Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?
Like Tree1Likes

Thread: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    915

    Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Wanted to know if vintage watches are more expensive than one might suspect due to service issues.
    I recently looked at a watch on ebay which the sell clearly states they aren't responsible for any issues if
    the watch fails when serviced.

    I was a bit surprised by this, do vintage watches often fail when being serviced? If so, how expensive is it to get them fixed?

    Regards,

    Mike

  2. #2
    Member joeuk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    west yorkshire, uk
    Posts
    10,556

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    I think stems can sometimes break, but any decent watchguy can source another one. But if the movement looks in good condition a service is normally fine without any probs, and thats why you should ask for a movement pic.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    915

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Quote Originally Posted by joeuk View Post
    I think stems can sometimes break, but any decent watchguy can source another one. But if the movement looks in good condition a service is normally fine without any probs, and thats why you should ask for a movement pic.
    O.K., being a watch layman, how would I know if the movement is in good shape or not?

    Mike

  4. Remove Advertisements
    WatchUSeek.com
    Advertisements
     

  5. #4
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Great Lakes - USofA
    Posts
    18,156

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Quote Originally Posted by panamamike View Post
    O.K., being a watch layman, how would I know if the movement is in good shape or not?

    Mike
    Rust. Discolorization. If you see these, run.
    "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!

  6. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,653

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    A unserviced watch is always somewhat of a risk because what looks like a simple service can hide more extensive problems. Most of the time a watch in good condition needs only a service and perhaps a mainspring even when parts are needed they are often inexpensive. It's when you come up with problems in a watch for which the parts are scarce that you can run into expensive problems.

  7. #6
    Member georges zaslavsky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Croissy sur Seine, France
    Posts
    12,784

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Well as nsmike has said an unserviced watch can hide a lot of troubles but also some spare parts are not available anymore due to the fact that either the brand has ceased to exist or either due to the fact that thre are no more spare parts. At the end, the bill of repair is high. In the USA, there are very very few watchmakers who do great work on vintage watches.
    Omega the sign of Excellence since 1848. Jaeger Le Coultre Horlogerie de Luxe depuis 1833
    22 times Olympic games timekeeper, Nasa watch supplier and holder of several world records of precision, Omega has the world's trust
    Omega and Rolex for ever
    Eterna Nothing but Watchmaking since 1856
    Zenith Swiss Watchmaking and Chronometry champion since 1865

  8. #7
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    2,415

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    At least for old American brands, most parts are readily available if you know where to look.

    I can get parts for a Waltham made in 1880 faster and more reliably than I can for a Rolex made last year.

  9. #8
    Member Outta Time's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Port Colborne, Ontario
    Posts
    846

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Sometimes dirt and excess grease are all that's holding the watch together. Even with a movt pic, you can't see the hidden problems, although, as mentioned, rust and discolouration are a major red flag. I recently serviced an Omega 20NN pocket watch, and it had no obvious problems, but when I dismantled it, it was filthy and the dial side jewels were cracked and the jagged edges had chewed almost completely through the lower escape wheel pivot, and damaged the fourth wheel pivot also. The slightest shock would have broken both these pivots and stopped the watch dead, but it was always handled carefully by the owner. It turns out that the last 'service' it had was done by somewhat unskilled hands, as oil rolled freely under the dial and had fouled the keyless works with dirt. The 'service' was only 5 years previous.
    Bottom line, all vintage watches, especially from the Bay, are a crap shoot. Unless you can get a warranty of some kind or a return policy, you will get burned sooner or later. Always factor in the cost of a service with a vintage watch, regardless of where it's from, or regardless of any claims as to when it was last serviced.

  10. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    915

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Quote Originally Posted by Outta Time View Post
    Sometimes dirt and excess grease are all that's holding the watch together. Even with a movt pic, you can't see the hidden problems, although, as mentioned, rust and discolouration are a major red flag. I recently serviced an Omega 20NN pocket watch, and it had no obvious problems, but when I dismantled it, it was filthy and the dial side jewels were cracked and the jagged edges had chewed almost completely through the lower escape wheel pivot, and damaged the fourth wheel pivot also. The slightest shock would have broken both these pivots and stopped the watch dead, but it was always handled carefully by the owner. It turns out that the last 'service' it had was done by somewhat unskilled hands, as oil rolled freely under the dial and had fouled the keyless works with dirt. The 'service' was only 5 years previous.
    Bottom line, all vintage watches, especially from the Bay, are a crap shoot. Unless you can get a warranty of some kind or a return policy, you will get burned sooner or later. Always factor in the cost of a service with a vintage watch, regardless of where it's from, or regardless of any claims as to when it was last serviced.
    Thanks for the input, it's very informative. In the example you site, where you able to salvage the watch? If so, what does a significant fix like this cost?

    I've been looking at watches from the 40's, should I expect this kind of problem from watches of that vintage?

    Mike

  11. #10
    Member joeuk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    west yorkshire, uk
    Posts
    10,556

    Re: Vintage watches, expensive/risky to service?

    Hopefully with what as been said it does not put you off buying a vintage watch. If you don't mind adding the service cost you can have a great watch on your wrist which will last as long as you take good care of it. I have seen people on here bring back to life a really shocking watch, but once that work as been done it will run great. I will admit it myself, bought watches taken it to a watch guy I have become friendly with and he will tell me if it needs a service and I will also check out the timing of the watch as this can tell you a lot. Thats the key to me find a great watch guy who is helpful

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •