Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    Greetings, I am a newcomer to WUS, having joined and utilized the site for research over the past couple of weeks. I'm quite impressed with the community here—certainly the resources and knowledge available, but also especially the gracious tenor toward one another and particularly novices like myself. This is my first posting.

    I have set my mind on beginning a vintage watch collection and would appreciate some advice and insight as I get started. First, I have occasion to wear a variety of styles, though my personal taste is definitely never trendy or loud. Second, I am only looking for affordable pieces at this point (preferably ~$100, maybe up to $300 depending on the item). Third, while I would eventually like to "specialize" in a certain brand/movement/period etc., I would first like to build an eclectic collection, with a few watches from various countries and time periods. Fourth, I really appreciate watches and brands that have some kind of historical significance, (Vulcain Cricket, e.g.).

    Based on my recent reading and searching, I've compiled this list of some reputable brands and their respective source countries which (I believe) are consistent with my parameters:
    Swiss: Longines, Enicar, Tissot, Favre Leuba, Vulcain (Cricket), Girard Perregaux
    German: Certina, Alpina, Dugena, Junghans
    Japanese: Seiko
    American: Benrus, Hamilton, Elgin
    British: CWC (Swiss made), Smiths
    Russian: Pobeda, Vostok, Raketa, Poljot, Sekunda
    Indian: HMT

    I'm open to collecting these watches in any particular order, opportunistically. My strategy is to begin looking in earnest for pieces on my list and vet them through the WUS community before pulling the trigger. I would love to hear from some of you in terms of...
    • other countries/brands/specific watches I should add to my list?
    • any on my current list that are unadvisable to consider?

    Shum likes this.

  2. #2
    Zenith Forum Co-moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    Welcome to Watchuseek! For a start, I will permit myself a slight correction: Certina is Swiss (from Grenchen), not German.

    Of the brands you mention, G-P is an absolute minefield. Lots of fakes and frankenwatches about out there. Vulcain Crickets in decent condition won't be cheap either and will almost certainly go to the upper end of your budget and probably even surpass it. And please remember that any watch - whether a cheap, no-name, ETA movement watch for 25$ or a Vulcain Cricket for 300+$ will need a service, and that will set you back another 100$ or so. If it doesn't need a service, it won't be 25$ or 300$ respectively, it should cost rather more.

    I am afraid that it will come down to the individual watch in question. Post some piccies before you buy it, ask the people here and you will get great advice. Good luck!

    Hartmut Richter
    busmatt and GUTuna like this.

  3. #3
    Member Shum's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    I'm a Certina fan so I say go out and find a original DS from the late 50's early 60's as they are a mile stone in watch history and they are really nice watches and feel solid on the wrist. If you are collecting rather then buying to wear then anything that you like the look of goes.

    There is a following of lesser brands like Atlantic, Olma, Laco, Onsa etc etc that used generic movements from the big movement makers and these are generally much cheaper then bigger brands but just as fun.

    I'm a junk buyer myself but can now and then get my grubby hand on some nice watches and I never ever buy a watch for more then $100 and that much money is rare for me to spend.

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  5. #4
    Member kit7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    I suggest narrow down your search and concentrate on one or, perhaps two brands. This will help you get to know them, what looks right (not a franken) and what's good value for money. As you gain more knowledge you can start to diversify a bit.
    Welcome to the forum.
    busmatt and JOSE G like this.

  6. #5
    Member Seele's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Sydney Australia

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    There are many similar threads started by people who want to make a start in vintage watch collecting, they are worth referring to.

    Also, Sekonda is a British importer and distributor of watches, who sell watches under their own brand regardless of the actual manufacturer. Before the dissolution - and indeed for a short while afterwards they sourced watches from the Soviet Union, so it's not really a manufacturer.
    busmatt likes this.

  7. #6
    Member mkws's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    As to American brands, I guess you can count Bulova in as well.

