Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'
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Thread: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

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  1. #1
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Picture Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    (sorry for confusion, if any. I copy-posted this from the 'other' VC thread because this is my own question)

    Well-don't ask how or for details but I was able to strike a deal with the owner for this watch that was mutually agreeable considering its condition issues-such as...its DISAPPEARING LOGO!!! here are some other pics:


    2.notice how much more faded the logo is from op's pic from a few days ago.:


    3.the crystal (probably from the 70s) cleaned up nicely but it wasn't done yet in this photo which shows how badly I need a TOP NOTCH refinisher/redialer:




    So-the above is the Vacheron and Constantin in question: As you can see the dial is in pretty bad shape and disintegrating in what seems like before my eyes. Yes-I bought the poor guys watch. It has an inscription on the back which lowers its value as well as a few other issues that we negotiated a much more 'realistic' price for.

    NOW-my BIGGEST issue is WHAT TO DO WITH THE DIAL? I guess no matter how much 'patina' I can tolerate this dial is BEYOND. Beyond beyond. The guy took his picture a few nights ago and swore he didn't do ANYTHING to try and clean it (and I believe him) yet it arrived with the '12' half gone as well as the V&C /Geneve Suisse even more faded then before. So-wetehr I decide to keep or flip I have to get a service (Don't think its too bad. I was able to get it running for a few minutes but don't want to push it. It may just need a c/s.

    But the dial. I had a BAD experience with Kirk in Pittsbrg, PA. And it seems to me-As long as I have an original and complete 1938 VC with matching signed case with the leCoutre ..?.. movement that VC bought and finished and regulated to time and temp I should NOT skimp on the dial. So I need some suggestions on how I might proceed:

    A) do I get it serviced by my regular guy and then send it out for the dial?

    B) Do I send it out for the dial and THEN send it to my guy?

    C) Should I find a guy who has expertise in this VC/leCoutre combo and have him do everything?

    D) none of the above

    E) ANY of the above

    The point is-I don't have or want to spend an unnecessary fortune on this watch to get it up to speed. If I throw in the towel with the dial and accept I have to have it refinished to bring ANY value-I would ONLY go top notch re-dialer (as I have had it with bargain and/or mediocre refinishers. How much is an average dial cost to refinish at a quality level (meaning-there are NO applied numerals/logos to remove which I believe is what determines cost of refinish). The service I can deal with.

    Also-what are vintage experts thoughts on buffing out the Inscription on the case back? (its NOT just initials which I could live with-Its a whole personalized sentence) The case is solid and not thin but I really don't know if buffing it out will take too much metal and/or even look that much better then living with the aug.15, 1944 (anniv of Operation Dragoon in Southern France ww2-btw)

    SO:
    1-To Refinish or Not, and if so...any tips, or referrals as to where? (I remember a guy out in L.A. being mentioned but forgot his name. Any others will be appreciated. And how much to spend on a redial if the goal is for resale? I can't even guess what this watch might bring in this condition. The prices for online retailers are absurd and ended auctions are anywhere from $400-over $1000. I am NOT under any illusions that a SS 30s VC will bring down what a modern (or pre 1920s) piece will bring.

    2-to remove inscription or leave it be. Case is not gold-so it won't remove anything but SS however I'd like opinons on how this has turned out for guys here?

    3-the the ULTIMATE question...To Sell or Not to Sell? Any opinions on that I would like to here as well. (just an FYI-the case is square 26mmX26mm so its rather delicate. Case is pretty thin too. It DEFINITELY would make a VERY sharp watch on alligator black for a banker or other upper echelon guy who dresses to the nines

    Thanks. Hope this post gets picked up where I joined in so I don't have to start a new thread. uuff! thanx
    Last edited by DaBaeker; May 22nd, 2013 at 04:21.
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  2. #2
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    I can't comment on the dial refinishing, as I don't generally deal in metal dial watches.

    With regard to the inscription-at one time, any sort of personalized inscription was considered to make the watch unsellable. My opinion(and the opinion of many other major collectors I know) is that a dislike of period inscriptions on old watches is misguided. I consider them an integral and intimate part of the history of the watch. I've owned watches with retirement, birthday, wedding, Christmas, employment awards, and even fair prize inscriptions. Evey one of them adds an interesting dimension to the watch, the watch's history, the owner's history, and the watch's place in history. All that aside, many of the old presentations are true works of art in and of themselves.

    Think of all that you're losing, while at the same time leaving an ugly scar on the case back that can never be repaired.
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  3. #3
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Every redial is hand labor usually not by the owner/operator but rather by employees. So there is a great deal of variance even within the same shop.

