Jacob Krol/CNN
CNN —  

Apple may have just announced two shiny new Apple Watch models, one of which — the Apple Watch SE — is priced at just $279. That’s a heck of a deal indeed. But the new watches also mean that people are going to be trading in their old devices in order to upgrade, and in turn you’ll be able to find some sweet deals on used or refurbished Apple Watches.

But shopping for used gear isn’t a straightforward process, especially for something like an Apple Watch that has to be linked to an Apple account before you can begin using it (and unlinked from an account before you can sell it).

Don’t click buy on the first good deal you see. Below we’ll walk you through what to look for when shopping for a used watch. Or, if you’re picking up the Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE, we’ll show you some reputable places where you can trade in your current watch to lessen the overall cost of the new watch.

What to look for when buying a used watch

Jacob Krol/CNN

What you need to look for when shopping for a used or refurbished Apple Watch will depend on where you buy it from. For private sales through services like a (or even Craigslist), where you are buying directly from the previous owner, you’ll want to ensure the owner of the watch has removed the watch from their Apple account, removing Apple’s anti-theft activation lock feature.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to check if a watch has been removed before you have it in your hands, but the seller should be able to provide photos (ask them to include a piece of paper with the listing number in it) to prove that the watch has been removed from their Apple account. If they’re unsure about how to do that, this Apple support page should help.

Naturally, you’ll also want to see photos of the device, confirming that the seller has accurately described any defects or issues. If a listing uses stock photos, or only has pictures with the display turned off, consider that a red flag.

Apple and Decluttr

When buying a watch from the likes of Apple or Decluttr, you shouldn’t have to worry about the device still being linked to an Apple account. Both companies refurbish the items they sell, meaning they go through a testing process to ensure the watch functions as it should and that the product description matches the condition of the product.

Both Apple and Decluttr certify that the refurbished devices they sell will work, with the latter providing a 12-month limited warranty and offering a 14-day return policy. Apple also provides a one-year warranty on its refurbished products, and goes one step further by repairing or replacing parts as it evaluates a product, bringing it to what the company calls a “like new” status before selling it as refurbished.

What about trading in your watch?

Let’s say you have a Series 2, 3, 4 or even a 5 and want to make the jump to an Apple Watch Series 6 or SE. Well, like an iPhone or a Google Pixel, you can trade in your existing Apple Watch. Trading in the smartwatch at Apple gets you store credit, and with a third-party service like Decluttr, you get cash for your watch. Either way, you can put it toward the purchase of a new Apple Watch.


Through Decluttr, trading in a 40mm Series 5 with GPS + Cellular in good condition will net you $180. Better yet, with code CNNTEN, you’ll get an extra 10% on all trade-ins. So that $180 offer turns into $198. Small in theory, but if you’re opting for an Apple Watch SE, it makes the difference just $81. Pretty solid.

Apple Store

Apple offers trade-ins through its website and all you’ll need to see your value is the serial number and condition of your Apple Watch. With this route, you get a nice chunk of store credit in the form of an Apple Gift Card.