How to Buy a Used Boys Watch

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How to Buy a Used Boys' Watch

Since digital watches in particular can be bought new very cheaply and because clocks and timers are built into all kinds of common portable devices, such as mobile phones, people looking for a used boys' watch on eBay probably does not have the idea of a low price prominent among their criteria.

Children learn to tell the time around the age of seven or eight. It can do no harm to buy a watch for a child younger than that, but seven is a good age to start with. For interest-related designs, it is worth making a divide between primary and secondary aged children, and again distinguishing between younger teens and young adults. Beside the interest-related concept, there are two other perspectives that bear on used boys' watches. One is dress watches, ones for a special occasion. The other is really an adult perspective: boys' watches as collectors' items. The following tips look at the formal and recreational contexts that relate to the different age groups to help buyers find a used boy's watch.

Anatomy of a Watch

For most people, a watch is a miniature clock that is designed to be worn on the wrist. There are two other major types: pocket watches and brooch watches. Nurses wear the latter, which has an upside-down clock face. These types, though, are not suitable for children except in game-playing scenarios.

Traditional watches are clockwork and need to be wound up regularly. Self-winding types were popular for a while, but for a long time battery power has taken over the watch spring as the energy source for driving the mechanism. Since the 1980s, this type of watch has become known as "analogue" since a new breed of digital watch has become predominant. Digital watches, of course, are microprocessor based rather than mechanical, and it is very cheap to incorporate features that were previously the mark of a premium watch, such as timers and time zone conversion. Normally, the watch face is mounted in a case that can be detached from the strap it is supplied with so that another can be fitted in the event of size issues or in case the old one becomes worn or damaged.

What Makes Boys' Watches Distinctive?

When looking at a "boys" watch next to a "girls" watch, it becomes evident that designers believe that boys prefer bold and chunky designs on the whole and that girls prefer a light and elegant look. With designs that are intended to appeal to the child's interests, frequent themes in boys' watches are military and scientific, sometimes combined with an outer-space motif. For older boys, a fascination with gadgetry is often presumed, and watches might be equipped with secondary displays for timing or a rotating bezel.

Design Aspects to Consider

Learning to tell the time is one of those childhood rites of passage, along with learning to tie shoelaces and learning to write and count. Traditionally, the skill that needed to be learned was to correlate the way the clock hands are pointing with the numbers on the clock face. For many people, that remains the essence of "telling the time", so a gift intended to stimulate this skill should have hands in the orthodox manner.

Digital Watches

Nowadays, though, digital clocks and watches can express the time simply and directly through a display of numbers. Telling the time then becomes a matter of correlating numbers with the time of day. If instilling a sense of punctuality is the goal, perhaps a digital watch is the more effective option.

Two Major Factors

Aside from the bare question of function, the main questions about design are twofold. On one side there is the array of watches manufactured with the intention of appealing to a boy's particular interests. It might be themed according to a popular film or television series, for example, or else be inscribed with signs relevant to certain pursuits such as membership of the boy scouts. For older boys, the other aspect of design that enters the picture concerns formal dress, whether it is a watch that is appropriate for wearing to school, or else intended to be worn at some special occasion such as a wedding.

Boys' Watches by Age Group

These age groups are intended more as a general guide to the kind of interest-related designs that might appeal to a particular child, rather than representing the watch industry's standard definitions. Some vendors do specify an age range for certain designs, but buying a used boys' watch on eBay requires a bit of skill and judgement on the matter.

Aged 7 to 11

For younger boys, the accent is on fun, creativity, and adventure. Modern materials make it possible to implement bold and eye-catching designs, and there are some intriguing crossovers in the market. For instance there is a Lego Star Wars watch, which taps into both the media awareness of the owner and their appetite for tactile exploration. They can be picked up in the second-hand market, but it takes a keen eye to spot the opportunity when it arises. Dress watches are not so common in sizes that are suitable for boys of this age, so a similar cautionary applies for someone hoping to pick one up second-hand.

Aged 11 to 15

For boys in their early teens, the accent is on action. Even if that is a bit of a cliché about boys and their interests, it is certainly one that focuses the attention of the watch manufacturing industry. Quiet boys and artistic boys have to make do with simpler designs, while their boisterous fellows enjoy rugged adventure-themed watches. This is the age when more formal designs become appropriate for school wear, so there is scope for a boy to be satisfied with something simple and functional if the gift-giver does not have a specific insight into the recipient's interests.

Aged 15 and Up

As boys approach adulthood, they are more focused on career options and have very likely settled into focused recreational pursuits. Some of these, such as sports activities, may suit certain styles of watch. These might not, though, be designated specifically as boys' watches.

Age Chart

To round things up, we can summarise the picture for appropriate kinds of watches to various boys' ages with a chart. One star means less interesting, and three stars means more interesting:


Activity oriented


< 11



11 to 15



15 <



It should be stressed that the claim that activity oriented watches are more interesting than dress watches depends on the right activity being selected for the boy in question. Also, the older boys get, the more likely they are to possess alternative means of keeping track of time, such as mobile phones and portable computers. However, there are always times when a watch is a useful thing to have to hand.

Boys' Watches As Collectors' Items

When it comes to collectors and their interests, there are other criteria to bear in mind. It might not be necessary, for instance, that a watch be in working order, although no doubt that would have some impact on price. Since activity-related designs are by no means a recent innovation, there are many old watches with designs that might now seem quaint and therefore attractive to a collector. In the early days of space flight, for example, there were boys' watches that had a transparent disc with a miniature spacecraft printed on it, which rotated to perform the function of a second hand.

A separate line of interest might be focused on the craftsman quality products associated with famous brands, such as Rolex or Tissot. In this instance, "used" is a filtering term that distinguishes items from new ones and can stand in for other terms, such as "vintage", "antique", and so on.

Buying Used Boys' Watches on eBay

Perhaps vintage watches of the type that collectors are interested in are the easiest to find on eBay because this is a kind of buyer who has always found eBay attractive. For instance, somebody who is looking for a boys' scout watch can type "scout watch" into the search window on eBay's home page and expect to see a listing of relevant options. All the same, the more antique end of the used watch market still favours adult items and women's watches in particular.

For people looking for a gift, the task is in one sense easier, but in others a bit more difficult. It is easy if price is the prime criterion, because there are plenty of new items at low prices, and an initial search for "boys watch" delivers a vast number of general results. From there, buyers have the option of using filters to narrow the search down. As well as refining your search using criteria such as the watch body material or strap material, display type, and so on, the filter for new or used items quickly discards unwanted results.


For many boys getting their first watch is a proud moment and a sign of growing up, while gift givers know that there are so many ways in which a watch is an invaluable part of children's fashion. The main things to consider are the boy's age and the purpose of the watch. Of course, a boy's imagination running wild thanks to a well-chosen design does not really count as a "purpose" exactly, but such a gift may earn the recipient's gratitude. For a collector, a different set of criteria apply. The idea of value here may attach to the craft skill that went into making the watch or it may have to do with its place in a particular cultural context.

On eBay, there are plenty of specialist vendors dealing both with watches for conventional wearing, and with collectors' items, and besides those, there are always the individual sellers with bargains to offer. Whatever the reason for seeking a used boys' watch, eBay is the ideal place to begin the search.

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