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Does modifying your watch affect its value?

Today more than ever, everybody wants to stand-out and many people do this through their clothing and jewellery. Because of this, watch modifications have took off big time in these recent years. Watch customisation can vary from subtle changes of the strap to extreme modifications of the whole watch. Of course everyone has their own style and taste, but this can cause issues in terms of reselling the watch. In todays blog we will discuss whether customising and modifying watches has a significant effect on their resale value.

Simple modifications – switching up the strap

One of simplest forms of customizing a watch is by changing the strap or bracelet. Whether its leather, steel, rubber, or mesh, in the brightest colours of the rainbow or plain and simple, there’s a watch strap for everyone. There are a countless number of companies who make custom watch straps, so they are fairly affordable pieces. Of course the biggest benefit of modifying your watch in this way is that it’s an easy and reversible procedure, so if you were to resell the watch, you can put the original strap/bracelet back on, so resell value wouldn’t be affected.

Moderate modifications – changing the case back or dial

If you’re looking for something a little more personal than just changing the strap, the next step up would probably be to alter the dial or case back of your watch. the possibilities really are endless when it comes to these types of mods, from skeleton case backs to dial with fun characters on.

These changes obviously take a bit more work to achieve and would more than likely have to be performed by a specialist, however these kinds of modifications are reversible if a different caseback were used, it would simply be the case of replacing the caseback with the original one. However, this would not be possible if you were to have engraved the original caseback and would most likely have affected the resale value.

Extreme modifications – changing the colour, gems, & engravings etc.

Before we get into this section it’s important to keep in mind that many luxury watch brands will void their warranty on your watch if it has been modified, and can refuse service and perform repairs on the watch. In extreme cases they can even confiscate the watch and replace the modified parts, at your expense.

For some, they’re looking for modifications which are a bit more permanent and personal. These kinds of modifications can include getting engravings, changing the colour of your watch, or having diamonds and other gems added. Engravings are a lovely way to make a watch very personal and, in my opinion, I see no problem with doing so if the watch has a lot of sentimental value and you have no desire to part with the watch. However, if you were to sell an engraved watch in the future, you would soon find out that the resale value would dramatically decrease. This is of course because engravings are very personal, so another person wouldn’t appreciate the sentimental value of it and would prefer the watch to be as it was when first purchased. It’s not all bad news though as engravings can be removed via a specialist.

Another modification which people may opt for is getting the colour of their watch changed. As you may know Rolex doesn’t actually make all-black watches, but many people love black watches as they can look really sleek and sophisticated. This problem can actually be solved through modding, as there are a few specialists who can blacken your watch using PVD or DLC. Not only can your watch be sprayed black, but almost whatever colour you want, including gold. As well as this, watches can have all sorts of patterns and images put onto its case. Of course, this is quite a dramatic change and completely alters the look of the watch so it’s understandable that this will have a big effect on resale value, but it’s not saying that there won’t be a buyer who would appreciate the modification.

And, of course, we have to mention embezzled watches as this is probably what most people think of when they hear the phrase "modified watches". For some, diamond embezzled watches seem tacky and tasteless, but for others they are a sign of wealth and luxury. I get both sides of the debate but I understand that this is something people feel very strongly about, and you can’t deny that doing something like this will dramatically affect the value of your watch. Most people think that adding precious gems to their watch will increase the value simply due to the cost of the gems, and to some extent this is true. Of course the actual intrinsic value of the watch will increase if good quality gems are used, so in this case yes, if high quality diamonds are used the value of the watch will increase. Despite this, a lot of watches which get diamonds embedded into the bezel or other parts, use diamonds which aren’t the best quality which would drastically decrease the resale value of the watch. Brands like Rolex do produce their own diamond-set watches, however they use perfect quality diamonds and are precisely placed to accentuate the watch, hence the hefty price tag. Pushing aside the monetary value and the aesthetic value which diamonds can add to a watch, personal preference plays a big role in this and it comes down to the fact that most watch collectors would much rather pay big bucks for a classic, untouched watch over a watch which has been smothered in diamonds.


So in short, yes, modifying your watch will affect its value and, more times than not, in a negative way. Watch lovers and people of the watch community appreciate watches which haven’t been tampered with much more than modded watches, as the luxury watch world and the watches its centred around are seen as highly respectable pieces which have taken upmost time and precision to create. The modified watch industry is definitely getting more and more popular, maybe because people enjoy getting a lot more creative when it comes to jewellery and fashion, viewing it as an art-form, in fact it is strangely very accepted to modify SEIKO watches, probably because their parts are readily available. In my opinion, I think modded watches are great if they hold sentimental value or you have no intention of selling the watch, but if you see your watches as more of an investment or collectable, stay clear of modifications.

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