Greetings, this is my first post.
I've got a birthday coming up, and I'm looking into a grownup watch. For a number of reasons*, I've got my mind set on a vintage (pre-quartz) mechanical chronograph somewhere in the $500 range. I'm fine with a non-automatic and I'm fine with a watch that shows some wear, so long as it works (as well as a 50-80 year old mechanical does).
I'm not looking to start round out a collection, I don't think I'm investing, I'm not beholden to any specific brand. I deal with older cars regularly, so I've been on the other side of this question from newbies before. I know enough to know to ask before I have a tough learning experience.
Getting the "best" I can isn't so critical as avoiding picking up a costly mistake.
I'm starting with eBay because...well just because. Here's my saved search: LINK
Aesthetically, here's what I'm going for:
Vintage Delbana Chronograph Classic Dial Completely Restored | eBay
Landeron 148 Two Register Chronograph Elmont C 1940's 50'S | eBay
Vintage Cuervo Y Sobrinos Chronograph Classic Silver Dial Just Serviced | eBay
Vintage 1940's Alsta Up and Down Chronograph Manual Venus 170 Very Nice WOW | eBay
Vintage Thoresen Recipro Register Chronograph Telemeter Dial 17J Manual Watch | eBay
Vintage 1940's Lemania 15TL Steel Men's Chronograph Pilot Watch Auricoste 2040 | eBay
Overhauled All Original 1940's Bovet 17 Jewel Chronograph w Tropic Sport Strap | eBay
These two initially caught my eye...then did the typical eBay exponential price rise in the last hour:
Omega Chronograph Manual Wind Vintage C 1950 Tachymetre Gents Wrist Watch | eBay
Excellent Vintage Stainless Steel Breitling Premier Chronograph Model 760 | eBay
I have done a little homework, here are my current guiding principles:
- If a mechanical piece lasted and was cared about enough to make it this far, it's probably a decent brand with decent quality. The lousy ones died off long ago, obsessing over "is ____ a good brand/movement?" probably isn't a concern
- Avoid non-functional, incomplete or obviously "beat" looking units. I don't know enough to differentiate between a basket case and a "just needs ___ and it's great" example
- Only buy from US sellers
- If it hasn't been recently cleaned and serviced by a 100% feedback high-volume vintage watch seller, assume it'll need servicing in the near future
- What am I missing or mistaken on?
- Is eBay too risky of a market?
- Does it make more sense to spend less or more? e.g., are the $500 examples just overpriced $250 examples or crappy $750 examples?
Sorry for the long post, thanks in advance!
*I'm an engineer and have a hard time wrapping my mind around something costly that functions worse, but costs more (e.g. a mechanical watch Vs my $35 timex). That said, I love old mechanical things, and use a '64 Ford Falcon with manual steering/brakes/transmission is my daily driver. I love engineering history and old tools. In that context, a functional piece (chronograph, tachymeter) from an era when they were tools for pilots, drivers and engineers makes sense as a historical tool. To me, post-quartz mechanical pieces seem a bit gratuitous.