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  1. #21
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Thanks for all the input, folks, it's incredible the breadth of knowledge people have on this forum. A followup question--what is your approach to determining or making your best judgment as to whether a piece is genuine/original vs. a franken-watch or an outright fake? For example: Vintage 1940's Men's s s LeCoultre 2 Register Chronograph Watch Runs | eBay I haven't found a resource for JLC/LeCoultre quite like the Omega vintage watch database where I could plug in the model number/case back number and see whether it checks out. But just looking at it, it is a column wheel movement, suggesting the movement at least is a pretty high-quality piece, and the dial certainly looks aged. Are there any obvious signs of it being a franken-watch? I use this only as an example, I do not intend to bid on this particular piece, but would appreciate collecting some more know-how in this area.

  2. #22
    Member GhentWatch's Avatar
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by gouverneur View Post
    Thanks for all the input, folks, it's incredible the breadth of knowledge people have on this forum. A followup question--what is your approach to determining or making your best judgment as to whether a piece is genuine/original vs. a franken-watch or an outright fake? For example: Vintage 1940's Men's s s LeCoultre 2 Register Chronograph Watch Runs | eBay I haven't found a resource for JLC/LeCoultre quite like the Omega vintage watch database where I could plug in the model number/case back number and see whether it checks out. But just looking at it, it is a column wheel movement, suggesting the movement at least is a pretty high-quality piece, and the dial certainly looks aged. Are there any obvious signs of it being a franken-watch? I use this only as an example, I do not intend to bid on this particular piece, but would appreciate collecting some more know-how in this area.

    Thanks for ruining my deal, :P



    Anyways, here dial looks good. Lecoultre doesn´t have a free to acces database. The Zaf Basha book is as close as it gets (and it doesn´t get you that far).
    Always look for swapped bridges, people smack on a signed bridge on an unsigned mouvement a lot et voila it becomes a lecoultre.

    Here you can see the movement has importmarks : VXN , which is the import mark for Vacheron Constantin and Lecoultre in the US. So for me it checks out. At least the parts do.
    Fairly hard to find out if the complete watch is a complete match without looking for period-advertisement.
    Vintage Chronographs and Divers are my thing.

  3. #23
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by gouverneur View Post
    Thanks for all the input, folks, it's incredible the breadth of knowledge people have on this forum. A followup question--what is your approach to determining or making your best judgment as to whether a piece is genuine/original vs. a franken-watch or an outright fake? For example: Vintage 1940's Men's s s LeCoultre 2 Register Chronograph Watch Runs | eBay I haven't found a resource for JLC/LeCoultre quite like the Omega vintage watch database where I could plug in the model number/case back number and see whether it checks out. But just looking at it, it is a column wheel movement, suggesting the movement at least is a pretty high-quality piece, and the dial certainly looks aged. Are there any obvious signs of it being a franken-watch? I use this only as an example, I do not intend to bid on this particular piece, but would appreciate collecting some more know-how in this area.
    Now you are getting into the meat of why I really just don't have time to deal with trying to buy vintage watches at this point in my life. This is something of a long-ish post, but I feel it must be because with vintage watches, the matter of authenticity is nowhere near as straightforward as it is with contemporary watches.

    I see the matter of authenticity as having multiple dimensions: (the terms below are mine; I don't know what terms the "experts" use for them)

    • Basic authenticity -- This is pretty straightforward and is no doubt what you have in mind with the post above. The central question here is whether the watch itself, the case, the movement, the crystal, the bracelet, are indeed components produced by the maker whose name appears on the dial and that belonged together as a cased watch. Often enough, this is pretty easy to determine with just a rudimentary level of knowledge about the watch and the maker.
    • Part authenticity &/or "make shift" watch parts -- This aspect of authenticity is considerably more difficult to ascertain and so far, I'm of a mind that only a trained expert can tell. The heart of the matter with part authenticity is of how the watch has been maintained over the years and whether the parts used to repair it (if/when such was needed) correspond to the watch in question. I have not found any way to ascertain this type of authenticity other than taking the watch to an expert watch appraiser. (I suppose I, a non-expert, could acquire the skill and knowledge to make the requisite determination, and to be sure the "osmosis effect" kicks-in as one buys more and more vintage pieces, but I'm not deliberately putting in the effort to be qualified to judge a watch at this level of detail.)

