What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the back?
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  1. #1
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    What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the back?

    Such as watches that were gifts from a family member showing the name etc. Do you leave it as it is or you get a dremel and scratch it out?

  2. #2
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    Leave it be maybe one day when your dead a great great grandson will buy the watch of the person inscripted on the back and treasure it, besides nobody looks at the back of the watch when it's on your wrist.

  3. #3
    Member HamiltonElectric's Avatar
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    I've been dealing in vintage watches for decades. There are three very distinct schools of thought on engraved watches. Many (maybe most) collectors refuse to buy any watch with an engraved dedication. A much smaller group doesn't care. An even smaller group -- which includes myself -- prizes them and actively seeks them out. To me, they add history to the piece, even if that history is a total mystery. I have a 14K solid rose gold Hamilton "Brock" marked "M.J.M to M.M. Dec. 25, 1941". I wish I knew who those people were, but I can surmise they were probably married, and that the wife loved her husband enough to spend a small fortune on a gorgeous watch as a Christmas gift. What happened to M.M.? Did he go to war the next year? Did he survive? I have no clue, but I love that mysterious inscription. I have worn that watch every Christmas for 20 years. My own ritual.

    I've had many watches with far more detailed dedications specifying who, where, when, and why. They're great too. Sometimes I can even find out details with Google.

    But the bottom line is that it's your choice. Personally, I would never in a million years grind off an engraving. But I totally understand that some of my customers don't buy any engraved watches. That's fine. I reserve those for the people who like them.

    Different strokes. My advice is don't buy them if you don't like them. That goes for any watch.
    Last edited by HamiltonElectric; August 27th, 2012 at 05:34.
    Marrick, john87300, redcow and 6 others like this.

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  5. #4
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    To me, the engravings are part of the history of the watch, like the watchmakers' marks inside the caseback. And when it's on your wrist, nobody sees them anyway.

    I suppose the reduce the value, if most collectors won't buy a watch with engravings, but there's no way to remove them without seriously removing a lot of metal. In the case of gold or gold filled cases, you're literally grinding away money, and it won't leave an original looking caseback. So, your choice is between a personalization that may mean nothing to you, and a scratched up caseback that probably looks worse.
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    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    I appreciate the engravings for what they are. As Rene says above, they're part of the history of the watch and add to it even if the owner was no one of significance.

    Plus, many of the engravings(particularly the retirement and award presentations) are works of art in their own right and there are very few craftsmen capable of doing that kind of work today.

    I love original period engravings, but detest watches that have been destroyed by having the engraving removed.

    With all that said, though, I'm morally opposed to modern engravings on antique watches!
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    Quote Originally Posted by TimeWanderer View Post
    Such as watches that were gifts from a family member showing the name etc. Do you leave it as it is or you get a dremel and scratch it out?
    I try to find out the first owner and give a history to the watch.

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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    Engravings are not my prefernce but i would just wear it.

    If you shave off enough metal to remove most inscriptions you will have destroyed any value the watch had and posibly killed the integrity of the case until you replace the watchback (if possible).

    If it bothers you don't buy it.

  9. #8
    Member jackruff's Avatar
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    I purchased a King Seiko a few years back with an engraved back written in Japanese… Initially I was reluctant….. then I thought about it…… It was a special watch given to a special person on a special occasion…..A particular Japanese product that meant something………………It's something now I enjoy about the history of such a unique watch.....
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  10. #9
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    I enjoy the engravings. I like the history that they add. It makes me a little sad then I buy one from a family member. You know...grandkid selling grandpa's watch that he got for Christmas in 1936 - usually for less than a tank of gas. But it is their decision.

    Plus, many of the engravings(particularly the retirement and award presentations) are works of art in their own right and there are very few craftsmen capable of doing that kind of work today.
    A good point. My father was an engraver - one of the last (if not the last) hammer and chisel guys in his industry... There are some beautiful examples of the engraver's art preserved on the backs of watches.
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  11. #10
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    Re: What do you do when you buy a used vintage watch and it has a personalized inscription on the ba

    I like finding watches with engravings. It adds a nice little bit of history to the watch





    I agree with Ben, modern engraving on a vintage watch should not be done

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