When it comes to buying a luxury watch, buyers have a choice. They can join the waitlists and queues associated with new release watches, or they can browse the luxury second-hand market, seeking deals and great investments from past collections and opting for those pieces which command high coveted status.
But they’re not the only choices. There’s a third option available which considers those items which fall into the aftermarket category – made up of altered products and those watches which have been customised away from their original make-up in any number of ways
In this article, we’re considering the difference between factory set watches (both brand new and second-hand) and those found on the aftermarket and sharing our thoughts on which is a better investment for luxury buyers.
What is a factory-set watch?
A factory-set watch does not have to be brand new, but it does have to retain the exact specifications and finishes that it held since its creation. Any watch which has not been altered by any buyer or owner, regardless of whether it has been used or is brand new, can be considered factory set if it holds all the original features that it had when it was first released.
What is an aftermarket watch?
An aftermarket watch is one which has been altered in some way after purchase, thus changing it from its original look or function as determined by its design, make, and model with all manner of details.
These details could be aesthetic, or they could relate to the functionality and usability of the watch. What matters in this instance is that they have been altered with third-party intervention and therefore differ from the way the watch was initially manufactured and made. A popular example of an aftermarket watch is one which has been studded and inlaid with diamonds after purchase, commonly known as a buss down.
Advantages of aftermarket watches
Aftermarket watches are often regarded as more accessible luxury watches, due to the fact that they can be purchased at a cheaper rate than their untampered-with counterparts.
Buyers of aftermarket watches will often find more affordable models of the watches they covet, such as an affordable Rolex, and make customised changes to elevate the status of their pieces. In many cases, such changes will optimise the aesthetic look and presentation of the piece, transforming it into a unique, statement model. Aftermarket watches can also be created by resellers to create more desirable models from basic models, such as changing the dial colour or strap, these watches are also known as Franken watches in watch circles.
Advantages of factory set watches
When you consider brands such as Rolex and Audemars Piguet, you will see that those which sell for the highest prices at auction and on the second-hand market are those which look perfect, unused, and in top-notch condition. This immediately tells us that one of the biggest advantages of a factory set watch is the way it retains its value, meaning that when you go to sell it on or cash in your investment, the value is likely to remain unchanged (if not higher than when you purchased it).
Another advantage of factory-set watches is that they retain and hold their warranty, whereas once the watch has been studded with diamonds or altered in any way its warranty is void.
Can aftermarket watches be a worthwhile investment?
In terms of popularity and demand, aftermarket luxury watches which have been inlaid with diamonds and other details are highly sought after. They take a standard market watch and give it extra bling and added financial status – but what does it do to their value and investment potential?
Well, because these watches are highly coveted, they do sell well. There’s a specific modern culture which taps into and complements the addition of bling in such luxury watches, however, such detailing detracts from the investment value and renders the original design and warranty null and void.
What this means is that if anything goes wrong in the future and once your watch has been tampered with by aftermarket design additions, it is no longer considered a branded watch and so the original brand and manufacturer will not support you with aftercare or support. Not to mention, the quality of the features added to an aftermarket watch is not guaranteed, and you may not be able to assure or ascertain the exact quality of those features, or how well they were fitted.
In short, an aftermarket watch cannot be sold or auctioned in the future as an original – rather it takes on the status of a custom-finished watch which boasts extravagant finishes and tailored features but is not on par with an original luxury watch on the market.
Should I invest in factory-set watches instead?
This depends on what you are looking for, however, in most cases a factory set watch affords the warranty and direct link back to the original designer and maker which renders it a surefire win as an investment piece. Rolex and Audemars Piguet watches garner huge interest in the second-hand as well as the brand new market, but any that have been altered or tampered with outside of the manufacturer’s workshop will lose their authenticity and the assurance that comes with their warranty.
If you’re going to spend thousands or upwards on a watch or luxury accessory, knowing the reason for buying and what you are looking for is key. Those buying for an investment and with the intention of reselling the piece at a later date are best going for a factory set watch, whereas those seeking a specific look or statement who want to keep and wear the watch may find exactly what they want on the aftermarket.
Here at Love Luxury, we stock watches from both markets and can offer advice as well as support in pairing you with the luxury watch to suit your lifestyle and your preferences – as well as your budget.