Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?
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  1. #1
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    Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Hello There

    How are you all? I have a question for the forum that maybe somebody can answer.

    Do vintage pocket watches not sell? I have had a nice 1896 Waltham Model 1883 up for sale on the sales forum for several days and there has not been any interest at all on it. Zero inquires.

    The watch is in nice condition with a great condition dial and has been serviced so there is nothing a new owner needs to do except to wear/enjoy it. The watch is priced reasonably and it is a great chance to get a vintage watch for somebody's collection.(I think everybody should have at least one pocket watch) However there is no bites at all.


    do pocket watches really have no market at all?

    My reason for selling it is that I want to reduce my watch collection and in the end if it does not sell I will trade it to my watchmaker for a service on one of my other watches.

    Thanks all

  2. #2
    Member Stephen2020's Avatar
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Can you put a theme on it, to give people a reason to buy?
    I'm not into pocket watches but did buy a nice Coventry Astral because I wanted at least something from the Coventry watch industry.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Have You tried the not "USA Only" sale?
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    I think the market is pretty small. My next purchase will be a pocket watch, I would like to get a Hamilton Railroad pocket watch with a 992b movement, my great is to buy a non original, redial without knowing it...

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  5. #5
    Member Tony C.'s Avatar
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Pocket watches have a limited market. The high-end still sell well, as there is a strong, dedicated community for such watches. But mid-range and below have little value. The most obvious reason for the divergence with the vintage wristwatch market is that the latter are fashion accessories for many collectors, and pocket watches cannot provide that allure.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    My opinion, as someone who owns, buys, restores, and sells a lot of pocket watches, is that the high end of the 18-size and 16-size market is pretty robust. If it is a high-grade movement (e.g., 21+ jewels), especially collectable (e.g, Bunn Specials and 992Bs), nicely cased (e.g., glass crystal, solid gold case), or connected to a real railroad in any way, it will sell.

    But smaller watches (like 12-size and under) and mid and low grade watches (the usual 15-19 jewel watches) will sell at more modest prices. The 7 jewel watches aren't worth buying in nearly all cases.

    Some brands have huge followings (Hamilton, Illinois); others have small but devoted followings (Rockford). Elgin seems almost totally unloved, apart from some high-grade models. (Most coin and pawn shop owners find that Elgins sell for only the scrap value of the case, which is sad.) Waltham is a mixed bag. Their earlier watches attract collectors, but their watches eroded in quality and were frankly sub-par by the 1930s.

    Finally, all the pocket watch buyers are on eBay or at NAWCC marts, not on the online forums.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_S View Post
    My opinion, as someone who owns, buys, restores, and sells a lot of pocket watches, is that the high end of the 18-size and 16-size market is pretty robust. If it is a high-grade movement (e.g., 21+ jewels), especially collectable (e.g, Bunn Specials and 992Bs), nicely cased (e.g., glass crystal, solid gold case), or connected to a real railroad in any way, it will sell.

    But smaller watches (like 12-size and under) and mid and low grade watches (the usual 15-19 jewel watches) will sell at more modest prices. The 7 jewel watches aren't worth buying in nearly all cases.

    Some brands have huge followings (Hamilton, Illinois); others have small but devoted followings (Rockford). Elgin seems almost totally unloved, apart from some high-grade models. (Most coin and pawn shop owners find that Elgins sell for only the scrap value of the case, which is sad.) Waltham is a mixed bag. Their earlier watches attract collectors, but their watches eroded in quality and were frankly sub-par by the 1930s.

    Finally, all the pocket watch buyers are on eBay or at NAWCC marts, not on the online forums.
    Elgins are the Fords and Chevys of the vintage watch world. A few get a lot of attention, like the Black Knights, Futuras, or Clubmen, just as Mustangs and Thunderbirds do in the car world. But the plain vanilla Elgin and Lord Elgin models? They're like the Galaxies and Impalas - everybody's Dad had one, so they're just not special.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    There is, but it's very thin.

  9. #9
    Member bubba48's Avatar
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    Re: Is there really no market for vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony C. View Post
    Pocket watches have a limited market. The high-end still sell well, as there is a strong, dedicated community for such watches. But mid-range and below have little value. The most obvious reason for the divergence with the vintage wristwatch market is that the latter are fashion accessories for many collectors, and pocket watches cannot provide that allure.
    I completely agree; even in Italy the market is almot nonexistent

  10. #10
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    Things that go "Bump" in the night...

    I would agree with everything said on this topic and add a few more thoughts...

    Trying to sell on the sales pages of forums like this one, Timezone, and others has become ridiculous. The pages are so cluttered with repeating posts (Bump, Bump, Bump) from jewelry stores, forum members, and other folks looking to sell that in a matter of hours your post will be 3-5 pages deep. Also, I think many forum sellers may have paid retail so they always want top dollar for their watches (every watch can't cost $4000!).

    Sites like Ebay will allow you to see what kind of interest and prices your item will bring.

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