      Many a vintage watch can be well out of repair, and sometimes that the prior owner(s) didn't bother to repair/maintain the watch and just kept it sitting in a box somewhere in its non-working state is preferable. I feel that way because it's far easier to gauge the part authenticity of such watches; all the parts should be original to the piece, just worn and not in working condition. For such watches, I'd have to undertake the restoration effort, but at least I know what I've started with, and I'm in a position to consult with appraisers, other collectors, and restorers about what might be the best approach/compromise for getting the watch operating again. (You'll recall in an earlier post that I might be willing to buy a vintage piece that's in a poor state of repair...this is why.)

      Sometimes, however, one will find a piece that is "basically authentic," but that has been well maintained over the years. Again, how the maintenance was executed makes the difference. Some watches may have been repaired by using authentic parts from the same maker, but the parts used are ones that the maker never actually used in the watch in question. (Is that what folks here call a "franken-watch?") Of course, sometimes that sort of thing is unavoidable, it may even be expected in some cases. Take an old enough watch that's actually running well today and that's from a defunct maker, and it's not altogether unreasonable that it will have had "make shift" repairs performed. What other choice is there if the original maker is gone and the watch is rare, making cannibalizing usable parts from other examples of the same watch nigh impossible?

      Even as sometimes a watch will have authentic but non-original parts from the watchmaker as noted above, a watch can also have parts that were fabricated from scratch by a 3rd party watchmaker or cannibalized from a watch made by a different maker entirely. In my mind, this is less desirable in most cases, but again, it may be unavoidable.

      The discussion in this bullet point pertains to the watch and watch case. What's common to each "flavor" is that the value of the piece, and thus how much one should pay for it, is affected by the parts in question. And that's where the dilemma appears. Nobody wants to pay "100% original" prices for "85% original."
    • Ancillary component authenticity -- This has to do mainly with the authenticity of bracelets, crystals, hands, crowns or any other less critical element of the watch. I know some folks might not consider all the parts I listed to be "less critical." I class them that way because none of them have a direct impact on the movment or the case, and any one of them could have been installed to replace an original part. A sapphire crystal that has been inserted on a watch that was origianally sold with an acrylic one isn't such a big deal to me. Ditto an aftermarket bracelet/strap or even crown. If the case and movement are are legit, I can live with or attempt to replace the ancillary parts with original ones. In contrast, if the movment is mostly a mongrel, I may not even consider the watch worth buying.


    Note: A bit of the following reflects my having extrapolated the lessons I've learned from my experiences collecting art, something that has many triats in common with collecting vintage watches, to the act of seeking, validating and buying vintage watches. Some of it is a reflection of my failed attempts to buy a vintage piece here and there over the past decade. Lastly some of it is just me sharing what I've learned from various estate jewelers (they can be great teachers) with whom I've begun to cultivate a relationship in anticipation of actively buying vintage pieces from them after I retire. (Inviting a jeweler or appraiser to dinner or a cocktail party one hosts is a great way to get them to share their knowledge with you and begin to build a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.)

    I know this sounds like a cop-out, but as I haven't such a book or single website, I put a lot of faith in the seller, and that's about the best I have found I can manage as goes dealing with the dilemma I mentioned just above. Accordingly, I will only consider buying vintage products from sellers who make clear attestations to the state of the item and who stand behind the items they sell. Unfortunately, that means I will generally have to pay a higher price for a watch than will some other folks. Today, sellers of pre-owned/vintage watches whom I consider acceptable are:
    • Touneau and other brick and mortar jewelers (new or estate jewelers) who also sell pre-owned/vintage watches,
    • Aaron Farber,
    • Antiquorum,
    • Tiny Jewel Box,
    • Bonhams & Butterfields’,
    • Coeur d’Alene (good for art, not sure they even handle watches),
    • Christie's,
    • Sotheby's,
    • Freeman's,
    • Weschlers,
    • Other long standing auction houses,
    • Vintage Watch Restoration (Vintage Watch Restoration (VWR) - Watch Catalogue -- the FAQ section here also offers some input on authenticity)
    • Gray and Sons (Pre-owned & Used Vintage Watches), and
    • Long time (20+ years) friends who are also long time collectors (10+ years).

