Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?
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  1. #1
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    Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    Hi, I have recently become interested in vintage watches. So far I have bought only one (Roamer Elegant, MST 521), but I would like to gradually build a little collection. I'm not very interested in expensive watches and the most sought-after brands; trying to find nice watches in 10-50 dollar/euro price range from ebay and local auctions sounds much more fun.

    My question to you is, do you have your inexpensive vintage watches regularly serviced? I think it's obvious that if you spend a lot of money for something, you should be willing to pay a little more to keep it in good condition. However, having a cheap vintage watch serviced for a price that might be several times more than the buying price of the watch, doesn't sound good to me.
    On the other hand I read comments of watchmakers saying that not servicing a watch regularly will not only cause it to run poorly, but will eventually start to destroy the movement, which of course doesn't sound good either.

    For example my Roamer, which I bought for 30 euros. I have no information of its possible service history, but it's running fine, less than 5 seconds fast per day. Would you recommend me to have it checked and serviced anyway, or just use it happily and not think about it untill it shows some problem? Or do you think it's not even worth getting into vintage watches if one is not willing to pay for service?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by jsavis; February 22nd, 2015 at 21:09.

  2. #2
    Member Shum's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    I service my own watches so yes it's worth it.

    Value of a watch is one thing and has really nothing to do with servicing a watch but rather the economy of the owner and his/her ability to spend the money. Often a cheap watch has been used until it stopped so they can be worn out.
    Last edited by Shum; February 22nd, 2015 at 21:20.

  3. #3
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    I service my own watches so yes it's worth it.
    +1...I service my own collection...

    That said - I find it hard to accept that a person can love vintage watches and then willfully participate in their destruction through neglect.

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  5. #4
    Member HOROLOGIST007's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    Sadly, I can not service my own collection. So my greats are never worn, and my not so greats worn till they stop.

    I just payed $2600 to get 10 not so greats serviced.
    Its an expensive passion
    adam
    Last edited by HOROLOGIST007; February 22nd, 2015 at 23:03.
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    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE.

    "Failure is not an option" - Gene Kranz
    "Owning a vintage watch is great, understanding where it sits in Horology is magnificent"
    and
    "By Teaching Others, We Teach Ourselves"
    Adam

  6. #5
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    Well, lets put it this way. Would you choose not to service a 2nd hand Civic once or twice a year just because you only paid a grand or so for it? In fact, would the amount you paid for the car even be a factor in your decision to service it?
    Last edited by AbslomRob; February 22nd, 2015 at 22:53.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  7. #6
    Member HOROLOGIST007's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Well, lets put it this way. Would you choose not to service a 2nd hand Civic once or twice a year just because you only paid a grand or so for it? In fact, would the amount you paid for the car even be a factor in your decision to service it?
    Depends how much you drive it.
    I have a Mercedes, I hardly drive it, and I rarely to never get it serviced.
    I check the oil and tires and that it.
    Oh! and it inspected every year for safety.

    Even Museums do not service unwound watches
    a
    Bodyblue and busmatt like this.
    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT. FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE.

    "Failure is not an option" - Gene Kranz
    "Owning a vintage watch is great, understanding where it sits in Horology is magnificent"
    and
    "By Teaching Others, We Teach Ourselves"
    Adam

  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    The assumption was that it was being "driven"; the OP was rather specifically not talking about "museum pieces". :)
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  9. #8
    Member demonfinder's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    I judge my Vintage buys (mostly a Roamer collector btw ) on a case by case basis as I can`t service my watches either.
    Luckily after my first few buys I found a great local watch maker who has a passion for vintage and also reasonable charges -around £40-45 for a manual and £55-60 for a full auto service -if you collect watches with more complications then you`d expect the service charges to be higher .
    My general rules are if it`s keeping good time,winding and setting smoothly then an immediate service might not be necessary -but I try and jot down or make a mental note of when I bought it a use a rough rule of thumb of a service every 5 years.
    I`ve had a few great buys labelled "for spares/repairs " which have had great dials/cases and just needed minor parts and a service to bring them back to their former glory.
    It`s probably a good idea to decide what brands or types of watches you want to collect though and learn a bit about replacement parts availability/movement quality of a particular brand as well as finding a local guy who actually has an interest in bringing vintage pieces back to life.
    If you only have local branches of high street chains nearby the probably wont have either the interest or knowledge to fix them - unless it`s a Rolex or something and they can bleed you dry for on the service charge :0)
    If you fall for a particular brand where parts may be a problem you may have to start scouting for old donor watches as a back up.
    The first Service my local guy did was on a 1930`s Roamer...basic mechanism all intact just needed cleaning,lube and adjusting -he did it for about £30 as it was a fairly simple movement ..loses less than 15 seconds a day for a 80+ year old watch..


    P.S If you can get the back off your watch many watchmakers leave a little lightly scratched service date mark on them -so it might give you some clue -the more vintage the watch the more marks it would be nice to see
    If you want to wear your new finds keep `em ticking !
    £50 for a service over 5 years works out at about 20p a week -quarter of a packet of crisps ! :0)
    Happy collecting
    Last edited by demonfinder; February 22nd, 2015 at 23:39.
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  10. #9
    Member Shum's Avatar
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

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    Here is a late 1940's $10 ASU watch that I just have serviced and the next step is to find the pencil style hands it should have and a new crystal. The FEF 310 movement was a joy to work on but I did scratch my head about the click sping but it turned out to be stupid simple.

    Sure metal can be seen here and there on the dial but I just love it and I'm going to use this watch for myself. I can only say it's easier then one would expect after the firs try and as long as one keeps to these non date models it's really straight forwards as long as nothing is broken.
    Last edited by Shum; February 22nd, 2015 at 23:41.

  11. #10
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    Re: Do you have your cheap vintage watches serviced?

    Many thanks for all your comments!

    I definitely don't want to participate in destructing vintage watches through neglect, like Paleotime said, so I must accept that this hobby will involve additional costs.
    I envy you who have the ability to service your own watches, that takes the hobby to a whole new level. I am actually playing with the idea to start learnig basic servicing skills, but I'm not sure I have the time and courage to start the process... I'm sure it would be very pleasing and rewarding though. I just started to read through the Tools sticky on the Watchmaking forum...

    Some additional notes on my Roamer: I tested how long it runs with one winding; the result was nearly 58 hours, lying flat on the table. And it gained only a few seconds during that time. So it seems to be in quite fine running condition, although I didn't find any service date marks on it. I guess I don't need to hurry with having this serviced, but have to make a mental note, like demonfinder said, so that it will not be forgotten.

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