Time After Time: the market power of pre-owned watches with Bucherer

Bucherer’s Pierre Hardouin talks to Tempus about our love affair with vintage timepieces and why it remains an enduring trend

Pierre Hardouin, Rolex – Certified Pre-Owned category manager at Bucherer UK

Watches have forever been paragons of style and expressions of our identity. The allure of owning an exclusive luxury product without extensive waiting times is all-too appealing for prospective buyers.

Over the past five years, the demand for the watch industry’s most iconic timepieces has increased exponentially, gaining admiration for their meticulous craftsmanship and iconic style. Laterally, watches have become an investment, commanding high premiums with the expectation that the value of certain models will continue to rise with time. Yet, timepieces are subject to a rigorous and lengthy manufacture process – a process further impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic – which is unable to meet current global demand. 

Since this surge in interest, we have seen pre-owned watches evolve into an affordable entry into luxury watch ownership evolve into an opportunity for customers to bypass demand and obtain the watches they desire. Coupled with a strong investment performance, the appetite for pre-owned watches has also inspired buyers to actively seek vintage models within a brand’s past catalogue.

As trends and style preferences continue to fluctuate, we’re seeing a pivotal shift toward smaller dress watches among young collectors. Inspired by art deco watches of the 1920s-1950s, dress watches have become an expression of quiet luxury. And these are no longer tied to the tuxedo – their subtle aesthetic and slim profile offers an unmatched versatility in today’s world.

Every vintage watch encapsulates an era of styles and attitudes – a relic of generational designs paving the way for watchmaking standards and innovations today. From quietly discontinued, unconventional creations from the 1970s, to brand-defining icons still in production today, vintage watch collecting opens up an expansive catalogue spanning decades. The sheer number of options inspires a deep-dive into rare variations in dial architecture or collectible case designs – details of which a whole collection can be built around. 

Furthermore, every vintage watch carries a story of its own beyond its mere manufacture. From military deployment, motor racing and weddings, watches accompany their owners throughout life’s most poignant moments. Every knock, ding and even dial discolouration represent a life well-lived and has become preferential to collectors as a sign of authenticity.

One memorable interaction came from a gentleman looking to upgrade his timepiece originally purchased while [he was] working in the motor racing industry in the late 1970s. The watch had accompanied him throughout the majority of his life, and was memorably worn when retrieving a racing driver from his crashed vehicle – the watch undergoing a few scrapes in the process. 

As the time came to upgrade to a newer model, the customer was staggered to learn how the value of his old watch had appreciated from the day he paid for it. The customer left with a considerable smile and a brand-new watch, having traded in his faithful companion.


Traditionally, the avenues for pre-owned watch purchasing include an element of risk. Without inspection from accredited watchmakers (a resource that not many retailers have to-hand), the end customer accepts the possibility that one of more components of their watch is not genuine.

We identified a demand among savvy consumers looking to expand their collections with rare collector’s watches from bygone eras – an infectious appetite too difficult to ignore. Collectors were looking to the past for historical designs to enhance their collections, a passion that we were eager to channel through a luxury retail experience and trusted buying process. 

And so, 2019 marked Bucherer’s bold pursuit of redefining the pre-owned watch market – a decision inspired by our customers’ growing interest in historical timepieces proportionate to the unprecedented growth of the world of pre-loved timepieces. We offer a dynamic, trusted space to buy and trade iconic timepieces.

Through our Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) initiative, all risk of unauthenticity is eliminated through our meticulous certification process, which is conducted by one of our in-house brand-accredited watchmaker. We provide a full service to every CPO watch to ensure optimum function per the watch’s original tolerance and offer a two-year guarantee. The process of certification is meticulous and multi-layered to ensure an entirely risk-free process for our customers and includes a full assessment and authenticity check, ultrasonic cleaning, diagnostic test of all functions, servicing of movement, and time regulation and water-resistance tests.


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