    Even as I trust those sellers I mentioned, the fact is I could still get "burned." (Is John Mayer's Over $650,000 Lawsuit A Reason To Avoid Buying Vintage Watches? - Forbes) There is really no way before you fork over your money to be 100% sure unless you personally are 100% aware of the watch's history. One other thing I've noticed is that vintage watches from rare/little known makers tend to be authentic whereas those from the big names are more often aped by scoundrels.

    My father has a pocket watch in his jewelry box that has been there since I was a child. He told me some 45 or so years ago that it was a watch his great, great uncle Archibald received from his great, great aunt Mimsie on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary. The watch appears to be gold and that it might well be is plausible to me as they were pretty well off plantation owners who a pretty fair amount of land and they owned 63 slaves who worked the land and four who worked in the main house. I couldn't tell you what make of watch it is, but whatever it is, I'm pretty certain it's authentic.

    In situations where one has the sort of fact pattern, be it in one's own family or that of someone whom one knows well and trusts greatly, one can even feel pretty safe buying such an item. I honestly believe outside of that sort of thing, verifying the authenticity of a vintage piece is like trying to get a blind horse to tell the difference between a wink and nod. And, no, I'm not keen to take the word of total strangers attesting to the reputation of other total strangers. As fars as I'm concerned, one of 'em will lie and the other one'll swear to it. I might buy an inexpensive "thing-a-ma-jig" from someone on a forum just because I want it for "sh*ts and grins," and I'm willing to take a chance, but there's no way in hell I'd toss thousands of dollars their way.

    I have a very strong preference for brick-and-mortar sellers. At the very least, I can visit them in person, and while there, I can ask them questions about the watch's authenticity and have them open the case and show/explain to me how I can know that what they have asserted is true. I may or may not know the minute details to which they point, but I can usually tell a cock and bull story when I hear one. And even when I can't put my finger on it, my gut is a pretty good judge of when I should "pull the trigger" and when I should move on. (Yes, sometimes, I encounter folks whose communication skills and facility with English may not serve them well enough to give me comfort and I miss out on a good opportunity, but such is life.)

    Aaron Farber and other estate jewelers will upon request attempt to find a particular watch if you know what you want. That's where having done one's research and having a clear awareness of exactly what one wants to add to one's collection is really critical. You can't really ask them, as you have more or less done in your OP, to "please find/suggest a nice vintage watch for me." You can say that to them, but I really doubt they'd do more than point you toward something they have on hand at the time.

    I have come across some sites that are helpful for verifying certain watches:

    As you may glean from the links above, if the WWW is to be your primary resource for authenticating a watch, you'll likey have to Google something akin to "authenticate [insert brand and/or model]" to see if someone has created a site focused on the watch you have in mind.

    When it comes to books that help on the matter, I'll suggest the ones below. The first three listed are the ones I think are best suited to your aims as I understand them from this thread.



    I'm sure you know this, but I'll write it anyway: prices change. Books that cite them are fine, but the prices can only be used as a rough guide. Also, while for this decade, certain brands and models are in vogue, next decade, they may not be. Indeed, they could quite literally be less sought after six months from now, or even next week, and the prices they command will vary accordingly and as rapidly. Even watches from traditionally hotly craved makers like Rolex and Patek can have widely varying prices among various models. (The preceding is just my feeling the need to insert a disclaimer, before folks start getting on me about the prices they found in one of the books I suggested. <winks>)

    Well, OP, that's about all I can give you on the matter of validating a watch's authenticity. I hope in some way you find it helpful.

    Good luck in your quest.

    All the best.

    They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding, may preserve a man's goods from thieves, but honesty has no defence against superior cunning; and, since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at, or has no law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone, and the knave gets the advantage.
    ― Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
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    Cheers,
    Tony



    Good judgment comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment.
    ― A.A. Milne







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  5. #24
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Wow Tony that's one hell of a post...some good info...

    Buy the seller is about the best advice when buying vintage even if it comes at a premium as it usually does.At least you know what your getting...(in most cases anyway!!)

