Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?
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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    So I'm relatively new to the watch world, and over the last year or so I've picked up a few watches (plus a few others I've accumulated randomly over the years before). I was looking for something affordable and vintage-y, and got a NOS Waltham "red arrow" for a hundred bucks; then on a whim, a Waltham trench watch.

    I've seen a few other affordable, really great looking Walthams on eBay and in other places. With SO MANY different brands of watches, types, ages, etc., I've been thinking maybe an approach to scratching my watch itch would be to focus on one brand, and Waltham appeals: their watches seem affordable, many look great, and its sort of nice to think of an American brand in this way.

    So, question is, for more experienced vintage watch buyers, does this seem a good approach? I know Waltham isn't a high-end Swiss maker, but do their watches seem to hold up well over time (I mean, physically, not cost-wise)? Do they seem over- or under-priced right now? I'm not looking at this as an investment, so I don't care if prices are going up; but I do want to get watches that function well and represent some value.

    By the way, I know enough not to rely on eBay, its a terrible place; I'm using it mostly just as a way to see what's out there.

    Thanks for any advice!

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    Member pithy's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    Pocket or wrist?

    Swiss or American?
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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    Quote Originally Posted by pithy View Post
    Pocket or wrist?

    Swiss or American?
    Wrist.

    I'm open to either American or Swiss. I was aware that Waltham both made watches in the US and (later, I gather) imported from Switzerland, but hadn't thought deeply about which one I prefer. What are thoughts on that?

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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    I'm not a collector in any since of the term.

    Waltham has some really interesting historic pws that are still obtainable.

    Waltham is my personal preference over all other domestic brands.

    Waltham's American ww offerings pale in comparison to Elgin, Hamilton, bulova, gruen, etc.

    Waltham's Swiss wws -with few exceptions - are fairly pitiful by most standards.

    There's a lot of opportunity for collecting timex and Waltham.
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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    For what they are worth, here are some highly subjective thoughts:

    - I think that starting a wristwatch collection based on a relatively inexpensive brand like Waltham is a reasonable approach. You can develop expertise more easily if you focus on a single brand, and the up-front costs and risks are not terribly high.

    - I definitely have the impression that focusing on American-made Waltham watches would be a better approach. The later Swiss-made Walthams do not seem to be as interesting or desirable to most collectors.

    - Another advantage of a brand like Waltham, would be that you would not be as likely to run into deliberately fake or frankened watches; since the relatively low values of the watches don't attract scammers as much as more expensive brands.

    - A disadvantage in collecting low-value watches is that the cost of repair/service/maintenance will generally be significantly greater than the value of the watches themselves. So it can become a money pit, with little potential to recoup a significant fraction of your investment if you decide in the future that you want to sell some watches to buy some different watches. You will need to decide if you care about this issue, it's a very personal decision.

    - Your opinion of eBay is unwarranted in my opinion. It is no more terrible than any other place that humans gather, and better than most. I have had many excellent interactions on eBay, and very few negative experiences. Moreover, eBay is exactly where you will probably need to go to buy most of your watches; you just need to exercise due diligence. It is also an incredible resource for determining the correct market value of watches.
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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    For what they are worth, here are some highly subjective thoughts:

    - I think that starting a wristwatch collection based on a relatively inexpensive brand like Waltham is a reasonable approach. You can develop expertise more easily if you focus on a single brand, and the up-front costs and risks are not terribly high.

    - I definitely have the impression that focusing on American-made Waltham watches would be a better approach. The later Swiss-made Walthams do not seem to be as interesting or desirable to most collectors.

    - Another advantage of a brand like Waltham, would be that you would not be as likely to run into deliberately fake or frankened watches; since the relatively low values of the watches don't attract scammers as much as more expensive brands.

    - A disadvantage in collecting low-value watches is that the cost of repair/service/maintenance will generally be significantly greater than the value of the watches themselves. So it can become a money pit, with little potential to recoup a significant fraction of your investment if you decide in the future that you want to sell some watches to buy some different watches. You will need to decide if you care about this issue, it's a very personal decision.

