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  1. #11
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Quote Originally Posted by DC guy View Post
    Sorry for the possible hijack, but I'm in a similar situation where (thanks to WUS) I am suddenly interested in the idea of owning a vintage mechanical. But I really don't know what hidden pitfalls I should be watching for, beyond the obvious.

    For example, I came across this baby and LOVE the look:


    Nice Vintage Mens Elgin Shockmaster Automatic Wrist Watch 17J Self Winding 643 | eBay

    But it is very cheap ($150) and the seller says some not-so-great things about it: +/- 2 min/day, not 100% original, no guarantees, get it serviced.

    At this price, the accuracy and originality don't matter to me. But could this thing end up costing me hundreds of dollars more just to keep it running? If I wear it just a few times a year and don't leave it on a winder, will that accelerate or delay the need for maintenance?

    Sorry for the newbie Q's. Feel free to redirect me to a sticky/website with relevant 101.

    --DC guy
    Way to much for that one. I sold one almost exactly the same a few months ago for around $65 and it was in very good shape. $150 for a sketchy one is waaaaaay too much.

  2. #12
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Thanks for all the feedback guys, it has been really helpful. However, I dont know if going vintage is the best route, my budget seems to be shrinking daily as I am retooling my collection and have been buying more than regular lately, and in the near future. With servicing and other risks associated with vintage, I seem to be leaning into new, although far less interesting. It seems my budget has shrunk to about $200, taking into account I need to have $ to service and possibly clean it up a bit, maybe put a new crystal on it. Anymore recommendations?

  3. #13
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Quote Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback guys, it has been really helpful. However, I dont know if going vintage is the best route, my budget seems to be shrinking daily as I am retooling my collection and have been buying more than regular lately, and in the near future. With servicing and other risks associated with vintage, I seem to be leaning into new, although far less interesting. It seems my budget has shrunk to about $200, taking into account I need to have $ to service and possibly clean it up a bit, maybe put a new crystal on it. Anymore recommendations?
    Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


    Yes. Stop buying more watches for a year or two.

    Use that time to identify what watch(s) you really, really want, why you want them, and what you should likely expect re: availability and realistic servicing/restoration. If all you know right now is you want it to be a vintage watch, fine. Start using bits and pieces of your free time, not ours, to figure out what vintage watch you want. Remember, the basis for a watch being "the one" is that it is the most gratifying watch you can plausibly buy for yourself. If "the one" really isn't that, then you need to keep looking for "the one," not buying other watches that you also know aren't "the one."

    Once have identified a watch you really want, don't buy any other watch until you have that one. The reality is that unless you have substantively unlimited funds -- i.e., you are "loaded" or you every month generate thousands of dollars in truly disposable income -- every watch you buy before getting "the one" put you that much farther away from actually acquiring "the one." In other words, don't run off "half cocked" buying non-vintage watches if you really want a vintage watch. Just be patient. The right watch, at the right price and state of repair will come along, and if you haven't bought all those other watches, you'll have the money to buy it (and restore it if need be) when it does.

    I can't tell you why Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos (the Moirai) operate like that. I just know from my years that they do.

    Note also that there's no point in defining a watch you'll never be able and willing to pay for as "the one." If you're going to do that, you may as well admit to yourself right now that you don't want to collect watches and save yourself the time, effort angst, etc. of even thinking about watches as more than just something different than a new shirt, pair of shoes or jeans. If that's in fact where your head and heart are re: watches, fine; there's nothing wrong with that.

    All the best.


