Are The Box And Papers Really That Important?

Are The Box And Papers Really That Important?

When a luxury timepiece is initially purchased it will come in a presentation box with the original supporting paperwork and an instructional booklet. When buying a pre-owned timepiece, these items may not be included for various reasons.

A common question amongst many newbies in the market for a pre-owned timepiece is, “Does it come with box and papers?”. The hesitation behind this question leads to the perception that the watch might not be authentic if they are not included, thus steer an individual away. A better question to consider would be, “Are the boxes and papers that important?”. The straightforward answer to this question is that while they definitely add value to the timepiece, they aren’t necessary.


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Box, Booklets And Papers Broken Down


In the luxury watch market, a timepiece will either come as a “full set” or “naked”. When purchasing a watch that is considered a full set, you are getting a timepiece with the box and papers. A watch that comes naked will not include the box and papers.



The box of a luxury watch may include an outer box (some of which are very high-quality woods or metals), an inner box, and a travel case (Breitling comes in a small leather case that’s very convenient for storing your watch on the go). Not all brands will offer a multitude of boxes. Regarding authenticating a luxury watch, the box would be of least importance because they can be purchased separately if they are missing or damaged. Replacement boxes for brands like Rolex, Panerai, Breitling, Omega, Cartier, etc. can range between $100-$250. Higher end boxes made of treated woods and more durable materials from brands such as Hublot, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, etc. can costs upwards of $1500 or more.



The booklets of a luxury watch are just your general user guide and instruction manual for the timepiece. Again, booklets like boxes can be replaced without any trace of differing from the original.



The papers of a luxury watch are referring to the warranty card and the certificate that has the serial number stamped on it. Some timepieces will have printed warranty cards and others may have digital warranty cards. The main purpose of the papers is to provide provenance and allow for a complete package. Provenance means the origination of where the timepiece was purchased. In terms of authenticating a luxury timepiece, the papers are of most importance. If a box is advertised with papers, check to see that the serial number stamped/printed matches the one on the watch.


Reasons The Box And Papers May Not Be Included


Bear in mind that while essentially everyone wears a watch, not everyone is a collector or an enthusiast. This means that not everyone cares about the box and papers and may have misplaced or thrown them away before selling or trading their watch.

In certain cases, watch dealers who have a large inventory of timepieces will not even take the box in when they do a trade. It causes a huge inconvenience when they are stuck digging through a mass of boxes for the correct set when they have a customer waiting. Also, some of the boxes are grimy, damaged, or even have a distasteful smell from the previous owner- so in this case it is better for the dealer to sell the watch without the nastiness.

Below are several more reasons a pre-owned watch may not come with the box and papers:

  • The original owner traded this watch in towards a new purchase while out shopping unexpectedly and never went back and returned the box and papers to the jeweler later on


  • The box and papers were lost or misplaced


  • The watch is vintage and has been passed down or picked up at an estate sale


  • The box and papers may have been destroyed or damaged during a move, etc.


  • The watch has been sold or traded several times


  • The box and papers are still in the closet or attic of the original owner who forgot they were there


  • The watch was a corporate gift in which case the warranty information was made out to the company that purchased the watch and they didn’t give it to the employee who was awarded the watch


  • The watch was purchased overseas and the owner left the box behind to avoid issues at customs


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Should I Buy A Watch Without Box And Papers?


Overall, the box and papers do not indicate a watch is authentic. The watch being real is what’s important. Keep in mind, pre-owned watches without the box and papers should be priced to reflect what’s included or missing. With that being said, you can get a better deal on a timepiece when purchasing naked.

Now, anybody looking to make an investment in a luxury timepiece should decide the reasoning for their purchase. The box and papers will add value in the minds of collectors who are not looking to just purchase a watch to wear on their wrist.

So, do you want to become a collector, or do you just want a nice watch for a decent price? Answering this question for yourself will make all the difference in determining if the box and papers are an important addition to your purchase.



To sum it all up, you should never make a decision on a watch based on box and papers alone. While these items add value, especially in the minds of collectors and watch enthusiasts, they are not a necessary addition.


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