Whether you’re a seasoned buyer or just starting out your watch journey, you’d have thought of getting a pre-owned/pre-loved/second-hand luxury watch. Here’s a simple guide to buying one in Singapore.
What’s your budget?
Let’s first define what is a luxury watch. In my opinion, any timepiece that’s above S$1,000 should be considered a luxury. This means we’re looking at a range of watches starting from high-end Seiko Prospex.
Before you begin the hunt, think about the amount of money you’re willing to part with. It’s best to bracket your budget before looking at the brands. My personal preference is based on:
- 1st Tier: S$1,000 to S$3,000
- 2nd Tier: S$3,000 to S$5,000
- 3rd Tier: S$5,000 to S$10,000
- 4th Tier: S$10,000 to S$20,000
- 5th Tier: S$20,000 and beyond
Each tier will allow you to have a broad selection of brands and watch styles. Once you’ve determined your budget, it’s time to start narrowing down the list.
Which brands are you looking for?
Let’s be realistic here. It’s impossible to find a modern Rolex with a 2nd tier budget unless you can find a time machine and travel back to 2015. If you’re buying a watch with investment as the top priority, you’re simply wasting your time and money. There are better investment options out there.
Rule of thumb: You should buy what you like and not be swayed by the market or what your friend, family or enemy tells you. Don’t be pressured into buying a watch you don’t like because people are saying that its value will increase. Remember, you’re buying a watch to satisfying yourself, not for the pleasure of others.
Now, based on the tiered budget, you can more or less place some brand names under each category. We’ll list mainstream watch brands by entry point and in alphabetical order, not by brand prestige. Keep in mind, some of these brands have watches ranging across all tiers.
- 1st Tier (S$1,000 to S$3,000): Ball, Baume & Mercier, Bell & Ross, Frederique Constant, Hamilton, Longines, Maurice Lacroix, Montblanc, Oris, Seiko, Sinn and Tag Heuer
- 2nd Tier (S$3000 to S$5,000): Breitling, Chopard, Corum, Grand Seiko, Tudor and Omega
- 3rd Tier (S$5,000 to S$10,000): Cartier, Franck Muller, Girard Perregaux, Glashutte Original, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Rolex, Ulysse Nardin and Zenith
- 4th Tier (S$10,000 to S$20,000): Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Blancpain, H Moser & Cie, Jaquet Droz, Roger Dubois and Vacheron Constantin
- 5th Tier (S$20,000 and beyond): A. Lange & Sohne, FP Journe, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille; and you can buy whatever you want
Where to find them and how to buy?
Watch forums used to be popular avenues for people to buy and sell watches in Singapore. It’s without a doubt that Carousell has now become the best platform to find pre-owned luxury watches. Another popular way to find them is on private Facebook groups such as SG Buy/Sell/Trade Luxury Watches or SG Watch Trade.
When buying from a private seller, it is absolutely important to ensure that you’re comfortable with the seller before meeting up. Try to build rapport with the seller and understand the history of the watch you’re interested in. Get a few good photos of it and ask smart questions like:
- When’s the watch dated? Is it still under warranty?
- Was it purchased locally from an authorised dealer?
- Has it been serviced? Do you have the service chit?
- Are you the first owner?
If you’re a first time buyer, do ensure you check on the seller’s profile and bring along a friend who is familiar with the watch brand for viewing. It would be ideal to buy a watch in full set with box and papers. All details such as the reference number and serial number will be available for verification. Still, practise caution as there are now many replicas coming in full set too.
Do your research before meeting up like understanding the reference number, production period, location of the serial number on the watch and have a photo ready for reference.
Before buying, you may request for the watch to be verified for authenticity by an authorised service centre or certified watchmaker at your own cost. Remember, there’s also some risk involved on the seller’s end. We don’t want to end up in a scenario like this.
Singapore has a thriving market of pre-owned dealers and grey dealers. Most of these dealers have a physical shop and possess an inventory of watches at varied price points.
The benefit of buying from a shop is having a peace of mind. These people are business owners who take their reputation very seriously and wouldn’t risk selling you a fake watch. Many of these owners are also watch collectors and enthusiasts with many years of experience.
I personally had good experience purchasing from a few shops which I will recommend. You can also find their full list of watches on Carousell.
Chuan Watch 390 Victoria St, #01-51/52 Golden Landmark Shopping Complex, Singapore 188061
Chuan Watch was opened in 1995 by Mr. Henry Lim, an ex-technician from Rolex with over 15 years of experience. The shop specialises in the buy, sell, trade, service, polish and restoration of luxury timepieces. It has a rich selection of Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Patek Philippe amongst other brands.
Payment mode: Cash, NETS, Bank Transfer, Cheque, Credit Card (including instalment 6/12 months with DBS, POSB or Citibank)
Brightime by Championtime 180 Bencoolen St, #01-70/71 The Bencoolen, Singapore 189646 and Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238863
Brightime by Championtime has two outlets in Singapore. It offers a huge selection of watches such as Audemars Piguet, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Panerai, IWC, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Franck Muller, Cartier, Chopard & many more. Established in 1994, Brightime offers a full range of services including buying, selling, repairing, service and polishing.
Payment mode: Cash, NETS, Bank Transfer, Cheque, Credit Card (including instalment 6/12 months with DBS, POSB, UOB, OCBC & Standard Chartered and 24 months with UOB)
Monster Time 14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #02-22, 228213
Monster Time has a good range of collectible vintage Rolex sports watches and is experienced in dealing with brands like Patek Philippe, Panerai, Cartier and Omega. Since its opening in 1996, Monster Time has sold thousands of watches to many faithful customers who continue to buy and sell through them.
Payment mode: Cash, NETS, Bank Transfer, Cheque, Credit Card (including instalment 6/12 months with OCBC or Citibank and 6/12/24/36/50 months with Maybank)
While this article serves as a general guide, it shouldn’t be taken as commandments. It is important to enjoy the experience in searching and purchasing a pre-owned watch. You will soon realise that the buying journey is actually much more fun than the ownership.