    Personally I'd send this to International. Good as any and better than most

    Removing the inscription further changes the watch (even if it can be done). Personally, I think they ADD to the collectability and history of the watch and love that they depress the market value

    I have not yet ever flipped a watch. I know I will in the future as my taste has changed and I can't find homes for all the 'discards' among my friends and family. But if you want to be the one dressing to the nines, fix it!
    "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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  5. #4
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Quote Originally Posted by Eeeb View Post
    . But if you want to be the one dressing to the nines, fix it!
    Yup. I would ALWAYS like to be the one dressing to the 'nines' but I still have to make the bills by building cabinetry in my shop. Oh well. I think this may be one of my first flippers (or is it flippees?) However-the more I invest in restoration-the more I'm likely to fall for it big time. Thanks for the International tip. I hope to get one or two more redialers and hope this guy in calif. I've heard mentioned before -is it Derek somebody? Oh well. This time I will have learned my lesson to not except the totally lower then professional quality I stupidly accepted from Kirk Dial. Funny that the only other watch I redialed was a slightly larger 27mm x 27mm Omega. Luckily me wife has absconded with this watch too and claims to be in 'love' with its elegance. its 18 or 14k and one day-I have the logo redone. But at least the Omegas has the applied Omega logo going for it. The VC will be totally dependent on a true artisan redoing a period correct V & C plus underneath, at least 'Geneve' and I would like the original 'Geneve Suisse' is possible. Otherwise-it seems like a pretty straight forward redial with no removal of applied index/markers involved.


    And thanks BenH for you opinion on the inscription. I think you may have hit it right on the nail. The date is 8-15-44-a great date for US troops in ww2 and the rest is done in a type of neo-gothic script which is pleasing. I would HATE a big blank mark on the caseback and will keep the inscription as it is. I also noticed that the majority of VC that are selling online have the euphemistic "professionally refreshed" dials (give me a break. Just say its refinished. I guess becuase the dial is plain with blued steel hands I should just stick to a black inked dial-nothing fancy. White/silvery dail with black font.

    A shame its a little small for my normal taste...PLUS...I have my beloved Grandpops platinum Hamilton Morgan that I BARELY ever wear but have many memories of on his wrist. I feel too guilty wearing the VC before I wore Granddads watch. I guess I should post a pict of the movement but I think richart and (someone else) already pointed out that its most likely made by leCoultre and finished by VC. an early v458? The mount or shock protection over the balance jewel looks like an interim design before the later 40s models.
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    I can't comment on the dial refinishing, as I don't generally deal in metal dial watches.

    With regard to the inscription-at one time, any sort of personalized inscription was considered to make the watch unsellable. My opinion(and the opinion of many other major collectors I know) is that a dislike of period inscriptions on old watches is misguided. I consider them an integral and intimate part of the history of the watch. I've owned watches with retirement, birthday, wedding, Christmas, employment awards, and even fair prize inscriptions. Evey one of them adds an interesting dimension to the watch, the watch's history, the owner's history, and the watch's place in history. All that aside, many of the old presentations are true works of art in and of themselves.

    Think of all that you're losing, while at the same time leaving an ugly scar on the case back that can never be repaired.
    100% agreed
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    Member joeuk's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Agree with others heard good things about international watch dial. And I own a trench watch with someones initials and to me makes it a bit more interesting, makes you wonder about the original owner. Good luck if you have the work done and if so before and afters would be nice.

    P.s I would consider having a watchguy have a look before splashing the cash on a dial.

  8. #7
    Member gatorcpa's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Looks like the seller tried a failed attempt to clean the dial before offloa...er, selling the watch to you. You are correct in that the value of this watch is in the movement.

    My recommendation would be to leave the case alone, for reasons expressed by the others above. However, I think that if you really wanted to spend the money, the inscription could be removed without leaving a scar on the back. I've heard that some jewelers use an industrial laser to do this, but it isn't easy or cheap. Also, not 100% sure that it would work on steel. You'd need to ask your watchmaker or jeweler.

    At this point, assuming that you've decided to restore the movement at least, you should start scouring the internet for a picture of what the dial should look like. It is obvious that this dial was redialled before, so doing it again certainly can't hurt and can only help. There should be a reference number inside the case and you can try to Google it to find old eBay and other auction records. Maybe you'll get lucky!

    I have a very similar story with a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch very early in my collecting career. I found this sad looking customer on a website for $75:



    Anyway, it comes in and the movement is running but the hands are all bent. The watch kept on stopping and you can see the condition of the original dial. The caseback was all chewed up inside too. I decided that this one was too far gone and the seller gave me a prompt refund.

    About two years later I see this watch for sale on eBay for $500:





    The serial number matched. And yes, it did sell. Someone took that beat up old watch and made something out of almost nothing.

    So the question remains...Do you want to?
    gatorcpa

    PS - For a good example of what V&C used to do to LeCoultre movements, look here:

    JLC's Classic Ebauche

    Make sure to click on the pictures, as SteveG is the best watch photographer on the internet.
    Last edited by gatorcpa; May 24th, 2013 at 19:37.

