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Why Pre-Owned Breguet May Be the Best Value Proposition in Luxury Watches

June 3, 2024

With retail prices on the rise, the used market offers ever more compelling value.

In the last few years alone, several luxury watch brands have drastically increased retail prices. The MSRPs of the most popular Rolex, Tudor, and Cartier models have often risen by as high as 20% in the last two years. Faced with higher price tags, many consumers have logically turned to pre-owned timepieces. Among the brands on offer, one stands out for its quality-to-price ratio.

Breguet has faltered in recent decades. Despite delivering quality comparable to prestigious maisons like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, the company has lagged far behind in brand recognition and perception. Breguet, which is known for classical, precious metal dress watches, has also suffered due to the rising popularity of luxury sports and tool watches. As the adage goes, their loss is your gain. Due to lower demand for Breguet, secondary market prices have consistently stayed well below MSRP. For that reason, pre-owned models offer astonishing value.

Impressive complications are frequently available for significantly less than their substantial MSRPs. The 7337 Moonphase, which retails for around $40,000, can be found for under $30,000. The 5287 Chronograph is similarly discounted, often by over $10,000. Unworn watches from the Tradition collection, which often feature several complications and open-worked dials, can be found for several thousand dollars off their retail prices. Simple dress watches like the 5177 and 7147 are not immune either; those that find their way to the secondary market are commonly priced several thousand dollars below retail in unworn condition.

Given the consistency and magnitude of this discounting, you might get the impression that poor quality is behind the Breguet's diminished prices. On the contrary, the company's craftsmanship rivals that of most other high-end watchmakers. A majority of Breguet dials feature a guilloché pattern. Many lower end brands will emulate this effect through stamping. Breguet does it the old-fashioned way. A highly trained artisan will use a machine called a rose engine to slowly engrave a disc with a variety of guilloché patterns. Due to the investment required to offer the technique, few watch companies can compete with Breguet in this regard.

The movements are equally impressive, offering the finishing and technology you should expect from a high-horology brand. Every movement is decorated to a high standard through the use of several techniques, including anglage, black polishing, perlage, striping, and engraving. Most use a free-sprung balance with a silicon hairspring.

Perhaps the most-often neglected element of Breguet's appeal is the company's heritage, which rivals that of most high horology brands. The brand's namesake founder, Abraham Louis Bregeut, is widely regarded as one of the most important watchmakers in the history of the trade. During his celebrated career, he invented the tourbillon, Breguet overcoil, and gong for repeater watches and made several refinements to the self-winding mechanism.

A brand with the history and technical expertise of Breguet ought to be doing far better than it is. Many successful watch brands struggle to offer the substance to back up their pompous claims of heritage and watchmaking prowess, relying solely on good marketing and tried-and-true designs to get by. Breguet suffers from the opposite problem: the brand has plenty of substance but fails to market itself well. This failure is a major windfall for the educated buyer. For the time being, few watches can rival the value offered by pre-owned Breguet.

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