchase a properly prepared watch. In terms of condition, I like to be thorough. I check the case to see if it has been polished properly, that there are no impact marks or deep scratches. I look to see how the bracelet is wearing, whether the pins are starting to show or if the bracelet is displaying signs of lateral movement. It is also important to check the glass for scratches and chips, and the dial for any signs of historic damage. If it passes all of these checks, I would be happy to describe a watch as ‘excellent’. Naturally, you have to take age into consideration, on some vintage models, typically more than 30 years old in age, originality takes precedent over perfection.  

Whilst it is not essential, it always helps with the future value of a watch to have the box, the original sales warranty and any instructions manuals – for me, it does also help to tell the story of a watch. I would also suggest, buying from a reputable retailer, i.e. a well-established business with a physical showroom and access to accredited service centres for their watches, will help to ensure there are no surprises further down the line, whether that is from the provenance or from a surprising bill for a repair or service. 

In your opinion, what makes a pre-owned watch or the pre-owned watch market so exciting? 

The sheer variety of watches offered across the pre-owned market is absolutely thrilling, you just never know what might be available or what a client may be looking to part-exchange or sell from their collection. I would suggest that one of the biggest changes recently is the growth in interest in small-volume and independent manufactures, it certainly seems to be a golden era for haute horology. 

One of my personal challenges is finding hidden gems for clients, the watches that offer an unusual story or are unfairly overlooked within the pre-owned market. For example, an IWC that we recently sourced for our showrooms, a Da Vinci Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, in platinum, from the mid-1990s. A deeply impressive watch from a technical perspective, it uses the Kurt Klaus’ revolutionary perpetual calendar module, which can be adjusted fully purely from the winding crown. The concept means that something as complex as a perpetual calendar can be set as easily as an ordinary watch with date. The team and I are currently preparing the watch for sale, we believe it will offer spectacular value for money and it’s a great example of a brand pushing the boundaries of horology from an era where watches were still recovering from the impact of the quartz crisis. 

Another story that springs to mind was a time when I was able to purchase a highly unusual Omega Speedmaster Professional from the 1970s. It was bought from the family of a doctor; he had originally obtained the watch to help him with his work. Typically, you would find a Speedmaster Professional with a tachymetric bezel, used in conjunction with the chronograph to calculate average speed. However, on this example, it was specified with a pulsometer bezel, which helps to calculate heart rate – perfect for a doctor! It had been well used but well cared for, I can only imagine how many lives it had helped to save. 

The pre-owned collection offered at Prestons includes a comprehensive selection of timepieces, but do you have one model you think is particularly interesting? 

I am not sure I could select just one! The first of my favourites right now is our Rolex Cellini Prince. Based on an original model from the 1930s, it oozes art deco charm and sophistication. The Rolex Cellini collection is named after the great Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, who created his masterpieces in the 16th Century, so naturally you will only find Cellini models offered in precious metals. It is also unique in the fact it is the only Rolex to come from the factory with a display caseback, showing off an elaborately decorated chronometer grade movement. It is a great example of how diverse our selection of pre-owned watches is. 

The second would be our Cartier Tortue. Cartier has been making impossibly elegant wristwatches since the early 20th Century and the Tortue (French for tortoise) was the third model conceived by the brand. An intriguing tonneau shape case is accentuated here by a spectacular diamond set bezel, a perfect contrast to the warmth of the 18ct rose gold used. Unusually for Cartier, it also uses a beautifully finished manual wind movement, visible through a sapphire display case back. The one offered in our pre-owned collection is presented with its iconic red Cartier box and original sales warranty from 2007. 

Prestons Leeds, based on Commercial Street, showcases your entire pre-owned collection – why is this?

We wanted to have a focused space to showcase our pre-owned collection in its entirety, as well as having a team dedicated to the challenges and variety that pre-owned presents. Zoe Gueller, the Showroom Manager at Prestons Leeds, and her team are experts in this collection and allow our clients the opportunity to explore the breadth of our pre-owned collection in one beautiful location. However, if you are not local to Leeds, we can also arrange for any of our pre-owned watches to be viewed at our Wilmslow and Guildford showrooms as well. 

Is it possible to purchase from your pre-owned collection online? How does this work? 

Absolutely! The vast majority of our watches are available for purchase directly online, up to a certain price point, with you having the option for home delivery or click and collect from our Leeds, Wilmslow or Guildford showrooms. For more valuable pieces, the team and I would initially invite you to reserve your chosen pre-owned watch online, a member of our dedicated team will then be in touch to discuss options for payment and delivery or collection. We understand that our clients may want more information before making a final decision, we are always available by phone and email to help you make your decision. I, for one, always enjoy discussing the back story of our pre-owned watches as well as their unique features, it’s wonderful being able to guide clients to the right choice for them. 

For you, what is it about the pre-owned collection at Prestons that makes it unique? 

For me, it is the way we prepare our pre-owned watches and how we support our clients after purchase. Our showrooms are fortunate to have an authorised service centre which means every single pre-owned Rolex we offer for sale is inspected, verified, prepared and, if necessary, serviced and refurbished to high standards by our team of in-house watchmakers. 

In addition to this, we offer an industry-leading 36 month warranty on every single pre-owned watch we sell, giving complete peace of mind. If you want to change your watch in the future, we offer a buy-back program on pre-owned watches, offering at least 75% of the price you originally paid to take the watch back. 

If you would like to view our entire pre-owned watch collection, please click here. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to a dedicated member of the team, please contact your local Prestons showroom here.




Our Showrooms

Over the years, generations of families have become customers of Prestons, and many have gone on to become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Wilmslow, Guildford, Norwich and Leeds.

Prestons Guildford


Our Guildford showroom, which is now located on the opposite side of the high street, is designed to reflect the architectural merit of the Edwardian building it now occupies. The store features newly extended spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases, alongside a comfortable lounge to allow our clients to explore our bridal and fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Wilmslow


Located in the heart of Wilmslow, this showroom features a selection of spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases. Of course, the bridal collections Prestons have always been famous for remain a prominent feature of the store and surround the famous Aquarium Bar which sits at its centre. Explore This Showroom

Rolex by Prestons, Leeds


This showroom, located in Victoria Gate, features extensive Rolex showcases alongside a discrete VIP lounge. Every element of the interior design radiates the values of the Rolex crown: excellence, precision and attention to detail from louvre walls in walnut, to the careful calibration of colours and patterns within the fittings and furnishings. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Norwich


Located on the historic Norwich high street, Prestons Norwich has been expanded and redesigned to reflect the character of the building it has occupied for over 150 years. The showroom features collections by Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR alongside our fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom
Guildford showroom