Vintage Bulova - value???

Thread: Vintage Bulova - value???

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  1. #1
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    Vintage Bulova - value???

    Recently I've been bitten by the vintaqge watch bug, which is dangerous considering I know littel about them. I stumbled across a piece I like - a 1970's Bulova President NOS in box. It looks to be mint. Gold filled. Caliber 10 CH. Possibly restored, but I don't think so. Could anybody advise as to what the value on something like this would be????? Ballpark????

    Thanks!!!



  2. #2
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova - value???

    Looks like it was sold new for around $70. I doubt it would be worth much more than that today. Also you'd have to factor in the cost of a servicing. A watch that old will likely need lubricating at the very least - even if it's never been worn. Otherwise it'll just wear out quickly.
    Bulova is a nice brand - easy to fix, lots of standard parts available. But unless it's a solid gold model it's not valuable. They made them by the millions.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

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    Re: Vintage Bulova - value???

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray MacDonald View Post
    Looks like it was sold new for around $70. I doubt it would be worth much more than that today. Also you'd have to factor in the cost of a servicing. A watch that old will likely need lubricating at the very least - even if it's never been worn. Otherwise it'll just wear out quickly.
    Bulova is a nice brand - easy to fix, lots of standard parts available. But unless it's a solid gold model it's not valuable. They made them by the millions.
    Thanks. I know its been completely serviced.

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  5. #4
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova - value???

    Hi -

    Fundamentally, a watch is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Vintage watches, especially, can often go for significantly more than they are "worth", but for sentimental reasons rather than any sort of valuation calculations (such as new price - depreciation etc).

    But what Ray says is pretty much correct: Bulova made literally millions of watches, and for them to be collectable, they have to be either really unusual or have intrinsive value, such as being solid gold.

    If it's a watch you really like and want to have - and that one is certainly in great shape - then it is worth what you are willing to pay.

    Alternatively, if it really is NOS and in the original box, with papers and sales receipts etc., you might want to acquire it as a very, very long-term investment: if you keep it in that shape, the value of the watch will accrue over time. But for it to be really valuable - such as selling for a hundred multiples of its original price, discounted for inflation - then you may well have to have your grandchildren sell it.

    And for *that* to work, you'd have to store it under controlled, archival conditions (temperature und humidity controlled nitrogen-atmosphered storage, for instance) and have it looked at every 15 years or so to ensure that there isn't any deterioration of the mechanics going on due to lubrication oxidation and the like. Best to remove the lubrication entirely and pack the watch up with the appropriate oils and greases, sealed tightly, along with an oiling and greasing diagramm for your grandchildren's robots to understand and then restore.

    Now, I am being a tad silly here. But it's probably the only way that the Bulova you have will really gain significantly in value: by being one of the last of its kind in 50 years' time.

    I'd ignore the financial/collecting aspects and simply get it if you like it and want to wear it. It's not a style I particularly like (personal preferences: I like round watches...), but when I buy vintages, I consider the following points in deciding what to pay for a vintage watch:

    a) servicing history

    If you know the servicing history and it can be trusted, then you can increase what you'd be willing to pay by a discounted percentage of what you know it would cost to do a complete servicing of the watch by a competent watchmaker. This means that if you know that the watch was serviced, say, two years ago and it would cost *you* $120 for a complete servicing (disassembly, cleaning, reassembly with oil and grease, minor cosmetic cleaning, adjustment and regulation to manufacturer's specifications) that would extend the life of the watch for 6 years, you could pay $120/6 *2 = $40 more for the watch. If the watch has not been serviced, then you need to calculate the price you are willing to pay to include that servicing.

    b) market price

    eBay is your friend here. You can search on completed auctions and quickly find if there is a market for your watch and what that market development has been. If you can't find the exact model, you need to find something similiar to act as a proxy. Once you have a market price, you could extend that price out as a trend and see if you can view the acquisition as an investment, using an adapted cash flow formula to determine current market value and price this properly.

    c) total acquisition price

    When I acquire a vintage, I don't just view the purchase price, but try to include other costs as well.

    I'm in the process of getting a vintage military Cyma with a gold-plated calibre inside. I know that I will have to have it serviced (no records of servicing), and I use a very, very good master watchmaker who specializes in old military watches who will give this one a really nice servicing and redo the case (chrome is flaking off) for around $250. I've seen this particular one out there on commercial vendor sites for around $700 or so.

    But who wants to pay retail? I'm gonna have to go through the trouble of getting the watch, get it to the watchmaker, wait on it, and get a really nice strap for it.

    So I discount that "market" price by what I judge the markup to be (50%) and that gives my $350 to play with. I use a sniper (Bid-O-Matic: gotta love that name) on eBay, and bid roughly $100 for the watch 4 seconds before the end of the auction.

    I got it for a bit more than $65. So I'm under budget for the acquisition (always nice) and still have $285 to invest in the watch before I reach my budget limit. Knowing that I will spend the $250 on the complete overhaul means that I will be within my budget, rather than thinking I've gotten a great deal and then have sticker shock when I need to get it repaired in two years' time because I didn't take care of it, needing to spend not the $250 but more like $300 because parts needed to be replaced.

    Now this is probably more than you ever wanted to know about how to value watches, but it's been my approach and to date it's worked pretty well...

    ...and there are, of course, other reasons to buy watches besides as an investment. As a matter of fact, buying a watch as an investment is probably the last thing in my mind when I buy one: I want to wear them, not put them away in a safe!

    JohnF
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  6. #5
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova - value???

    John as usual has given the definitive economist's view of how to get a nice vintage watch at a good price.
    I have purchased Bulovas on eBay myself. I have both a 1949 rose gold plated and a 1936 black dial Bulova. Both of these cost me less than $75 each but I spent another $100 or so on each of them getting them repaired and cleaned. And I know a top notch watchmaker who works at very reasonable prices.
    The most important point both of us could make is that watch collecting should be a fun hobby, not an exercise in trying to make money.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

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    Re: Vintage Bulova - value???

    Hi -

    Amen to that: if I were trying to make money, there's a lot simpler ways of doing that...

    JohnF
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