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A Buyer's Guide to a Pre-Owned Breitling Watch


Breitling is the kind of watch that never really loses its intrinsic value. Not all luxury watches are made equal, and some watches will get cheaper as it ages and the more it gets worn. Pricing set aside, the value of Breitling is in its quality, history, and design. These timepieces have a unique look to them, and various models are so distinctively Breitling that it’s hard to deny. The Swiss luxury watchmaker has been creating such exclusive watch designs since its founding in 1884, and many of their watches have stood the test of time and the test of evolving tastes and designs. This is the reason why Breitling watches are some of the most sought after timepieces—regardless of how costly they get. Fortunately for those who can’t or refuses to shell out $10,000 on a watch, there are options to buying and owning a Breitling. Perhaps the most popular way to own an affordable Breitling is to buy pre-owned.

Why buy pre-owned

There are many reasons why one might opt to buy pre-owned instead of new. The biggest determinant is almost always cost. The most affordable brand new Breitling watches sell for at least $2,000 and more. While these lower end Breitlings are great, they’re really not the ones you would want to add to your collection. If you opt to buy pre-owned, your range of watch options will increase dramatically when it comes to both model and price. This is possibly the best reason to buy pre-owned; you’ll get the opportunity to buy classic and/or vintage timepieces that may have had a significant history or may have been discontinued altogether.

Vintage or modern

It’s important to remember that not all pre-owned Breitling watches you buy are considered vintage. You’ll also find pre-owned watches that are quite modern in design and build. The definition of a pre-owned watch is simple: it’s a watch that has had one or more previous owners. For a watch to be considered vintage, it has to be at least 20 years old. Breitling watches that are considered vintage today couldn’t have been manufactured after the year 2000. This comprises all of Breitling’s models created from 1920 until 2000. This includes some of the brand’s best timepieces including the famous Navitimer. Any Breitling watch created after the year 2000 is considered modern, and these watches are probably not as attractive to second-hand buyers. If you happen to find a Breitling watch that was manufactured from 1884 to 1920, you’ve found a true antique Breitling—an incredibly rare find that will likely cost a fortune.

Decide what you like

It’s important that you know exactly what you’re buying. Vintage and antique Breitling watches are complicated pieces. This is why it’s so important for you to do ample research on various Breitling timepieces before you decide on what you’d like to buy. Once you’ve narrowed down the model you want to find, it’ll be easier to narrow down your search parameters. You’ll also have to decide whether you want to venture into vintage watches. Most of the time, vintage watches are display pieces—they’re not the type you’ll get to wear regularly. If you’re looking for a pre-owned Breitling watch to put on your wrist, you might consider simply buying a more modern watch. The final decision is totally up to you, but suffice it to say that you need to do your research first.

List of non-negotiables

There’s a rushed way to buying a pre-owned Breitling, and there’s also a proper way. The rushed way is exactly how it sounds—it’s quick and goes mostly by looks and feeling. You might browse for a pre-owned Breitling online; find one that appeals to you, and click the green button to buy. This type of shopping is very risky, especially since there is a lot of super fakes out there. If you want to buy a pre-owned Breitling watch properly and you’ve done your research, the next step is to create your personal list of non-negotiables. This is merely a refinement on your choice of watch. It’s looking at the minute details that really matter to you. Do you prefer leather straps or a steel bracelet? Does it matter what year the watch was manufactured? Do you prefer luminous hands or not? Which dial colors would you consider? These are just some questions that will help you get closer to finding the perfect pre-owned Breitling.


Many people forget to consider this next step. Setting a budget is possibly one of the most important factors to consider when buying a pre-owned Breitling watches. This is also true regardless of your means. Even if you can afford to buy the most expensive Breitling in the pre-owned market, it doesn’t always mean that you should. This is true because there are so many other factors to consider. Once you’ve done enough research, you should also be able to set budget parameters for a specific kind of watch. For example, if you are looking to purchase a vintage 1940s Breitling Chronomatic with all original parts and documents included, you might want to set your budget limit to $6,000. Anything over that amount might be a rip off. If the same watch didn’t come with documents of authenticity and the seller is unable to prove it either, you might consider drastically lowering your budget limit to $2,000. You might already have a spending budget. If you do, stick with it. If you have a limitless budget, you’d be better off setting one specifically for the piece of pre-owned Breitling you’re looking to purchase. It’s just important that you make sure the watch is worth it first. Know the current market value of the watch, and you should be in good hands.