    - Your opinion of eBay is unwarranted in my opinion. It is no more terrible than any other place that humans gather, and better than most. I have had many excellent interactions on eBay, and very few negative experiences. Moreover, eBay is exactly where you will probably need to go to buy most of your watches; you just need to exercise due diligence. It is also an incredible resource for determining the correct market value of watches.
    All good (some excellent).

    I'm not a fan of Hamilton but the Otis and Ventura are fantastic.

    Where are Waltham's ww icons in pop culture?

    Elgin is as pedestrian as it gets but they have great art deco and other period pieces.

    Gruen has some showstoppers.

    Bulova has the period pieces and the ambassador and the president.

    Waltham wws are borrrrrrrrrrrrrring.
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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    Thanks. I've had a couple of bad experiences on eBay, but that might be partly due to my inexperience. I've been sent a couple of things (not just watches) over the years that have been obviously mis-represented.

    As for the "money pit" aspect I know just what you mean, and that is a concern; I need to get used to factoring in service costs (fortunately I know a guy here in Philadelphia who is good and doesn't charge a ton). But it is a question I'm asking myself.

    I'm looking around but on a self-imposed "hiatus" while I do some research and learn to control myself!

    Quote Originally Posted by badbackdan View Post
    For what they are worth, here are some highly subjective thoughts:

    - I think that starting a wristwatch collection based on a relatively inexpensive brand like Waltham is a reasonable approach. You can develop expertise more easily if you focus on a single brand, and the up-front costs and risks are not terribly high.

    - I definitely have the impression that focusing on American-made Waltham watches would be a better approach. The later Swiss-made Walthams do not seem to be as interesting or desirable to most collectors.

    - Another advantage of a brand like Waltham, would be that you would not be as likely to run into deliberately fake or frankened watches; since the relatively low values of the watches don't attract scammers as much as more expensive brands.

    - A disadvantage in collecting low-value watches is that the cost of repair/service/maintenance will generally be significantly greater than the value of the watches themselves. So it can become a money pit, with little potential to recoup a significant fraction of your investment if you decide in the future that you want to sell some watches to buy some different watches. You will need to decide if you care about this issue, it's a very personal decision.

    - Your opinion of eBay is unwarranted in my opinion. It is no more terrible than any other place that humans gather, and better than most. I have had many excellent interactions on eBay, and very few negative experiences. Moreover, eBay is exactly where you will probably need to go to buy most of your watches; you just need to exercise due diligence. It is also an incredible resource for determining the correct market value of watches.

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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    I'm not much of a collector, but I've had good luck focusing on a niche and sticking with it. If you're seeing things you like that were made by Waltham, that could be a comfortable niche with, as badbackdan said, potentially fewer fakes due to the lower brand recognition.

    Had to go back a while in the search results to find this:
    https://forums.watchuseek.com/f11/web...s-2298058.html
    See the link to the webinar in post 11. Double checked and it still works.

    Personal advice would be that patience and research saves money. If you're not worried about wasting money, you can skimp on patience and research.

    My little niche is early battery-powered watches and I'm quite pleased with my Waltham. Again agreeing with badbackdan, the service cost blew the initial cost out of the water.

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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    I find Waltham WWs to be disappointing in that I see them as a sad end of what was the first and arguably the finest of the old American companies.

    With that said, I think that if you find pieces you like, go for them. You won't have a lot of money tied up, and if other brands tempt you, you can move on to them once you've acquired a "feel" for dealing with vintage watches. One nice thing about Waltham WWs is that parts are plentiful and quite affordable for them-if you learn your own repairs this can be quite a saving grace.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
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    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

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    Re: Thoughts on Waltham for a new collector?

    I think Waltham wrist watches are a good start. However as has been said in this post before, Watham really does not make a lot of worthwhile to collect wrist watches.

    So this is a plus and a minus. As there is next to no market for them, they can be bought cheap.

    Might I suggest looking at buying a Waltham pocket watch. Every collection should have one or two.

    Here are my only Walthams. One is a nice 18s size pocket watch and the other is the "winner" of the jewel wars of the 1950's -1960's, the Waltham 100 jewels. 17 jewels that actually assist the movement in running and 83 that just hang out on the ring under the rotor
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