Top 10 Most Popular Second Hand Luxury Watch Brands

The Luxury Watch Market: An Overview

The luxury watch market has exploded in recent years, with sales of high-end timepieces continuing to grow year after year. In fact, the global luxury watch market was valued at over €58 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach €91 billion by 2026.

Much of this growth is being driven by the pre-owned or secondary market. More and more consumers are opting to purchase used or vintage luxury watches rather than pay the full retail price for a brand-new model. The pre-owned luxury watch market offers access to rare, discontinued, and collectible models at more affordable prices. 

In this blog post, we will take a look at the most popular second-hand luxury watch brands that dominate the pre-owned market. Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or trade a used luxury timepiece, being familiar with the top brands and models is key.

The 5 Most Sought-After Second-Hand Luxury Watch Brands

1. Rolex

When it comes to the secondary luxury watch market, Rolex reigns supreme. This iconic Swiss watchmaker is undoubtedly the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world. Rolex timepieces are known for their precision, durability, and ability to retain value over time.

Some of the most popular Rolex models include the Submariner, GMT-Master, Daytona, Datejust, and Day-Date. Vintage Rolex watches from the 1950s through the 1970s are especially sought-after by collectors. The high demand and limited supply means that used Rolex watches often sell above their original retail prices.

Learn more about "How to Buy a Pre-Owned Rolex Watch" in the guide we wrote about.

2. Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe is another highly coveted Swiss luxury brand in the secondary watch market. The company is renowned for its intricate watch complications and exceptional craftsmanship. Patek Philippe timepieces regularly fetch eye-watering prices at auction, often breaking sale records.

The Nautilus, Calatrava, Aquanaut, and Grand Complications are some of the brand's most iconic models. Pre-owned Patek Philippe watches retain their value incredibly well and are viewed as long-term investments by many collectors. The waitlist to buy certain Patek Philippe models new can be over a decade long, further fueling demand on the pre-owned market.

3. Audemars Piguet

This luxury Swiss manufacturer has become one of the hottest pre-owned watch brands in recent years, led by its popular Royal Oak line. Launched in 1972, the Royal Oak was one of the first luxury sports watches and has gained a cult-like following. With its octagonal bezel and integrated bracelet, the Royal Oak is instantly recognizable.

Vintage Royal Oak models from the 70s and 80s have soared in value, making them a prime target for collectors. Other popularly used Audemars Piguet watches include the Royal Oak Offshore, Royal Oak Concept, and Millenary. The brand's intricate and complex watch movements also make them highly desirable on the used market.

4. Omega

Omega has long been recognized for its innovative watchmaking and ties to space exploration. As the choice of NASA and the first watch worn on the moon, Omega has a prestigious heritage that watch collectors revere. Two of the most iconic Omega models - the Seamaster and Speedmaster - are very popular in the pre-owned market.

Vintage Seamaster divers and Speedmaster Professional "Moonwatch" models are much in demand by collectors. Omega watches tend to be more accessibly priced than other luxury brands, while still retaining value. This combination makes them a great entry point into the world of luxury watch collecting. Used Omega models offer a lot of value for those looking to invest without breaking the bank.

5. Cartier

The legendary French jeweler Cartier has crafted exquisite timepieces since the early 20th century. Cartier watches are known for their elegance, panache, and excellent craftsmanship. Two of the brand's most famous watch collections also perform very well in the secondary market: the Tank and the Santos.

The Cartier Tank is one of the most recognizable watch designs ever created with its square Art Deco lines and brancards. Santos watches pay homage to aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont and feature Cartier's iconic exposed screws. Vintage models from both of these iconic Cartier collections are highly desirable for collectors. Understated elegance and timeless design ensure Cartier watches remain in demand for decades to come.

6. IWC

IWC Schaffhausen The International Watch Company, better known as IWC, is a storied Swiss watchmaker founded in 1868. IWC is acclaimed for its pilot's watches and Portuguese collection. Models like the Big Pilot, Portugieser, and Aquatimer are in high demand in the secondary market. Vintage IWC watches are also prized by collectors.

7. Breitling

Breitling is another Swiss luxury watch brand that performs very well in the second hand watch market. Founded in 1884, Breitling pioneered the chronograph and has a long aviation heritage. Pilot's watches like the Breitling Navitimer are highly in-demand vintage and used models. The Chronomat, Superocean, and Avenger also see strong demand for pre-owned. Breitling watches are known for their bold, durable designs tailored specifically for professionals.

8. Tudor

Tudor serves as Rolex's sister brand and offers timepieces at a more accessible price point. As part of the Rolex family, Tudor watches boast exceptional build quality that retains value. Vintage Tudor Submariner dive watches from the 1950s to 1970s are especially popular among collectors. Other models like the Black Bay and Pelagos also perform very well on the used market. Tudor's ability to offer pre-owned Rolex quality at a lower price point explains its rise in popularity.

9. TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer rounding out the top 10 is TAG Heuer, another storied Swiss watch brand founded in 1860. TAG Heuer has long-standing connections to motorsports and sports timing. Iconic models like the Carrera, Monaco, and Autavia have proven to be sound pre-owned investments that hold value.

10. Panerai

Panerai Founded in 1860, Panerai has become one of the most recognizable luxury sports watch brands. Panerai timepieces are inspired by the brand's history equipping the Italian Navy. The Luminor and Radiomir collections are very desirable in the secondary market. Panerai's bold, masculine aesthetic resonates with watch collectors.

Last but not least a special Mention goes to Richard Mille

A more modern luxury watch brand that is gaining a strong secondary market is Richard Mille. Founded in 1999, Richard Mille has made a name for itself crafting cutting-edge watches with unique designs and materials. Models like the RM 011, RM 012, and RM 056 are quickly rising in popularity with collectors.

Richard Mille's limited production numbers also increase demand on the pre-owned market. The brand's distinctive aesthetic and innovative approach have resonated with a new generation of watch enthusiasts. Richard Mille is definitely a pre-owned watch brand to keep an eye on in the coming years.


Factors Driving the Second-Hand Luxury Watch Market

There are several key factors fueling the incredible growth of the pre-owned or used luxury watch market:

  • Scarcity of supply - With long waitlists for the most in-demand new luxury watch models, buying second-hand is often the only way to obtain certain pieces. Limited edition models also drive up secondary market prices when demand outpaces supply.
  • Value retention - Top luxury watch brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe retain value incredibly well over decades. Certain models even appreciate in value making pre-owned watches attractive investments.
  • New demographics - Younger buyers are entering the luxury watch market and see second-hand models as more accessible. Millennials were estimated to account for 55% of the pre-owned luxury watch market in 2021.
  • Watch collecting - Collecting vintage or used luxury timepieces has increased in popularity as an alternative investment and hobby. Rare, discontinued watches command top dollar.
  • Online platforms - The internet has made buying & selling pre-owned watches or vintage watches easier than ever via online marketplaces, forums, and auction sites.

Outlook for the Second-Hand Watch Market

The future looks very bright for the pre-owned luxury watch market as demand shows no signs of slowing. By 2025, experts predict the pre-owned luxury watch market will surpass €29 billion in global sales. Brands that retain value like Rolex and Patek Philippe in particular will continue to dominate.

More collectors and first-time buyers will turn to pre-owned watches for their value, investment potential, and ability to own rare timepieces. Even economic downturns are unlikely to halt the rise of this market as consumers turn to used models when new watch prices soar. The used luxury watch market promises to remain a high-growth and high-value segment in the years ahead.


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