    As far as the Lecoultre my instincts tell me that it is a redial but an old one...I could be wrong? Remember also that this is under 32mm so is a small watch by today's standards....Another reason for price premium is size...
    Last edited by jackruff; January 23rd, 2015 at 00:18.
    So many watches.....so little time.....

  6. #25
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by jackruff View Post
    Wow Tony that's one hell of a post...some good info...

    Buy the seller is about the best advice when buying vintage even if it comes at a premium as it usually does.At least you know what your getting...(in most cases anyway!!)

    As far as the Lecoultre my instincts tell me that it is a redial but an old one...I could be wrong? Remember also that this is under 32mm so is a small watch by today's standards....Another reason for price premium is size...
    TY.... I hope it benefits someone, even if only by providing one person's perspective, albeit merely as a point of comparison/contrast, re: the issues and trepidation he's experienced concerning vintage watch collecting.

    Red:
    If trying to buy a modern, fine watch is like trying to travel from NYC to the source of the Amazon River, the vintage watch trip may as well be to Mars. That's so annoying to me that I don't have words to describe it.

    All the best.
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________
    Cheers,
    Tony



    Good judgment comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment.
    ― A.A. Milne







  7. #26
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Thanks for your thoughts and pointing out those resources, much appreciated. I have a fair amount of studying up to do!

  8. #27
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by gouverneur View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts and pointing out those resources, much appreciated. I have a fair amount of studying up to do!
    You're welcome.
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________
    Cheers,
    Tony



    Good judgment comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment.
    ― A.A. Milne







  9. #28
    Member kazrich's Avatar
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    Have you considered the merits of one of these ?

    From an ancient members post ( the member and the post are ancient )




    Why your watch deserves RESPECT - In 10 bullet points
    Iv'e often admired images of members vintage watches and clocks on this forum, but been too lazy to Google search details of them.
    I'm starting a thread that lets you tell us why a particular watch you own or have owned deserves RESPECT
    To save pages of long detailed forensic descriptions of everything you have ever read about your watch or clock this thread requires the following.

    1. Pics - so we all know what your talking about
    2. No more than 10 smallish bullet points of info ( First man to land on the surface of the sun wearing this cool beauty - etc. etc. )
    Bored already ? This will put you to sleep

    I'll get it started with

    THE ENICAR SHERPA GRAPH 300


    Click this bar to view the original image of 1024x759px.



    * A late 50's -1960's watch manufactured by Enicar, a Swiss maker selling quality ' regular ' watches worldwide but better known to the Asian market.
    * Top of the line were the SHERPA models, named strangely enough after Sherpa's who guided Enicar wearing climbers on successful expeditions.
    * Enicar sponsored Jim Clark - Possibly the Worlds greatest ever racing driver. Contemporary images would appear to show him wearing a Sherpa Graph.
    * Much admired for the distinctive beautiful reverse panda dial - The dials changed slightly during the production life of this watch.
    * Highly regarded gilt Valjoux 72 movement - Similar movement to the much vaunted Rolex Daytona.
    * Big and durable 40 mm without the crown case.
    * Triple register chronograph
    * Highly regarded EPSA Super Compressor divers case with Enicar divers cross hatched crowns. Brevet 314962 Enicar bayonet fit
    * Still not 'silly money' for good examples













    Cosying up to it's Sherpa Super Divette brother





    Still awake ??
    So tell us about a watch or clock you think deserves RESPECT !






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  10. #29
    Member GhentWatch's Avatar
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    [QUOTE=kazrich;12043449]
    THE ENICAR SHERPA GRAPH 300[/QUOTE]



    Not a chance he´ll find a nice example for under 2K though. I ahve been on the lookout for over 2 years. And the really good unmolested ones are easily 2k+ without service.
    Vintage Chronographs and Divers are my thing.

  11. #30
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    Re: $2,000 - vintage chronograph - what would you recommend?

    This may be something you want to check into ($1600): https://www.etsy.com/listing/1827216...ens-multichron



    All the best.
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    __________________________________________________ _____________________________
    Cheers,
    Tony



    Good judgment comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment.
    ― A.A. Milne







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