As much fun as it is to walk into a store and look at all the beautiful new watches that were just released, sometimes they do not speak to us in the same way the old styles did. They are not the watch you saw in that store years ago that you could never shake the thought of one day owning. Maybe the limited edition that you did not learn about in time has sold out or was never sold in your country. For many, pre-owned is the only way to be able to purchase a specific timepiece that is no longer available new but still tugs at our hearts. Depending on the brand, you may even be saving money on a watch that has simply had a previous life. These are some of the many reasons pre-owned is a great way to purchase a watch. Here are seven great choices that you can only buy pre-owned.
Rolex Submariner 16610 – The best of both worlds
This generation of the Rolex Submariner sits between the classic vintage style and the newer maxi case Submariners. It has the appeal of a vintage design but with modern advantages. Its white gold markers filled with Super-LumiNova will not yellow or crack over time, and its Caliber 3135 movement lives up to its reputation for durability and precision. The 16610 has a case shape that is slimmer and flows better into the bracelet than the newer Submariner models produced since 2010. What you do lose with this older model is the scratch and fade-resistant ceramic bezel – not a bad tradeoff for a classic watch with a slimmer look than what you will find on current Submariners.
Rolex Explorer 214270 – For the Largest wrist
The Rolex Explorer – as the name suggests – has always been a rugged watch meant for adventurers and explorers to take wherever they wish to go. From its debut in 1953 until 2010 it was a traditional 36 mm in size. In 2020 however Rolex committed what most purists considered heresy, increasing the size to a more modern 39 mm with the introduction of the 214270. For those of us who always loved the Explorer but never felt that the smaller 36 mm fit well on our wrists, this was a blessing. The 39 mm Explorer hit the sweet spot for those with larger wrists while still looking great on smaller wrists where the 36 mm versions once felt at home. In the end the purists won out, and in 2021 Rolex brought back the original 36 mm design. This leaves the 214270 Explorer as the best option for those of us who need a little more dial on our wrists in a watch that can now only be found pre-owned.
First Omega in Space 3220.127.116.11.01.001 – Vintage vibes with modern build quality
The First Omega in Space is an homage to the model that Walter “Wally” Schirra wore during his 1962 space flight on the Sigma 7, the 5th flight in the Project Mercury space program. The original model is called the CK2998 and has a few features not found on the Speedmaster Professional that would become the official watch of NASA and the first watch worn on the Moon. The First Omega in Space comes with a case size just under 40 mm, making it easier to wear than the 42 mm Moonwatch. It also has straight lugs, alpha style hands, and lacks the crown guards found in the asymmetrical case of the Moonwatch. All of this gives a well-proportioned vintage look to the watch. It was first introduced in 2012 as a numbered edition but it was so popular that it continued to be sold up until the end of 2020. Even with more than fifteen thousand made it continues to climb in aftermarket value thanks to its popularity and end to its production. The First Omega in Space is now only available pre-owned and is as popular as ever.
Omega Seamaster 300M 2531.80.00 – Bond…..the Omega Bond
This is the first Omega that James Bond wore. For many of us who grew up playing Golden Eye on the N64 it’s also the first watch we saw on a celebrity or in a movie. Starting with the 2541.80.00 (the quartz version) in Golden Eye and going into the 2531.80.00 as seen in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day, this is the watch that the Pierce Brosnan Bond wore. It is the watch that re-launched the modern Seamaster 300M. While the newer versions of the 300M have introduced Omega’s Co-Axial movements, ceramic bezels, and METAS certification sometimes nothing beats the nostalgic feel of the original you grew up admiring. If you want a nice sentimental read about this one check out Cole Pennington’s article on Hodinkee. It is a classic design that looks great while having a Martini (shaken, not stirred of course).
Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary SBGR311 – The other Grand Seiko Whirlpool
When Grand Seiko came back state-side in 2017, they were an almost immediate hit. The Zaratsu polishing and intricate dials distinguished them from their Swiss counterparts. While some of the biggest hits like the SBGA211 “Snowflake” are still in production today, other popular models can only be purchased pre-owned, such as the SBGH267 and the SBGR311. These models stand out due to their distinctive dials with the Grand Seiko logo in a radial spiral pattern reminiscent of a whirlpool, giving them their nickname. They were made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Grand Seiko’s 9S movement, with a limited run of 1500 for the SBGH267 and 1300 for the SBGR311. The biggest difference in these two watches is the popularity of the blue dial SBGH267 which has climbed to double its original price. The slightly rarer SGBR311 has seen a slower price increase, making the brown dial a great buy at half the price of the blue dial version.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Q1548530 – A classic sector dial that you missed if you blinked
Released in 2017 as part of a collection to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Master Control line, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date with a sector dial was an immediate hit. With a classic look and modern engineering that is subjected to the thousand hours of testing needed to pass the Master Control test, it found a home on many people’s wrists. Unfortunately, Jaeger-LeCoultre only made this gem for one year. The watch has proven to have a strong presence in the pre-owned world, and price has slowly gone up as demand for it has increased.
Cartier Santos Galbée – The Santos that set the modern standard
While the Cartier Santos has been around since 1904, it is the Galbée model that made it a modern mainstay. This generation brought us a curved case and lug design that was a departure from the angular case shape of old. This gave the watch a sleeker feel that instantly made it a hit with both men and women. The design lasted for 28 years before being replaced by the Santos 100 and later the Santos de Cartier. Because of its popularity and longevity, the Galbée is instantly recognizable and aesthetically represents what most people consider the quintessential Santos: square shaped, with curved edges, and great proportions. The newer Santos de Cartier looks the part of the successor, but nothing beats the original modern Santos Galbée.