6 Benefits of Buying a Pre-Owned Rolex vs. a New One

6 Benefits of Buying a Pre-Owned Rolex vs. a New One
March 27, 2015 10 min read
6 Benefits of Buying a Pre-Owned Rolex vs. a New One

Your choice to actually pull the trigger in any type of purchase really comes down to what you want. We could reason all day, going back and forth with logic and facts, but we’ve all succumbed to an emotional sale at least once; driven by impatience or a salesman who recognized the exact buttons to push.

I have six legitimate reasons listed here on how you would benefit from purchasing a pre-owned Rolex or other luxury watch instead of new. They will appeal to anyone weighing out the pros and cons and will turn what seems like a toss-up into a no-brainer. But after your reasoning is reasoned out, I believe the turning point is number six, where the reason isn’t exactly logical but quite emotional – and where you have to choose what type of person you want to be in this game.

Up close photo of the Rolex Yacht-Master PlatinumUp close photo of the Rolex Yacht-Master Platinum

1. Significant Discounts

You know how when you go to the car dealership, purchase that new car, and drive it off of the lot? Your new car just depreciated about 11%, which is a ridiculously huge amount considering the whopping 30 seconds you’ve actually owned the vehicle. It’s one of the first things you learn about buying a new car.

Unfortunately, the same concept applies to a luxury watch when purchased new from the authorized dealer. This can easily be avoided with a pre-owned model, where the original owner has taken the hit for you.

The easiest and safest way to purchase a pre-owned Rolex is from a reputable independent watch dealer like Watch Chest. These independent dealers weed out the aftermarket and unacceptable, perform a factory service and polish, and most offer a longer warranty than the original factory one attached. And since a lot of these companies are based online, the low overhead from not having to fund a brick-and-mortar store allows savings to be passed along to you. You won’t be subject to an authorized dealer’s fees, much like you would incur when purchasing from a car dealership.

If that sounds all well and good but maybe you’d still prefer as new as possible, I promise there’s a solution for you. There are Rolex watches out there that are “never worn,” where the owner never removed the factory plastic seals. Some are worn just slightly because the purchaser walked out of the authorized dealer with it and decided it wasn’t for them. Or perhaps it sat in a safe or safety deposit box, which is more common than you think. There are plenty of Rolex out there that have been in these very situations but it may just take a little time to find them.

Gallery photo of the Rolex Datejust 16200 with a blue dial and Oyster BraceletGallery photo of the Rolex Datejust 16200 with a blue dial and Oyster Bracelet

Rolex Datejust 16200 Wristwatch

Gallery photo of the Rolex Datejust 126200 with a Blue Fluted Motif dial and Oyster braceletGallery photo of the Rolex Datejust 126200 with a Blue Fluted Motif dial and Oyster bracelet

Rolex Datejust 126200 Wristwatch

2. Incremental Updates

Why is it that the Chanel flap bag or the Louis Vuitton Speedy continues to be a luxury staple for a woman’s wardrobe and hold its value for resale? Especially compared to other on-trend handbag collections that the fashion houses put out each season? 

It’s because these bags have essentially looked the same since their conception. Much like the Rolex Datejust or Submariner, they have established themselves as the antonym of trendy; something that holds your style together, always on point, so beautiful and classic that the updates needed are incremental. Changes or updates that happen to the Rolex models are so far and few between, each previous generation looking nearly identical to its newer self, appreciating in value rather than becoming obsolete.

The difference between a Rolex Datejust from 1992 and 2002 is miniscule. Zero changes to the mechanical movement, bracelet, or sapphire crystal. There were only a few changes in the materials used on the dial and how the bracelet attached to the case head; nothing anyone but an expert or enthusiast would notice and only if they were looking for it. The same would apply in comparing a traditional-style 2002 Rolex Datejust to a new-style 2007: holding them side by side, you would notice that there are only slight differences in the weight or style of polishing, making for a few stylistic and hardware upgrades. But Rolex continues to stay true to the Datejust’s original aesthetic, which allows you the luxury to own a previous era and still achieve the prestige of owning a Rolex.

So if your budget places you in the bracket of 2004 and older – or you even just like that style better for various reasons – it’s not seen as inferior in anyway, style or status. Each are a beautiful work of art with its own story that now belongs to you, established in horological and cultural history, appreciated by collectors and the public alike.

3. No Loss / Return on Investment

Back in 2009, there was a customer of Watch Chest’s who purchased a stainless steel Rolex Submariner. Granted, the market was abnormally soft at this time but he purchased it for $5,500 and resold it back (at wholesale) to Watch Chest in 2013… for $5,500. Had he held on to it a little longer he would have walked away with a profit.

These types of stories are not rare. The gentleman enjoyed a gorgeous Rolex for six years at virtually no cost to him. The majority of the Rolex models (namely the Submariners, two-tone Datejusts, yellow gold Day-Date Presidents) appreciate in value due to the benefit of them existing as a collector’s piece. Luxury watches have solidified their place in culture as jewelry and can last for generations. When purchasing a Rolex it can be like waiting for a bond to mature.

