Tips on buying a vintage watch
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  1. #1
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    Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Hi all! I'm in the market of buying a new???(old) vintage watch, thing is I don't know anything about this subject. Can anyone post tips on what to look for when looking at vintage watches and how to determine if the quality of the finishing and/or materials is still good? Thought this might be good for other newbies too,Thanks guys
    my collection...thus far

    omega speedmaster date
    tag heuer classic quartz 2000 series
    technomarine alpha
    Tissot Le Locle
    Debaufre GMT-2

  2. #2
    Moderator Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Quote Originally Posted by odin426 View Post
    Hi all! I'm in the market of buying a new???(old) vintage watch, thing is I don't know anything about this subject. Can anyone post tips on what to look for when looking at vintage watches and how to determine if the quality of the finishing and/or materials is still good? Thought this might be good for other newbies too,Thanks guys
    Good question!

    You have to decide, in general, what you want. But don't be too specific as the market at any given time can have good values or overpriced relics. So have flexibility and look for a watch that has a good price point. To do this you have to look around for a while so you have some idea what is a value and what isn't.

    Buy the vendor was much as you buy the watch... a bad vendor can sell you problems and you often can not trust what they say. Look at their feedback. Ask folks if they have any experience. This means you probably won't be buying from non-established vendors until you get confident in your own judgments.

    Read the descriptions carefully. Get to know terminology. Look at the pictures. If there are not good pictures, be careful.

    For gold plated watches, check the lugs to make sure the plating has not worn through. Look for scratches - some level is normal but the worse the watch looks, the less you should probably pay.

    Check the bracelet and make sure it is large enough to fit. For straps, assume you will have to replace it. Even the best vendors will place new but maybe cheap straps on their watches. You might want better. Or you might want a different style or color... these are usually very personal choices and you will want to make your own.

    Check the movement. Avoid movements that look dirty... it's a sign of intrusion of dust and water and those can cause great problems.

    The dials of older watches can develop a patina similar to that which develops on furniture... don't expect perfection or a completely like new look unless you are willing to pay for it. Or confine yourself to watches that aren't more than 20-30 years old. Those watches should have dials that look new.

    Personally I don't worry if the crown doesn't have an original makers mark... crowns often have to be replaced to assure water resistance and it can be a sign previous owners cared enough to maintain the watch.

    Remember almost any crystal can be replaced. Don't worry too much if you see scratches unless you are looking for a 'modern vintage'. And most watch crystal scratches can be polished out... This is something I usually do myself as it bonds me with the watch but you might want to collect a while before you start trying it.

    Be careful if the watch/price looks too good to be true... it probably is.

    Make sure the vendor states the watch is working well and will allow returns if not satisfied. Buying a watch and then having to fix it is not a good situation unless it something you just have to have to fill a hole in your collection.

    Look around and enjoy the vast variety of excellent vintage values that are around today. A dollar (or whatever) will go two to twenty times further in the vintage market than in the new market... I have some beautiful vintage watches that I never could have afforded if I had bought them new. And relative to most technologies, watches have not changed greatly -- a fifty year old Hamilton can keep as good time as a new Hamilton.

    If you catch the vintage bug, find a good watchmaker you can trust. You will almost certainly want to have your mechanicals serviced before you wear them and your watchmaker can provide some good feedback on what you have been bringing in... Sometimes their taste doesn't match yours but that's ok.

    Hope that helps... I'm sure others will add their advice and comments.

    To close, have fun. Vintage watches can be a great source of pleasure.
    Megalo Milo and opoya84 like this.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  3. #3
    Member pacifichrono's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    I think this subject has been addressed in the Vintage forum more than once in the past. Perhaps a Sticky is in order.

    I've bought (and sold) well over 100 vintage watches in the past two years, almost all off eBay. That said, here are a few thoughts that pop into my aging head late this Tuesday night.
    • Read Ray MacDonald's Sticky: "7 Rules to Determine the Value of Your Vintage Watch."
    • Mind your budget; do a little wading before you try swimming in the vintage waters. In other words, start out with affordable mainstream brands before trying something a bit "rare." It's easy to get burned by paying too much when you're not sure exactly what you're doing.
    • Make sure the watch you buy is GENUINE. Carefully check it for correct signing on the dial, crown, movement, and both sides of the case back (on some). If you're not convinced it's genuine, pass it by. When in doubt, ask your fellow forum members for assistance by posting photos of the watch you are considering (don't overdo this option, though!).
    • Check out the watch in vintage watch books. Cooksey Shugart's "Complete Price Guide to Watches" is an invaluable reference work. Certain brands also have books that offer great insights.
    • Google the watch you are considering to see what others look like (for comparison) and for how much they are selling.
    • Check recent sale prices in the "Completed listings" of eBay - - only consider actual sales, not expired listings with no sale.
    • Never bid on an eBay vintage watch until the final ten seconds or less. Earlier bidding only serves to fuel other bidding and a price run-up. If you buy vintage watches frequently, you should use a bid sniping service - - they are invaluable in placing exactly the bid you want at exactly the right moment, even if you're asleep, in a business meeting, or whatever. I have used eSnipe and it's been flawless. The very small fees are absolutely worth the watches you will effortlessly win. If you're bidding right, you will lose more auctions than you win. You don't want to overpay. Since I sell a lot of my watches, I lose about 75% of the auctions in which I bid, and I like it that way!
    • Always read the ad copy VERY closely, whether on eBay or elsewhere. Always be aware of the case diameter, as some vintage watches are quite small, but can look large in photos. If necessary, ASK questions of the seller, especially if you're not positive about dents/scratches, dial patina, movement condition and servicing, restoration, etc.
    • Check the seller's Feedback score and percent positive - - even BEFORE you check out the watch. If the seller's score isn't at least 100 and 99.0%, be suspect. The more expensive the watch the more concerned you should be with these numbers. If in doubt, read a couple pages of feedback comments from the seller's customers (make sure you select the feedback tab for "Feedback as a seller." You don't care much about their score as a buyer.)
    • Before pulling the trigger, make sure you know the shipping costs to YOUR location, and that the seller accepts the payment method you want to use. I learned that lesson after paying big fees to wire transfer funds internationally.
    • At the top of the auction is a button to "Watch this item." Click it to view bidding progress in your "My eBay."
    • As soon as you win a vintage watch auction, do the following: 1) Right click and save every one of the seller's photos of "your" watch to your hard drive for future reference (an hour later those photos may have disappeared from the seller's photo server). 2) Copy and paste every bit of ad copy to a Word file for future reference (if you sell it down the road you'll want every bit of information about the watch). 3) Pay for your watch. 4) After 48 hours, request tracking information from the seller. 5) After receiving your watch, inspect it very carefully, using as much magnification as you can (I use high-res photos). Wind and set your watch immediately, checking for smoothness and accuracy. 6) Inform the seller of any problem ASAP, usually within a couple days of receipt. 7) When satisfied, post positive feedback for the seller; he/she will almost certainly reciprocate. 8) Enjoy your vintage watch, and have it serviced if necessary.
    There are lots more things to consider, but it's late and I have work tomorrow. Good luck!
    Megalo Milo likes this.
    Regards from Sunny San Diego..........Tom
    ____________________________________________________
    "There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend, those with loaded
    guns and those who dig!"................Blondie to Tuco in TGTB&TU (1966)