    Sometimes life has a cruel sense of humor, giving you the thing you always wanted at the worst time possible.
    ― Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy
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    Cheers,
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  5. #14
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Quote Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback guys, it has been really helpful. However, I dont know if going vintage is the best route, my budget seems to be shrinking daily as I am retooling my collection and have been buying more than regular lately, and in the near future. With servicing and other risks associated with vintage, I seem to be leaning into new, although far less interesting. It seems my budget has shrunk to about $200, taking into account I need to have $ to service and possibly clean it up a bit, maybe put a new crystal on it. Anymore recommendations?
    Where do you live? If you are in the US, that budget will buy you an extremely nice vintage watch on eBay. That kind of money gets you a killer Hamilton, Bulova, Lord Elgin, Waltham, Helbros or Benrus. Take your time, ask a ton of questions, make sure the pics are numerous and clear and that your seller has some kind of return policy even though you are covered by the eBay money back guarantee. Many of the watches in that price range will already be serviced and ready to go. Not all of course, but a lot will. I buy 20 watches in this prices range a month from eBay and have had really good luck (since I am careful).
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  6. #15
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Totally agree with Scott. Gold can be garish and obnoxious when done poorly or in abundance, or it can be understated but classy if done right. And since it is not the height of fashion right now, you can find some good deals on gold vintage pieces. Omega, Hamilton, Tissot, Longines. All great choices.
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  7. #16
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Thanks to Bodyblue and tony20009 for the sage advice. After my post, I did find and read some of the vintage watch buying education articles in Links and Articles.

    Following that guidance, I looked up some eBay comps and found that, yes, $150 is two or three times more than what other recently serviced, excellent condition Elgins sell for. Glad I did the homework. I don't know why this seller marked this one up so much... he has lots of other Elgins and other vintage watches at the "correct" price range.

    --DC guy
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  8. #17
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Quote Originally Posted by DC guy View Post
    Thanks to Bodyblue and tony20009 for the sage advice. After my post, I did find and read some of the vintage watch buying education articles in Links and Articles.

    Following that guidance, I looked up some eBay comps and found that, yes, $150 is two or three times more than what other recently serviced, excellent condition Elgins sell for. Glad I did the homework. I don't know why this seller marked this one up so much... he has lots of other Elgins and other vintage watches at the "correct" price range.

    --DC guy
    You're welcome. I'm glad the info provided was helpful to you.

    Truly, when you see things such as you did, having done your homework, you are in a position to ask the seller "why?" and tell for yourself whether their answer makes sense. Sometimes, because I know not everything there is to know is necessarily found in the reference sources I've reviewed, I ask the seller "why" even though I have no intention of buying the item. Sometimes it's just that that's the sum the seller wants, other times I learn something about the item that I didn't know was or could have been so...mind you, I still take the "trust but verify" approach with regard to the seller's comments.

    All the best.
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    Good judgment comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment.
    ― A.A. Milne







  9. #18
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    Re: Wanting a vintage dress watch - First time buying vintage

    Quote Originally Posted by DC guy View Post
    Thanks to Bodyblue and tony20009 for the sage advice. After my post, I did find and read some of the vintage watch buying education articles in Links and Articles.

    Following that guidance, I looked up some eBay comps and found that, yes, $150 is two or three times more than what other recently serviced, excellent condition Elgins sell for. Glad I did the homework. I don't know why this seller marked this one up so much... he has lots of other Elgins and other vintage watches at the "correct" price range.

    --DC guy
    Very Welcome! I ma sure you saw what totally cool units you can get for $200! Heck, a pretty decent to excellent Accutron can be had for that if you really want to be cool AND different! :)

    PS If an Elgin has a stylized "E" on the face, its not a real Elgin......just the name that was bought. Elgin shut down all its American factories and offices in 1968.
    Last edited by Bodyblue; February 13th, 2015 at 22:17.
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  10. #19
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    Quick follow up... With much patience, I managed to nab another Elgin Shockmaster w/ sunburst dial for $67. So glad you guys convinced me not to spend $150 on the first one!

    The watch came on a broken bracelet, so I could not wear it until a replacement band arrived last night. Some of you saw me walking around sheepishly with the naked watch head in my palm at last weekend's DC get together.

    Anyway, here she is on a gator grain band. Not quite what I wanted, so I just ordered a flat lizard strap today. BTW, 17mm bands are hard to find, and impossible in a short length.

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    The watch winds and runs smoothly, though it loses ~10 min/day. Good thing I budgeted for servicing when I bid on it.

    --DC guy
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    Last edited by DC guy; March 11th, 2015 at 01:06.
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