Pre-owned Only: Six classic watches to collect

December 4, 2017

If you’re looking for a great watch with unique style, look to the pre-owned, or second-hand market. Watch manufacturers are always tweaking the features of their watch designs, leaving classics and statement-making watches like these on the shelf.

A Rolex fit for a Prince

Watches from the past can tell a unique story and set you apart from the masses. There might be a year of manufacture that has meaning to you, or just a style that speaks to you. If you’re a die-hard Rolex fan, consider this men’s 9-karat gold Rolex Prince Bracard (Ref. 971U) circa 1935 with “Rolex, Prince” on the dial, a rare find. The 971s feature a mechanical movement, 15 jewels, Arabic numerals, inner railway minute divisions, subsidiary seconds, a rectangular case with flared sides, 26 mm by 42.5 mm. The feel is definitely retro so, if you’re a chalk-striped suit kind of guy, take a look.


Corum coin watches have a sense of play

Know someone who loves a secret? A Corum 1904 $20 Coin Watch is a superb choice. Crafted in 18-karat yellow gold, the manual wind watch measures 35mm in diameter. The case is an original 22k gold 1904 U.S. gold coin and the hinged case opens to reveal the champagne colored watch dial beneath it: a dynamite blend of power and privacy.



A bold polo from the past

If you like a bold statement on the wrist but don’t want to follow the crowd, look no further than the Piaget Polo. An icon in watchmaking history, Piaget has created a host of different versions of the Polo watch and some of the earlier ones are difficult to find. These were the first watches with integrated bracelets and were weighty due to the fact that they were once only made in solid gold or platinum. A square 18-karat yellow gold Polo, with quartz movement from the 1980’s, is a real find, in no small part because the rise in gold prices drove many owners to melt. Generally these watches feature alternating satin and polished bracelet links and the pattern of the bracelet is repeated on the dial for a singular look. The crown for setting the time is on the case back so as not to disrupt the perfect square.


Older Submariners have their merits

As with all legendary watches, evolutions keep the product current. A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner from 1991, for instance, has something very different to offer than a current Submariner. Case size then was generally a little bit on the smaller side, with 38mm and 40mm being the norm instead of 42mm. Additionally, early Submariners feature enamel bezels, instead of today’s ceramic bezels. The famed Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock is a staple. If you’re going to use it for serious diving, be sure the water resistance is intact and the HEV is functional. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a Submariner 16610 and a new Submariner 116610.


Designed for a movie star

For women who like to walk on the daring side, the Cartier La Dona watch is an incredible blend of masculine and feminine inspired by the oversized custom-made bejeweled crocodile necklace, the brand made for Mexican actress Maria Felix in the early 1960’s.

Decades later, as the brand scoured its archives, it developed the La Dona de Cartier collection of watches with trapezoid shaped case and dial and a geometric bracelet made to resemble the crocodile’s skin. Accents included Roman numerals and a sapphire cabochon crown.


Stalking the original Cartier Panther

Another beloved watch in the Cartier series is the Panther, which it recently brought back after an unexplained absence. Given the current trend for bigger and bolder styles, second-hand Cartier Panther watches are slimmer and smaller alternatives. You may prefer the classic 18-karat yellow gold Cartier Panther watch with custom diamond design in a sunburst pattern on the dial.


Buying a pre-owned luxury watch wisely

The pre-owned luxury watch market is on fire, but buy wisely. For more information, read our interview with Palisade Jewelers owner and watch expert, Ron Lieberman. Whether your dream watch is a pre-owned Rolex Daytona, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, TAG Heuer, IWC or other, Ron can find what you’re looking for!