What is a refurbished watch?

A refurbished watch is a timepiece that has been inspected, repaired, and restored to a condition that closely resembles its original state or a "like-new" condition. There are several reasons why a watch may require refurbishing. If a watch is returned to the manufacturer or retailer, even if it was only briefly worn, it can sometimes undergo a refurbishment process before being offered for sale. In other cases, the watch may have been used for display purposes by a retailer or manufacturer. To ensure that the watch is in perfect condition before sale, it may then undergo refurbishment.

How are watches refurbished?

When a watch is refurbished at NOMOS Glashütte, it undergoes a full service by a skilled watchmaker, with the aim of restoring it to as close to its original condition as possible. Here are the typical steps involved in refurbishing a watch:

  • Inspection
    The watch is thoroughly examined to identify any defects or other issues. This includes assessing its external appearance, internal components, and overall functionality.
  • Servicing
    Any identified issues or defects are addressed during the refurbishment process. This may involve replacing broken or worn-out parts, fixing mechanical problems, or repairing cosmetic damage like scratches and dents.
  • Cleaning and polishing
    The watch is cleaned both externally and internally to remove any dust or other foreign particles. The case and glass, as well as the bracelet if applicable, are then polished to restore the watch's original shine.
  • Testing
    After the repairs and cleaning are completed, the watch undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that it is functioning accurately and reliably.

At NOMOS Glashütte, our watchmakers carry out a full service on every refurbished timepiece—which we also recommend for all mechanical watches every five years or so. You can learn more about our watch servicing here.

What are the differences between pre-owned, used, and refurbished watches?

When it comes to acquiring a timepiece with history, it is worth considering the differences between the terms pre-owned, used, and refurbished. Sometimes all three terms will apply to a particular watch, and other times only one or two of them.

A pre-owned watch will have at least one previous owner, often recorded in the accompanying paperwork. This says nothing about the condition of the timepiece, which could range from ‘like new’ to ‘needs repair.’ In such cases, further research into the watch’s condition will be required.

A used watch will likely show at least faint traces of wear. However, the extent of wear will vary, depending on the type and frequency of use. A dress watch kept for special occasions, for example, will likely show less wear than an everyday piece worn consistently for decades. Again, further research into the watch’s condition will be required.

A refurbished watch may also be pre-owned and/or used—but has since undergone servicing to restore it to its original condition as closely as possible. This means a full repair of the mechanical mechanism within, as well as case and glass polishing to address any cosmetic damage. This refurbishment process should be carried out by a professional watchmaker, and some refurbished timepieces will come with certification. At NOMOS Glashütte, our refurbished timepieces undergo a full servicing before they are available to purchase.

You can find the current collection of refurbished NOMOS watches—which come with the same two-year warranty as new timepieces—under "rare finds".

Buying a pre-owned or used watch

Should you buy a pre-owned or used watch?

A used watch can offer several benefits, making it an attractive option for those looking to acquire a mechanical timepiece. Here are some of the advantages of purchasing a pre-owned watch:

  • Value for money
    Used watches are typically sold at a slightly lower price than brand-new watch models. The secondary watch market allows watch enthusiasts to own timepieces they might not have been able to afford at their original retail price. As mechanical watches tend to retain their quality over time, a pre-owned one can still provide excellent craftsmanship and style for the years to come.
  • Environmentally friendly
    Buying a used watch contributes towards sustainability by extending the lifespan of an existing product, rather than increasing demand for new ones. While watch manufacturing is not a resource-intense industry, relatively speaking, a pre-owned watch will still have a lower carbon footprint.
  • Variety and rarity
    If you are looking for discontinued watch models and vintage limited editions, the secondary watch market may be the only place to find them. A pre-owned watch can add a unique touch to your wrist—and possibly come with an interesting history as well.

Despite these benefits, it is essential to exercise caution when buying a used watch. Ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable retailer and, if possible, establish whether the watch has been refurbished. This information will help you understand which condition the watch is currently in. Knowing if and how the watch has been serviced can increase the likelihood of a satisfying and reliable purchase.

Where to buy refurbished or pre-owned watches?

There are several online retailers that specialize in pre-owned timepieces, including the webstores of popular watch blogs. Furthermore, your local watch retailer or favorite watch brands may also offer a selection of used and/or refurbished watches—and that includes NOMOS Glashütte. Sourcing a refurbished watch from a trusted source will guarantee that you receive an authentic timepiece, which should serve you well and retain its value over the years.

How can I tell if a pre-owned watch is genuine?

Determining whether a previously used or pre-owned watch is genuine requires careful examination and verification. While many pre-owned watches offered for sale are genuine, there are also counterfeit watches on the market—often at incredibly low prices. Here are some steps you can take to assess the authenticity of a used watch:

  • Purchase from a reputable seller
    Choose a reputable seller to ensure a higher likelihood of receiving a genuine pre-owned watch. Ask about the watch’s history and take time to research their reviews and customer feedback, if possible.
  • Verify the retailer's credentials
    Verify the seller's credentials and expertise in dealing with luxury mechanical watches. Established retailers often have experienced watchmakers or experts who inspect and refurbish timepieces.
  • Authenticate the serial number
    Mechanical watches almost always come with a unique serial number, and many luxury watch companies have databases to check the authenticity of their timepieces. This will also help to reveal if the watch has been registered as stolen by a previous owner. NOMOS Glashütte also maintains a record of its watches and their owners. So if you already have a NOMOS watch, you can register here.
  • Look for accompanying paperwork
    Genuine watches should come with high-quality branded packaging and official documentation from the manufacturer, such as a warranty card, instruction manual, or certificate of authenticity. While it is possible that the previous owner may no longer be in possession of the accompanying documentation, we would generally advise against purchasing timepieces that do not come with relevant paperwork. Examining a pre-owned watch carefully for any signs of tampering or inconsistency, as well as the accompanying documentation, is essential to avoid counterfeit or stolen products.
  • Trust your instincts
    If something feels suspicious about a pre-owned or refurbished watch, or the price appears too good to be true, it's essential to trust your instincts and reconsider the purchase. Buying a mechanical watch, whether new or refurbished, is an investment. Take your time, do thorough research, and, if needed, seek expert advice to ensure that you are acquiring an authentic timepiece.

Refurbished watches and NOMOS Glashütte

Does NOMOS Glashütte offer refurbished watches?

Yes, occasionally we do! Our refurbished watches have usually been used internally—for example, as part of a display collection for journalists or retailers. While they have not necessarily been sold or owned yet, these NOMOS watches are not brand new. Once they have been retired from the display collection, they are then refurbished to their original condition. You can find the current collection of refurbished NOMOS watches available here.