While the investment aspect of owning a luxury watch will still apply to you even if you purchase new from a dealer, you will have a significant head start in gaining a return if you choose a pre-owned Rolex since the first owner ate the initial loss in value.

4. The Selection of Variations Available to You

How many times have you gone into a store, looking for a particular color/flavor/size of something but they didn’t have it so you just went online? The web has a seemingly endless selection of variations at your disposal, instead of being limited to what a store has to offer.

I thought a great way to illustrate this would be to figure out the combinations available on the yellow gold Rolex Lady-Datejust Pearlmaster. If we stick with the base Pearlmaster bracelet, this particular model has 2 bezel options and a minimum of 10 dials (or faces) to choose from. This comes out to 45 different possibilities in just this one example.

Don’t be intimidated by such a large number because you can narrow that down very quickly; the fact that a Rolex is so interchangeable is a part of the beauty in owning one. Shopping online and through the resource of an independent dealer is where you are almost always able to find exactly what you want instead of having to settle for what is in the showcase in front of you.

5. Convenience

Fact: you are not able to purchase a new Rolex online from Rolex or any authorized dealer.

Perhaps you skip going to the store altogether when you know what you are looking for. You don’t waste your valuable time and wouldn’t want to. This is the epitome of internet convenience. You can browse through a selection at the pace you are comfortable with, where it’s less likely to fall subject to a feeling of needing to rush or any high-pressure sales tactics. Plus, your Rolex is delivered right to your door safe and sound, ready to be the perfect accessory to your wardrobe that you’ve been waiting for.

6. You Will Buy Like A True Collector

What I’ve just laid out for you here is essentially the fundamental differences between the normal retail structure and buying from an online independent watch dealer. How each company has to be organized either accentuates or hinders what they are able to do for you. However, I realize that I could reason it out for you all day but what it will all boil down to is the type of person you are.

The Indifferent

There are those out there that will always buy new from the authorized dealer. The Indifferent’s need to acquire something with tags on it to satisfy a psychological requirement will always trump reasoning. The Indifferent don’t mind that they are a only a number subject to retail markup and tax, blinded by impulse or mesmerized by what you believe the brick-and-mortar store has to offer. The Indifferent don’t even think about the salesman’s priorities and passion for fine timepieces, or lack thereof. The Indifferent don’t care that they were only seen as a mark because at least they walked out the door with what they wanted. There will always be those who just find it easier this way.

The Collector

Even if you’re looking to buy your first watch or wouldn’t exactly label yourself as a collector, you still have the ability to buy like a collector. A collector doesn’t buy brand new (save for a model’s initial release) because they understand the game – something you get to play and master – and choose not to be a pawn. A collector or enthusiast is just as interested in the process as the end result, appreciating not only what is to be gained from the purchase but also the culture and savvy that surrounds it. And with this you are awarded the lasting satisfaction of knowing that you took advantage of the system and came out on top.

What should be even more valued is the fact that when you buy from an independent watch dealer, you are getting a Rolex from collectors who are just as passionate as you are. Chris Wiley, the founder of Watch Chest has made sure the epitome of talent was recruited with Glenn, one of the most experienced and fervent watchmakers in the world; and our staff has had years of training and their desire to deliver the best watch possible for each specific client is genuine. So not only are you working with enthusiasts who have years upon years of combined experience, but the passion for their trade is reflected within every single Rolex they send out. A true collector of anything recognizes someone who has the same ideals and values it.

Obviously I am biased because I know Watch Chest inside and out; understanding where their priorities and intentions lie. But there are other companies out there, as well, who have the same standard of passion, quality, and customer service. These companies will always stand out.

So when you’re making your next purchase, who will you be?

All That To Say

Flagship stores and authorized dealers are necessary to set the benchmark for their industry. Apart from that, where has become the best place to buy? Who truly offers the best buying experience?

Purchasing from an independent watch dealer where Rolex is their life and more than a job creates an entirely different experience for you that goes far beyond the initial point of sale. I can’t remember a time where a client called into the Watch Chest office with questions or looking for another Rolex and one of us couldn’t recall who they were. Clients have sent the office cases of wine from their vineyards, luxury home goods, and other gifts with countless kind words because of the relationship that was created between us. That is what made working at Watch Chest more than a job.

You have the logic in front of you: convenience, the selection of inventory, continuous style, and the opportunity to avoid markup and taxes that will ultimately cost you even more in the end. In this world, the true collectors and enthusiasts not only refuse to be The Indifferent but they understand the benefits from purchasing from an independent dealer and win.


Take a look at Watch Chest's impressive curated collection of luxury watches, here.

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Copyright © 2002-present Watch Chest, LLC. All rights reserved. Watch Chest is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, S.A, or any other brands advertised by Watch Chest. The brand names and associated model names of Rolex and other advertised brands are the trademarks of their respective owners. Regardless of physical condition, all watches sold by Watch Chest are pre-owned in terms of ownership status according to legal regulations. Watch Chest provides its own warranties for the products it sells, and watches sold with manufacturer warranties are generally recognized, though their guarantee is not absolute.