Box and Papers for a Used Watch – Should You Have Them?

By Patrick Fassler •  Updated: 05/23/22 •  7 min read

What We’ll Cover

The Debate of Box and Papers

When it comes to purchasing your first used luxury watch, many concerns are sent rushing through your head. Has the watch been serviced? If so, when and where? Is it keeping good time? Has it been over-polished? Those are the very basics of purchasing a used timepiece. But to some, there’s one question that is always up in the air – box and papers.

The debate on should a used watch include box and papers?

To some collectors, the idea of holding onto the original box and papers may seem unnecessary. After all, the important asset changing hands is the watch itself – not the box it comes in. The other side of the argument, though, argues how authentic of an experience you’re looking to get. Box and papers on a used watch can also affect your resell value.

What does ‘box and papers’ mean with watches?

To clarify, though, let’s talk about what exactly we mean by “box & papers” when discussing watches or watch collecting.

Together, they’re often referred to as “set,” “full set,” and “kit.”

Occasionally, you’ll find a set of papers with the original purchase date as well as information on the original owner and watch dealer.

The complexity of the box depends on a number of factors, but usually, special edition watches command a premium on used marketplaces when they include the original box. In regards to papers, it’s not too uncommon to see the original papers with some information missing. If the model number and serial number align, that’s what’s important. It’s OK for the original papers to not include the original dealer or original purchaser for most watches.

How to Determine if Your Watch Should Include Box & Papers

Resale

One of the largest points in favor of purchasing a watch that includes box and papers is resale value. Most buyers want the option of choosing what to do with the box and papers and usually prefer for the seller to not have made that choice for them.

Because of that, the demand on used marketplaces is much higher for those that include original box and papers than those that include just box, just papers, or neither.

In fact, according to data from Chrono24, an online watch marketplace, certain models sell for nearly 18% higher or more when they include box and papers vs without box and papers. Theoretically, then, purchasing your used watch with the full kit will help protect your investment if you choose to list/sell the watch again in the future.

Add to that, it’s also been shown that watches that include box and papers spend less time on the market, as more buyers are looking to obtain a piece as close to its original condition as possible. Most buyers on the used marketplace are looking for an example that will deliver them a like-new experience.

There are exceptions to that, though. Most watches simply don’t feature an interesting box. For example, if someone is purchasing their second OMEGA Seamaster Professional 300M, they’re less likely to care about the original box. While it is nice to have, it doesn’t necessarily add to the experience of it once the watch is thrown in a glass watch box with the rest of their collection.

The box for the standard Seamaster isn’t too desirable after you’ve had one or two, and one can be purchased on eBay for a relatively affordable price. However, this changes when you start talking about a special edition, even if it’s still an OMEGA Seamaster.

Specialty of Box & Watch

Let’s take the OMEGA Seamaster 300 M James Bond Edition (ref. # 210.22.42.20.01.004) for this example. This is essentially just a 42mm Seamaster 300 M with some fancy flairs on it. I should know. I’m a sucker for anything Bond-related and purchased #1656 of #7007 back in 2021.


The watch itself is quite special when compared to the standard Seamaster and features quite a few different tributes to 007 himself. However, one of the most interesting parts of the purchase wasn’t the watch itself but rather the experience of owning it with the original set.

Unlike most Seamaster Professional 300M models, the Limited Bond Edition came with a special edition box completely different than the standard OMEGA box. It set the entire experience apart from most other OMEGA models because of the box alone, and after all, the experience is a huge justification for spending thousands of dollars on a watch when you first start collecting.

OMEGA Seamaster 300M James Bond watch box vs standard OMEGA Seamaster Box
Left – Standard OMEGA Seamaster 300M Box | Right – 007 OMEGA Seamaster 300M Box

The same applies to the 1998 OMEGA Speedmaster Michael Schumacher Special Edition (ref. # 3510.12). When it comes to the watch, the box makes or breaks the experience. It’s an important piece of purchasing your first luxury watch. As such, I strongly believe it makes it important for your first watch to include box and papers.

Personal Preferences

To some, even a special edition box isn’t worth paying the premium of having the original box and papers included. And frankly, I don’t think that’s worth arguing against too much if that’s how one feels. A large portion of watch collectors find little to no value in box and papers, often throwing them out from not having the room to store all of the boxes over the years. It’s usually more expensive to purchase with the original set, and in most cases, a box can be purchased on eBay afterward if you change your mind.

Many could argue that a watch should be worn, not stored in a box. The experience of the packaging doesn’t add to the utility. However, I don’t think it’s quite a strong enough argument to not purchase one with its original box and papers.

Yes, you should buy a watch with box and papers.

With all that said, I firmly believe it never hurts to have the original box and papers – especially for a special/limited edition or your first watch. While it doesn’t change the utility of the watch, let’s be honest. Most people aren’t buying mechanical watches for utility anymore. We don’t buy watches to tell time. We buy watches because we love them and the experience they provide.

The box is part of the experience, and if you don’t find the need to keep it, you can list the box online and find a buyer rather quickly.

I have a couple of watches that cost me under $1k to purchase, and I kept the box for them. To me, it only adds to the experience of that watch. When I showcase parts of my collection to my friends and family, having the original box and papers adds to the experience. It showcases different ways the watch is set apart from the rest of the collection. It’s a huge part of the visual excitement and passion of watches.

No matter if it’s my 20th sub-$100 watch or another piece to my high-end collection, having the box and papers brings it all together.

Patrick Fassler

🚗 Unhealthy Car Obsession ⏱ Semi-Healthy Watch Obsession 📌 Daytona Beach, FL

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