When purchasing a pre-owned watch, an important factor considered by buyers and collectors, apart from price and authenticity, is the presence of the watch box and papers. That is, if the watch comes with its original box, certificates, and factory paperwork.
Most pre-owned watch retailers include this detail in their listings, a sign that it is of importance to many buyers – but why is that exactly?
Let’s dig deeper on why watch box and papers matter and when you should go ahead and buy the watch, even without these inclusions.
What are included in watch Box and Papers?
Accompaniments of a “full set” timepiece will vary depending on the brand, but the basic inclusions are as follows:
This is basically the box that the watch came in. Depending on the brand, this could be made of leather or cardboard. Most brands offer an outer box, a presentation box – usually lined with leather, that may also include a travel case. Note that one can buy these replacement boxes from authorized dealers, with prices ranging from $250 to over a thousand.
Again, depending on the brand, these may include any of the following: the user manual, Certificate of Authenticity, Certificate of Origin, and warranty card.
For certain brands like Patek Philippe, you can also order archive papers of the watch after the sale. With these in your possession, you can find out details such as its date of production and original date of sale.
Some additional items you may find when buying a “full set” pre-owned watch are the original purchase receipt and service history records.
Together, these form the entirety of the “package” you are buying. When purchasing a pre-owned watch, there may be instances where these are all available, and some cases where only some of the contents come with the watch. Basically, you can get:
the watch only
the watch with its original papers
the watch with its original box
the watch with its original box and papers (a complete set)
While these items help confirm the provenance of the timepiece, they don’t necessarily guarantee that a watch is real or authentic. They are not legal documentation and are not required when selling a watch or transferring ownership.
What they do tell you is that the watch was cared for. Someone who keeps the original packaging of the watch, and any other accessories that came with the original purchase, is likely an owner who was detailed enough to keep the watch maintained and cleaned regularly.
Do Watch Box and Papers matter?
There are several factors to consider when weighing the value of the box and papers in your purchase of a pre-owned timepiece. In general, they do have an impact on the price and desirability of the watch being sold.
A watch that comes with its original box and papers will cost more than the same model being sold without these inclusions. If you have your eyes set on a watch and would like a better deal, you can opt for a watch without its box and papers that is still in good condition.
Popular watches – such as the Rolex Daytona 116500 or the Rolex Submariner 16610 – are well known in the watch community for consistent demand and holding their value, so in many cases, these watches still have their box and papers intact.
With its original box and papers, a watch is deemed a complete set, making them greatly coveted by collectors and buyers due to their enhanced value and appeal. Collectors actively seek out watches with all the original accessories and documents to augment the overall completeness and value of their collections. As previously explained, watches with their box and papers tend to cost more, and the additional cost reflects the increased desirability and worth attached to possessing the watch with its original box and papers.
If you are weighing whether you should go for a watch with its box and papers, or just buying the watch itself, other factors come into play:
Do you plan to sell the watch in the future?
When the time comes to sell your watch, the completeness of the package can add a premium to your timepiece. Depending on the brand and model, one can estimate that the watch can increase in selling price by at least $250 with the box and papers intact.
Moreover, boxes that accompany vintage and rare timepieces can even add much more value.
If you are also planning to sell your watch directly to a buyer, having the watch box and papers intact can help you sell the watch quickly, as most buyers take it as a sign that the watch is authentic and in good condition.
If you are sure that you will keep the watch and not sell it in the future, then you may be able to get a better price on a watch that is without the accoutrements.
Are you buying a vintage watch?
One should also consider the age of the watch. Decades ago, people bought watches to pass them down to generations; and the pre-owned watch market was not around yet. Thus, the likelihood that the owner kept the box and paper work is slim, but not impossible.
Should I buy a watch without its Box and Papers?
Watch box and peprs do positively impact its resale value and desirability, and help confirm their history and provenance, but box and papers do not guarantee that a watch is authentic. Your best defense against buying a counterfeit luxury watch is to avoid purchasing it privately, and instead go to a reputable dealer, such as SwissWatchExpo, who can back their products with an authenticity guarantee and warranty.
While box and papers can significantly boost the value and appeal of a watch, it’s important to recognize that they should not be the sole determining factor for your purchase. The desirability and market value of a watch are also influenced by other factors, such as its brand, model or reference, condition, rarity, and complications or functions it possesses.
There’s no definitive answer as to whether one should buy a watch with box and papers – it all comes down to one’s personal preferences. With this guide, we hope to have helped you make an informed decision when buying your next watch.