  9. #8
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Quote Originally Posted by gatorcpa View Post
    Looks like the seller tried a failed attempt to clean the dial before offloa...er, selling the watch to you. You are correct in that the value of this watch is in the movement.



    Anyway, it comes in and the movement is running but the hands are all bent. The watch kept on stopping and you can see the condition of the original dial. The caseback was all chewed up inside too. I decided that this one was too far gone and the seller gave me a prompt refund.






    So the question remains...Do you want to?
    gatorcpa

    PS - For a good example of what V&C used to do to LeCoultre movements, look here:

    JLC's Classic Ebauche

    Make sure to click on the pictures, as SteveG is the best watch photographer on the internet.

    Thats a great JLC story. Too bad you didn't stick that in your watch tomb for a later time. And the answer is absolutely yes-I'm going to go for it with the VC. My watchmaker is excited (and THAT is really hard to believe!) I have found a new crystal and the rest I'll leave to him. I am pretty sure the movement is in good shape and only needs a cleaning and service. Maybe a main spring? I'll cross my fingers on this. As for the dial-I have a number of examples from the late 30s and early 40s. If I was EXTREMELY lucky I would find a tiny SS maltese cross to apply but I don't actually believe they were used in these 30s square cases. (Where would I find that anyway?) So I'll probably just stick to a simple and bold black on silver/white dial. Nothing fancy. My BIG concern is the V&C look appropriate for the 30s and that the re-dailer can handle HIGH quality fonts. Also-some thing it was redialed before but with the 'VACHERON & CONSTANTIN GENEVE SUISSE' ?? Im not sure a redialer would have used that configuration? But then if it was made for the US export market -who knows. If I cant find one single example of the 'GENEVE SUISSE' on any other dial I may just have the redialer go with a nice bold-but appropriately sized 'vacheron & constantin' and possibly either JUST 'geneve' or maybe nothing and a 'swiss' under the subdial. Decisions, decisions.

    Also-I am definitely NOT messing with the inscription. The aug,15 '44 date is interesting enough and the font is a decent looking style.

    As for "unloading" versus "buying". Oy. did I do well? The poor guy really didn't know a thing about vintage and I don't want to rub it in by announcing how much less I convinced him to sell at. In all fairness-I am the one taking the chance that it wont need that much work-and-(obviously-he knew he had NO reputation on wus , ebay, etc. and nobody knew who he was. I think a pawn shop offered him about the same as I.) In fact-my wife-ever the moralist-told me that if I decide to sell-I should cut him in for a % just because I may have done 'outrageously' well and it would be the 'nice' thing to do. So I told him I will...if I sell. ...[it IS a bit slim and small @ 27x27 for my tastes but what WIS wants to give up a VC or a PP that just 'happens' by one day? Maybe I'll just wear it for a while. ] So-its off to the watchmaker I guess.

    Oh-one more question.....If YOU were reconditioning a watch like this and you knew your watchmaker was just going to use his regular redialer-would you have the dial done FIRST-before the c/s, ask you watchmaker wether his guy is good enough, -OR- wait until during the c/s and have watchmaker send dial to MY choice of redialer. (Though-I still have NO IDEA who to use.)? thnkx
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  10. #9
    Member DaBaeker's Avatar
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    BTW-thanks for that link to the JLC/VC connection. My 1938/9 leCoutre cal 4xx has an interesting cap over the balence jewel that evidently was 'improved' upon in later models but everything else about mine looks the same as the later 40s VC chronometre royale. Of course VC took its finishing to an even higher level and there are a few other changes-such as the additional gear for the CS hand, a swan neck reg., and what looks to me like a scythe hook overlaying the movement but its still finished very nicely.
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  11. #10
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    Re: Need some expert advice/opinions on what to do with 30s V&C with 'issues'

    Quote Originally Posted by DaBaeker View Post
    As for "unloading" versus "buying". Oy. did I do well?
    Just my poor attempt at a joke. No idea what you paid, you can send me a PM if you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaBaeker View Post
    Oh-one more question.....If YOU were reconditioning a watch like this and you knew your watchmaker was just going to use his regular redialer-would you have the dial done FIRST-before the c/s, ask you watchmaker wether his guy is good enough, -OR- wait until during the c/s and have watchmaker send dial to MY choice of redialer. (Though-I still have NO IDEA who to use.)? thnkx
    I wouldn't want my watchmaker sending the dial out to his redialler without knowing if they had the correct dies. If you can find a similar watch with the same reference and movement caliber, that would be a start. You could e-mail the company with the correct dial image first and they would tell you how close they could get. At least that's what International Dial would do. I don't think that the original would have had "Geneve Suisse" on the dial. Most people know in which country Geneva is located.

    If you can get the printing to look something like this, should be close enough for government work:

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    Good luck with the project and please let us know how it turns out,
    gatorcpa

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