Why Would Pre-Owned be More Expensive than New?

Watches that Gain Value in the Pre-Owned Market

As leaders in the pre-owned market, one of the top questions we get is about the value of timepieces. Which watches increase or decrease in value and why? Like a car driven off the lot, most watches depreciate the moment they hit your wrist. Even if you carefully maintain your watch and keep it regularly serviced, it will most likely decrease in value. This is precisely why it’s great to buy in the pre-owned market. On many occasions, you can get a watch that’s like new at a fraction of the cost.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. There are certain pre-owned models that appreciate in value. It’s true, these models may be few and far between, but they do in fact exist. We’re here to help you understand why a particular watch might be more expensive in the pre-owned market.

Retired Timepieces

There are three primary reasons why a pre-owned watch might be more expensive than a comparable new model. The first explanation is retirement. For instance, say a watch brand discontinues the production of a certain model or specific variation of a model. Once the manufacture of the model stops, the supply of that watch becomes finite. It’s limited to the number produced before retirement. Therefore, when examples of that model enter the pre-owned market, they become highly coveted and, in return, highly valuable. This could very well cause the watch to be more expensive than its initial retail price.

One example of this is the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Reference 5402. The brand produced this batch, also known as the A-Series, in a limited run of just 1000 pieces. With only 1000 pieces ever manufactured and available for resale, the 5402 has become quite expensive in the pre-owned market.

Limited Edition Timepieces

The second reason a model might increase in value over time is if it’s a limited edition. Like retired or discontinued models, the number of limited edition models a manufacturer produces is restricted to a finite quantity. In the same vein, when one of those limited edition models hits the pre-owned market, it’s in high demand. Thus, it’s likely to appreciate.

There are a few examples of limited edition watches that could be more expensive in the pre-owned market than new. The first is the OMEGA Speedmaster Pulsometer, Reference CK2998. The original CK2998 debuted in 1959. Astronaut Wally Schirra wore the model during the 1962 Mercury Sigma 7 mission. The watch has historical significance as the first OMEGA in space. After the brand retired the original reference, they released a couple different limited edition variations. They introduced the latest in 2018 in a run of a fitting 2998 pieces. Two other limited edition models that have appreciated in value are the OMEGA Snoopy Award watches. These two timepieces each commemorate the Silver Snoopy Award NASA presented to OMEGA in 1970. OMEGA released the first model in 2003 in 5441 pieces and the second in 2015 in just 1970 pieces.

High Demand for Popular Timepieces

Another explanation as to why a model might be more expensive in the pre-owned market is basic supply and demand. The fine art of watchmaking has undoubtedly evolved when it comes to large-scale production. However, there are certain models that are so popular in the market, manufacturers simply can’t keep up with the demand. There are buyers and collectors who might sit on a waitlist for years before getting a coveted model. Therefore, when such models enter the pre-owned market, they’re highly prized.

There are a few models like this today. The first is the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Reference 5711. The brand first launched the 5711 in 2006 as an updated version of the basic stainless steel Nautilus. The demand has grown so high for this particular model, Patek Philippe raised the price by 20% in 2018. As a result, prices in the pre-owned market have only continued to surge. A pre-owned 5711 is going for nearly double the retail cost of a brand new version.


A second example is the Rolex “Hulk” Submariner, Reference 116610LV that first debuted in 2010. This iteration of the iconic Submariner is arguably one of the most daring designs in the Rolex catalog. The rich green hue is simply one-of-a-kind, a style that speaks to many Rolex fans and collectors. It specifically appeals to those buyers looking for a more interesting alternative compared to the brand’s more classic designs. However, the novelty of this model comes at a price. It commands a higher premium than the original black Sub. Additionally, although it’s not a limited edition, there’s a certain belief among devotees of the model. They know it’s not a style Rolex will produce forever. Thus, they fear the brand could quietly cease production at any moment without notice or reason.

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Caitlyn is the founder of Grey Ghost, a New York City-based boutique content marketing agency with a passion for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. She believes in quality over quantity, creative thinking, and, above all, using language as powerful tool to build lasting connections.

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  • Interesting artICLE. Rolex GMT hAve doubled in price after adding an updated clasp, ceramic bezel and Isilly IMO) rolex NaMe engraving inside the bezel. Does this really double the cost From the previous $4800? NoPE! production appears to have been artificially reducEd inflating supply/demand ratio Pricing. customers are simply getting fleeced. If folks start questioning these company pRactices by voting with their wallets instead of the illusion of exclusivity prices would return to more normal levels.