Fratello Classics: 5 Interesting Pre-Owned Watches Under $4,000

Rolex Datejust, Reference 16200I wrote a Fratello Friday article on the things you need to consider when buying a pre-owned or vintage timepiece. I suggest that if you are not familiar with buying pre-owned watches, you read that article first to familiarize with the things you need to consider before buying a pre-owned watch… which is the subject of this week’s Fratello Friday.

As with pre-owned cars, some of the watches out there are very much worth buying even if they are slightly used. Unfortunately for some brands (or owners), watches can depreciate quite a bit. The opposite can also be true, though: a pre-owned watch can be nearly as expensive as a new one. In that case, you should consider whether it even makes sense to buy a pre-owned watch if it is not some kind of rare, collectible, limited edition of some kind. Basically, there are two reasons to buy a relatively young, pre-owned watch. One of them the most important, is the price. Why not let someone else take the hit on a brand-new watch? Secondly, the watch might be some kind of exceptional model that is either out of stock or hard to get new. Below, I showcase five interesting watches that can be had (pre-owned) for under $4,000. To arrive at this list, I studied the various online markets for pre-owned watches, as well as sales forums and online dealers. Also, I excluded all “vintage” watches, defined here as anything 25 years old or older.

1. Rolex Datejust, Reference 16200

Perhaps it’s less exciting than the others, but this Rolex is the mother of all modern wristwatches, as far as I am concerned. While the case is only 36 mm, you can’t go wrong with this all-time classic. Any configuration will do, but I prefer a silver dial with Roman numerals. (Photo courtesy of HQ Milton.)

Rolex Datejust, Reference 16200


2. Girard-Perregaux Ferrari Chronograph, Reference 8020

Thanks to the pre-owned market, you could own this true manufacture timepiece made in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. These Girard-Perregaux Ferrari watches come in several combinations (stainless-steel bracelet, leather strap, various dial colors). I’d opt for the black-dial version with a nice leather strap.

irard-Perregaux Ferrari Chronograph, Reference 8020

3. Cartier Santos 100 XL

Cartier introduced this watch in 2004 and based it on the very first wristwatch made by Cartier in 1904. Cartier can do no wrong when it comes to design: this has a wonderful large case with a perfectly designed dial. The movement inside this watch is a modified ETA caliber 2892-A2, considered to be a strong performer. On an alligator strap, please. (Photo coutersy of 1stDibs.)

Cartier Santos 100 XL


4. Linde Werdelin One

I had to search a bit for this one, but I found a pre-owned Linde Werdelin timepiece under $4,000. This company, with Danish roots and a headquarters in London, makes state-of-the-art sports watches. The Linde Werdelin One was its first step into the world of horology and I consider it to be a modern interpretation of Gérald Genta’s classic watch designs. (Photo courtesy of TotallyWorthIt.)

Linde Werdelin One

5. Sinn 142 D1

Admittedly, this is one you’d have to search for a bit, but I consider it to be a very interesting timepiece, perhaps even a collector’s item. This small watch manufacturer from Germany still has this reference (142) in production, but only in the Mark 2 version. The previous models – original Reference 142 – have Lemania 5100 chronograph movements. Try to get one of the special editions that Sinn made to commemorate the D1 space mission or the GSG9 (German special forces) edition. (Photo courtesy of diveluvR® blog.)

Sinn 142 D1 divers watch

What kind of watch would you seek out in the pre-owned market if you had a budget of $4,000? Or would you never buy pre-owned? Let us know your comments.


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  1. Aaron Hutchinson

    I like the GP Ferrari on that list. Totally underrated auto chrono in my opinion. I would also add an IWC Portofino 3565 to that list. They can be found well under $4k and who doesn’t love the simplicity. I also think with a little searching you could find a nice Panerai for that price, maybe a PAM000 our a PAM114.

  2. i got a jlc diving with full box and papers for 2150 euros last month. So stoked, one of the most comfortable watches i’ve ever worn.

  3. Overload in CO

    Throwing a bit of a curve, I’d pick the Seiko SBDX001 Marine Master. I’ve followed used prices climbing over the last few years. It’s a classic design; a tough tool watch that will keep it’s value.
    I believe Seiko is an underrated watch brand considering their all in-house manufacture movements. The low entry price for a Sekio 5, or any of their quartz line sours the brand with many collectors. It’s like, who’d pay $100,000 for a Volkswagen?

    • Say what you will about a Seiko 5 but for someone who has to get his hands dirty at work occasionally its a good watch. Its been taking a lot of punishment and still looks in decent shape. Its no chronometer but for the price I like it.

      Of course Seiko makes some good pieces, maybe I will own one someday. For me you can get a decent Omega speedmaster professional for under $4000. An iconic piece I picked a 1969 cal 861 one up for a bit over $3000 USD with original warranty card. Can’t go wrong with a speedmaster Id say.

  4. Christiaan

    If you look hard enough you can find a Rolex GMT or Sub for under $4k or (and I’m surprised you didn’t mention this) an Omega Speedmaster Moon.

    • Not sure if it is still possible to get a decent Sub or GMT for that money, but perhaps if you have some (a lot of) luck!

      The Speedmaster Pro would have been a bit too obvious :) To make up for this, I will do a Top 5 Speedmaster models next week.

  5. The Sinn watch , at the nine o’clock position, what are those small indicator hands for ?

    • Hi Peter,

      What do you mean? There are no hands on 9 o’clock, it is an image of the Space Shuttle (D1) mission (1985 I believe). Do you mean the small indicator at 12 o’clock? That’s the 25 hour indicator. The lower counter, at 6 o’clock shows the chronograph hours. The chronograph second and minute hands are centralized on this watch, that makes it a typical Lemania 5100 movement lay-out dial.

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