The Pros and Cons of Buying New Watches vs. Vintage Watches

If you’re here, it means you’re on the hunt for a new watch and are torn between buying new or buying vintage. We have some answers.

In today’s watch world where collecting has become one of the biggest trends of the century, more and more people are turning to the second-hand and vintage watch market for their purchases. However, there are those collectors who prefer to buy their watches brand new – even if that means they have to spend a couple of years on a waiting list.

There are pros and cons to both routes. Here we take a look at just a few of the important pros and cons of buying new watches versus buying vintage watches, but keep in mind there is no right or wrong answer. In the end, it comes down to personal taste, and many watch collectors have both new and pre-owned in their collections.

Price and value

In general, prices of vintage watches are more affordable, while buying new usually carries a heftier price tag. Additionally, just like with a new car, the minute you drive it off the lot (or take it out of the store), its resale value diminishes. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule for certain brands, such as Rolex or Patek Philippe, but generally, you would not get the same resale value from a new watch that you paid for it.

Condition

When buying a new watch, you know you are getting it in mint condition. You will be the one who gets the first scratch on it. When buying vintage, no matter how well it has been taken care of, there are bound to be some nicks, dings or scratches. However, many people feel that this gives the watch character. Often, it can be a conversation starter.

Reliability, Accuracy, Functions

Generally, new watches are made with the most up-to-date materials, including high-tech materials such as silicium inside the movement that make it more accurate and reliable than a vintage watch. By their nature, vintage timepieces will not necessarily be as accurate or precise as a modern watch. The accuracy of mechanical watches has come a long way over the years and continues to be improved. Additionally, watch brands are always innovating and today’s new watches may offer more features and functions than a watch of yesteryear.

Selection

You may be in the market for a watch that is popular amongst collectors and therefore is difficult to find one new. This is where buying vintage can be an advantage. There is a lot of inventory on the reputable pre-owned sites and this may give you the opportunity to buy a particular brand or model that you just can’t get new.

Servicing

Additionally, when you buy a new watch, you typically won’t need to pay for servicing for several years. However, with a vintage watch, it may need more frequent upkeep, including oiling of the movement parts.

Resistance

If you are an active, on-the-go person, you may prefer a new watch that can go the distance with you. Many of today’s watches are extremely water-resistant, anti-magnetic, and shock-resistant. Vintage watches, especially pre-1950’s timepieces are typically not very water-resistant and not shock resistant.  So, think about your lifestyle carefully before making the new watch vs. vintage watch decision.

Warranty/Guarantee

Naturally, when buying a new watch, you receive a warranty or guarantee with it – sometimes covering the watch for up to five years. However, when buying a vintage watch, the warranty has expired. Does this matter to you? Another thing to consider is does having the original packaging matter? Some people like to keep the watch boxes in case they decide to sell the watch down the road. You can do this with a new watch. Many vintage watches, though, don’t come with the original box. Keep in mind, though, that some sellers of vintage and pre-owned watches do have that packaging.

Tender Loving Care

There is no getting around the fact that when you buy pre-owned or vintage, depending on the age of the watch, you may need to give a little extra TLC to that vintage piece versus a new watch. A vintage watch just may not be as durable as today’s new watches. It’s just like a classic car, it looks beautiful and has a lot of personality, but you need to baby it.

So, to sum it up:

Buying New Pros & Cons

Buying Vintage or Pre-owned Pros & Cons

About the Author

Roberta Naas - Watch Journalist
Roberta Naas

Roberta Naas is a veteran watch and jewelry journalist who began her career in the early 1980’s, and was the first female watch journalist in the United States. She is the editor and founder of the authoritative watch blog, ATimelyPerspective, has written six books on watches, writes for numerous consumer publications (including Forbes and Elite Traveler) – and always brings forth in her work the essence of what makes watches tick. She tirelessly travels the world in search of watch news and stories that she turns into compelling and enlightening articles.

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