    Favre-Leuba? Bad idea. Mostly bad quality Indian redials. Quite often they have movements wrecked by long exposure to a mix of heat and humidity, which tends to mess up any non-waterproof watch, and with vintage watches, non-waterproof (on the contrary to what's written on the dial or the case... or on both) ones are the majority.

    Tissot? Oh yeah. As a Tissot fan, I'd suggest looking for pre-1960 pieces, equipped with all sorts of derivatives of the good old calibre 27.

    Under $300, you can also hunt for a Zenith. Got my 1948 cal. 126-5 for $200, so even if basic COA will cost $100, that's still within your budget.
    Theoretically, in this range Omega is a viable option as well- but I wouldn't recommend that to anyone who just starts to collect watches, not with a clear conscience at least. One of the worst minefields that you can walk into. How many times have I seen a "just bought a vintage Omega" thread, and either I or someone else had to inform the OP that he's just bought a pile of rubbish... I hate to give anyone the bad news, so I won't recommend Omega.

    I agree with Shum about Atlantic- that's a good option alright. Yeah, generic movements, but a wee bit above the average stuff- red gold plating, adjusted... And the early 1950s two-tone Worldmaster/Varldsmastarur is just one hell of a good-looking watch.

    Certina... Another good idea- yeah, the DS is pretty much bulletproof. I own one non-DS Certina, a Club 2000 from circa 1976 (give or take a year), and I guess one can't go wrong with one of these either.

    Seiko's perfectly fine, but don't buy one from India... Same goes for Enicar.

    Raketa and Poljot? Rugged and reliable, and priced reasonably- at 20 bucks, even if you go wrong with one, it's not much of a loss. And the parts are dirt cheap. You can even get a stash of movements for a few bucks, and have a supply of parts for a lifetime.

    BE CAREFUL WITH GIRARD-PERREGAUX! That's one of the all-time absolute favourites for the fakers... Redials, frankens... And, because of using almost exclusively generic movements, almost anything with a Peseux in it can be turned into a GP.

    I'd also suggest Roamer- but again, stay away from the ones from India and China. OK, it's best to stay away from anything sold from the latter.

    Another suggestion: Doxa. They're not perfectly safe from frankens and redials, sometimes obvious Chinese fakes. That said, same rules apply. I've been able to write a short guide to these watches- I've posted it in the Links & Articles section of this forum. It's not much, and it's still missing a lot of info, but I guess that it'll help you with the basics of identifying a pre-1966 specimen.
    Shum, trim, busmatt and 2 others like this.
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    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Deep East Texas

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    I would just have to add Waltham to your list. They've got lots of great history and can be found for good prices.
    I would also agree with others about focusing one one brand for a while until you become more knowledgeable. A good brand for this would be Bulova - lots of interesting history and models with easily accessible parts and information.
    Bulova - Vintage Watches - The History of Bulova |
    * and I should add that Bulova has tons of cool names!
    Last edited by CC Texas; February 25th, 2016 at 04:30.
    busmatt and JOSE G like this.
    "A watch is ruined, not by time, but by bad handling. To run well it should be wound regularly, cleaned yearly, and, if injured, taken to a competent, practical man. A ​Waltham watch properly cared for will last a lifetime." -American Waltham Watch Co. Catalog (c) 1900
    “When your watch gets out of order you have a choice of two things to do: throw it in the fire or take it to the watch-tinker. The former is the quickest.” -Mark Twain

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    Hartmut, thanks for the correction on Certina. I appreciate the word on servicing as well. I have factored the necessity of servicing, which is raises another question I had: is there a WUS thread or another outlet that provides a listing or database, as it were, of local reputable watch service providers? In my case, shops in Louisville?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    Thanks for this info on Sekonda. It wasn't one of the leading considerations in terms of my browsing for Soviet pieces so far anyway, so I'll eliminate it from my list.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Newcomer seeking advice for beginning collection

    Thanks mkws! On yours and shum's recommendation, I've got Atlantic on my list. And I've eliminated F-L and G-P thanks to you and Hartmut. I'll keep my eye out for these other brands you've mentioned as well.
    busmatt and mkws like this.

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