  4. #4
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Thanks guys both posts were very helpful. I was going to buy a vintage watch when i go to Hong Kong on April. Good thing i asked this early cuz I think I'll need a lot of research so I'll know a lot and not be ripped off when I'm there. Thanks again guys!!!!! Oh, anyone know any really good vintage watch websites w/ a lot of pics and history? probably a good place to start
    my collection...thus far

    omega speedmaster date
    tag heuer classic quartz 2000 series
    technomarine alpha
    Tissot Le Locle
    Debaufre GMT-2

  5. #5
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Good idea Tom and since this thread already has some great suggestions I'll stick it and invite the usual suspects to add their comments.
    I'll add a few of my own:
    (1) Have a theme. Collect 1940s wind-ups, vintage chronos or divers, pocket watches from World War I, Gruens, Bulovas, Hamiltons...whatever. Otherwise you'll have an eclectic mishmash. There is too much out there to get one of everything.
    (2) Start with something that's easy to fix and get parts for. That keeps your costs low and you'll be able to actually use it. Bulova is #1 in my book.
    (3) Factor in the cost of service. For sure anything you buy will need cleaning, lubrication and adjustment. Thats probably an additional $100.

    Some websites:
    http://www.chronocentric.com/watches/brands.shtml This one deals with major brands of new watches but has some good comments about what is a good bet in used.

    http://filebox.vt.edu/users/zbortolo...es/Page_1.html Consumer Reports from 1949. The watch market in the US 60 years ago. Good to see what was great back then and what was not so great.

    And finally, my personal choices. If I were starting a collection today I'd choose one of: Tissot, Bulova, Omega, Zenith, Elgin, Hamilton.
    Last edited by Ray MacDonald; February 6th, 2008 at 15:49.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  6. #6
    Member pacifichrono's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Quote Originally Posted by odin426 View Post
    Oh, anyone know any really good vintage watch websites w/ a lot of pics and history? probably a good place to start
    If your budget can stand it...

    www.darlor-watch.com

    www.farfo.com

    Regards from Sunny San Diego..........Tom
    ____________________________________________________
    "There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend, those with loaded
    guns and those who dig!"................Blondie to Tuco in TGTB&TU (1966)


  7. #7
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    When searching on Ebay for a specific brand or model use the advanced search and search worldwide.

    I only buy watches that I will wear so the condition and style has to be right for me or, no matter how much of a bargain, I will not buy.

    I don't have a theme as such, I have a variety of different styles and ages all of which are worn on different occasions. This works for me.

    Try to buy good quality, there are a lot of high quality vintage watches out there the names of which may not be well known, do your research!!!

    If you start selling it makes a difference to what you are prepared to buy, the tendency can be to take a chance and, if it's not right, sell it on. You can also get caught up in the potential profit rather than the beauty of the watch. You are then a dealer

    The internet is a superb resource with mountains of valuable information, use it and do your research.

    Research, research and research some more.

    Did I say research?

    Be careful about boring the pants off your friends with the manufacturing history of your latest find.

    Enjoy.
    Megalo Milo likes this.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    hey guys found a website w/ some good pics, i don't know if the prices are good but so far I've been using it as a reference to check out vintage watches.

    www.coolvintagewatches.com
    my collection...thus far

    omega speedmaster date
    tag heuer classic quartz 2000 series
    technomarine alpha
    Tissot Le Locle
    Debaufre GMT-2

  9. #9
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    Not sure if this is a right place to be asking this..
    Is this place reliable?
    http://www.watchcat.com

  10. #10
    Moderator Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on buying a vintage watch

    No. This is the stickie thread on tips on buying a vintage watch.

    WatchUSeek has a forum for sharing these things... Watch Deals. It's accessible off the main forum page (at the bottom).
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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