Service history

Modern Breitling timepieces might not require much on this respect. If the pre-owned Breitling you’re looking at is only a couple of years old, there’s probably not much to look at when it comes to service history. Servicing luxury mechanical watches doesn’t come cheap. Most owners will keep their invoices for such transactions. If you’ve got a two-year old Breitling that has no evidence for a service, you can rightly assume that it probably didn’t get service done yet. Much older watches are a different story. They also are less likely to have service history invoices. Sellers and watchmakers have likely done service to an older Breitling they are looking to sell, so make sure to check those out before you purchase the watch—even to just check what have been done to fix it.

Box and papers

Watch packaging is sometimes just as important as the watch itself. This is especially true if the Breitling you’re considering is a vintage watch. Many of these watches are being bought for display rather than for wear. What best way is there to display a vintage watch other than on its original case? It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the original box and papers for a 50-year old Breitling, but it does happen. These are the best measures of the authenticity of a timepiece. You have to ask yourself if this is something that would make a difference for you. In some ways, having the original packaging and papers is pretty desirable and almost nostalgic. But not having them doesn’t always mean that the watch is not a good buy. If you care to have these papers for authenticity’s sake, then you might find that your buying pool just shrank by quite a bit. Otherwise, pre-owned sellers have other ways of certifying the authenticity of a Breitling.

Overall quality

Of course, no one would ever buy a Breitling watch that’s completely dented and scratched up. But we can’t promise you that sellers won’t sell less than quality pieces. There’s a subjective matter to the overall quality of a watch—what you might find high quality might not be for someone else. Still, Breitling watches are all manufactured with high standards in mind, and you should think the same. Having that in mind, you should remember that watches are meant to be worn. They’re meant to sit on a wrist rather than a shelf. Most of the pre-owned Breitling watches you’ll find in the market would have scratches and dents. Examine these closely and take them into consideration heavily. Any dent you see on the outside might have had interior repercussions. Talk to your seller about them and find out if the watch has any issues. Look for corrosion on the hands and anywhere else on the watch. These are signs that the watch might have some malfunction going on. Occasionally, we see stunning Breitling timepieces that have never seen the light of day. Although this would be a good find for you, it’s almost an unfortunate circumstance for the watch itself.


Finding a reputable seller is just as important in the process of buying a pre-owned Breitling watch. You’d want to perform the same kind of research you did on watches to the seller you want to work with. Read reviews and collect personal feedback. Check the company out on all their marketing channels. If they’re on social media, make sure you read reviews on there. If the seller has reviews on other websites, read those as well. You might be safer doing business with a brick and mortar seller, but you can find reputable sellers online as well. As long as you can see and examine the product yourself before you make the final purchase, you should be safe from getting taken advantage of.

Financing and return policies

Some bigger sellers will even give you access to financing. Financing is a useful feature for those looking to increase their buying power. Many of those looking to buy a pre-owned Breitling are likely looking to purchase a timepiece of significant value. However, not everyone might be able to afford it. Financing will give you the option to pay for a good watch on a monthly basis rather than forking out the entire amount of the watch in one go. In addition to financing, you might want to review a seller’s return policy. In short terms, make sure that a company allows returns on the watch you’re intending to purchase. This will ultimately protect you from fraudulent pieces and fraudulent sellers.

Maintenance and warranty

There are sellers that also provide maintenance services and even warranty. These are added values that could really be of significant use to you. Having a seller that also does repairs will save you time and money in the long run. At the very least, the seller should already understand the pre-owned Breitling watch that was sold to you. The seller should already know its nuances and its quirks. Although it might take you a while to find a seller as such—reputable, high quality, full-service, and so forth—your efforts in looking will be well worth it in the end.

Too good to be true

Here’s a final note of precaution and encouragement: if the sell sounds too good to be true, it’s likely that it is. Pre-owned Breitling watches come in all sizes, shapes, and qualities. Spotting a super fake Breitling is not easy to do, but it is possible. Make sure that the photos you’re seeing of the watch are pictures of the actual timepiece. Never settle for minimal evidence of the product; and as mentioned before, it’s better to examine the pre-owned Breitling in person before you make the purchase. There are plenty of stunning pre-owned Breitling watches out there, so don’t be dismayed if the watch you’ve been trying to buy turns out to be a scam or simply an unworthy buy. You’ll find another Breitling to buy soon enough.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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