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Understanding Pre-Owned Watches

07 May 21

If you are considering the purchase of a pre-owned watch, there are several factors to bear in mind when making your choice.

Our collection of pre-owned watches includes a comprehensive selection of models from brands we partner including Rolex, Patek Philippe and TUDOR alongside an eclectic range of watches from many other luxury Swiss brands. Your pre-owned buying experience should be as enjoyable and with the same level of confidence as when buying a brand new watch from Prestons.

When considering the purchase of a pre-owned watch, there are several factors to bear in mind and this dedicated guide explores two of the most important considerations, provenance and condition.

Provenance - What is the history of the watch in terms of servicing and ownership, is it complete with box and papers as this will have a considerable bearing on value?

ConditionIs the condition of the watch commensurate with its age, it is important that the description is accurate and qualified with photography of a high standard.

Provenance Many of our pre-owned watches were originally retailed by us and have been part-exchanged or sold to us by known clients. This provides us with a more complete understanding of a watch’s history and its authenticity and if you are considering buying a pre-owned watch, it offers more comfort that the watch is as described.

The paperwork is usually the term most used for the original certificate or manufacturer’s guarantee, which historically used to come in the form of a certificate. As time and technology has progressed, this now usually comes in the form of a card with the transition happening in the last 10-15 years. The paperwork typically depicts key information about the watch, including: date of sale, model reference, serial number, in some cases the name of the first owner and the retailer the watch was originally purchased from. A pre-owned watch with its original box and papers always commands a premium over one without.

The majority of pre-owned watches that we retail are with the original box and paperwork, described as a full set but on occasions we do offer pre-owned watches without the above. Patek Philippe will offer secondary documentation in the form of an extract from the archives but the watch must have been purchased originally prior to 1989 and there is a cost for this to be provided. In the event that a watch doesn’t come with any paperwork, our watchmakers will verify the authenticity of both the external and internal components, ensuring that you have total peace-of-mind when purchasing a pre-owned or vintage watch from us. In many cases, a watch without any original documentation can often represent excellent value.

Box & Papers – The watch is accompanied with its original box, papers and all the relevant documentation. If the watch remains within the manufacturers’ warranty or is accompanied by service warranty, this will be included also.

Box & Papers (Not Dated) – If the box and papers are not dated, this means all of the original documentation, like above, is included but there is no obvious date on any of the documents. In certain instances, this makes it more challenging for an accurate age of the watch to be established.

Box Only – The watch is accompanied by its original box but no original paperwork or manufactures paperwork.

Papers Only – In this instance a watch is offered with its original paperwork but no box. The team at each of our showrooms will offer you a Prestons storage pouch to keep the watch in when you are not wearing it.

None – The watch is offered with no box or original paperwork.


Before we offer a pre-owned watch for sale the watch, if required, is serviced and refurbished and if it is a Rolex this work is undertaken within our authorised Rolex service centre, other brands will be returned to the manufacturer if any work is required.

We grade the condition of the watch as accurately as we can and the watches are photographed within our own photography studio and are an accurate depiction of the condition of the watch for sale.  We use the following glossary to assist decision making.

Unworn: Usually aged stock that has only ever been on display or unworn by the original owner.

As New: A watch which is considered to be in as new condition, shows no signs of obvious wear or is considered essentially to be in brand new condition.

Excellent: A watch which has been worn but well looked after and cared for with possibly the odd hairline scratch.

Good: A watch which shows signs of wear but has been cared for. If our team list a watch as good condition, it may mean that the watch has simply been well-loved by its original owner.

Average: If a watch has been listed as average condition it often means that the timepiece has begun showing signs of its age and clear signs of wear that would be obvious to the wearer.

Why Prestons?

There are many different channels from which to buy a pre-owned watch, from specialist websites, platforms, retailers who are not Authorised Dealers, the list goes on. Prestons are Authorised Dealers for Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR and have decades of experience of retailing many other brands.

If you buy a pre-owned watch from Prestons you can do so with confidence, in the condition, the value proposition and the integrity that our reputation allows.  Every pre-owned watch we sell has our unique 36 month guarantee and buy back promise at a minimum of 75% of the selling price*. *Subject to the condition of the watch, contact us here for further information.

For further information regarding our pre-owned watch collections, please contact your nearest showroom. Our pre-owned collection is available to view online, at Prestons Leeds or at Prestons Wilmslow or Guildford, by appointment.

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