Watch Grading System - with a chart!
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  1. #1
    Member brashboy's Avatar
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    Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Taken from TimeZone and a couple of other grading systems. The text descriptions in these grading systems don't help me much. I'm always flipping back and forth to look at the criteria. Does a watch have to be running to rate GOOD? Does it have to be fully original to rate VG? You get the point... aahh, but a chart!

    Does this chart make sense to everyone? I think it is accurate but welcome suggestions. Also welcome additions to correct or flesh out the criteria.

    Master Grading Chart
    Grade
    Originality
    Gen. Condition
    DNS*
    Runs
    Timekeeping
    Comments
    Overall Cond.
    New
    100%
    New, flawless.
    None
    Yes
    Working perfectly, needs no service or regulation.
    Watch is unworn.
    100%
    LNIB
    100%
    Flawless
    None
    Yes
    Working perfectly, needs no service or regulation.
    Watch looks to be unworn.
    100%
    Mint
    100%
    Almost flawless; may have been expertly restored or repaired.
    Eye-clean; need loupe to see scratches. No dings/nicks.
    Yes
    Working perfectly, needs no service or regulation.
    Very little use;
    98-99%
    Near Mint
    100%
    Minor handling blemishes.
    Eye-clean; need loupe to see any scratches. No dings or nicks.
    Yes
    Working perfectly, needs no service or regulation.
    May not be Mint b/c missing box & papers.
    93-97%
    Excellent
    100%; maybe some OEM replacements.
    Evident wear to naked eye on head & bracelet.
    Scratches are light, more numerous than near mint. No dings or nicks.
    Yes
    Working perfectly, needs no service or regulation.
    Looks to have been used very little.
    88-92%
    Very Good
    Original case, dial & movement. May have replacement crystal, hands. Any redial is of high quality.
    Movement may have minor stain but only minor scratches. Dial may need refinishing.
    Scratches are evident to the eye. No dings or nicks.
    Yes
    Keeps good time, but may need minor regulation or routine servicing.
    Shows normal wear by a careful owner, no abuse.
    83-87%
    Good
    Case and movement are original. May not have all original parts. No pieces are missing.
    No brassing. May have low-quality redial. Original dial may have hairline marks that are difficult to see but don't need a loupe. No rust or chipping on the dial.
    Case may show dings, nicks or deep scratches, but dings and nicks not deep or through the plating.
    Yes
    May need routine servicing or regulation.
    Wear evident
    77-82%
    Fair
    Dial, case & movement may not be original, No pieces are missing.
    Dial, case and movement show wear. Dial may have hairline marks and small chips. May see rust in movement. May show light brassing or corrosion.
    There may be many dings, nicks and scratches, not too deep.
    Yes, but perhaps not well.
    May require service or even restoration. Not junk but needs lots of work to be made wearable.
    Cosmetically rough, shows abuse. Often a working watch.
    72-76%
    Poor
    May have missing or many non-original parts. May need replacement of dial, crystal or movement parts.
    Dial may have serious staining, rust or chips. Crystal may have deep scratches or chips, may be discolored. May see rust, brassing or plate flaking.
    There may be deep dings, nicks and scratches. Case is severely worn.
    NO
    May require complete restoration or new movement.
    Shows major damage or wear. Cosmetically very rough.
    66-71%
    Scrap
    A collection of parts. Some pieces usually missing.
    Movement shows some rust or corrosion. Case shows brassing and rust.
    May have significant dings, nicks & scratches.
    NO
    May require complete restoration or new movement.
    Many would call it junk.
    < 66%
    * Dings, nicks and scratches. Scratches are more common than DN and usually happen much faster. Dings and nicks are signs of banging the watch around a lot or a LOT of wrist time.

    I don't find the overall condition percentages too helpful. Could a watch's overall condition be 92.5 but not quite 93%? Hmmm. Makes more sense to me to use the condition and originality criteria.

    What do you think? Comments welcome, no flame suit required.

    brash
    Last edited by brashboy; February 12th, 2013 at 19:51. Reason: Changed DNS descriptions for EXC and VG to indicate no dings or nicks.
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  2. #2
    Member ed21x's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    i've seen people describe their watches as "TZ 97%" only to see the pictures of extremely scratched up bezels, bands, wrist gunk on the bottom, etc... in the end, pictures are what matter the most.
    Bidle, 440saw and nakedjohnny like this.
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  3. #3
    Member Noobheure's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Now I understand what it means when it says "93-94%" "98% !"

    I thought it was some sort of scaling system but I was like, "ummm how is 94-96-70% supposed to help me ?" but now it all makes sens !

    Thanks !

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  5. #4
    Member brashboy's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Quote Originally Posted by ed21x View Post
    i've seen people describe their watches as "TZ 97%" only to see the pictures of extremely scratched up bezels, bands, wrist gunk on the bottom, etc... in the end, pictures are what matter the most.
    Yeah, there is a lot of inflation on grading.

  6. #5
    Member brashboy's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Quote Originally Posted by Noobheure View Post
    I thought it was some sort of scaling system but I was like, "ummm how is 94-96-70% supposed to help me ?" but now it all makes sens !

    Thanks !
    The percentages make little sense to me, either, except for the higher grades. A collection of parts is 65% and below, for example; but GOOD is 77-82%. Really? 12 points higher for a GOOD watch than a handful of parts?

    Can you see two guys arguing - - no way that watch is 74%, it's not a hair over 71! The text descriptions are more helpful. If a watch merits GOOD, for example, it better be running and keeping time, even if it needs routine servicing or even regulation.
    Last edited by brashboy; February 13th, 2013 at 01:22.

  7. #6
    Member R.Palace's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Quote Originally Posted by brashboy View Post
    Yeah, there is a lot of inflation on grading.
    x2

  8. #7
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    I'm a regular seller both on Ebay and on message boards(although not here, as there's not much of a market for the kind of stuff I sell here).

    I've never used a grading system for watches, and most of my friends who sell the same kind of stuff as I do don't use one either. In fact, most of us detest grading systems, and wouldn't use one even if there was a standard.

    Watches are a very complex subject, and IMO it's far more effective to just give a good description of everything that's wrong rather than try to box them into artificial categories that describe the condition less effectively than my descriptions do.

    I combine this with good, clear pictures and I've had happy buyers!

    To give an idea of what I'm talking about, here's the text of my description from a recent Ebay sale.

    You are bidding on an Elgin 18 size, 21j 3/4 plate Father Time grade watch.

    The movement runs, although the amplitude is a bit low and it would probably benefit from cleaning. The watch consistently ran about 1 min/day fast when running, but kept close time within a minute or so when I carried it for a few days(I'm guessing that the poise is probably off, although I didn't put it on the timing machine). There's a little bit of corrosion on the winding wheels and on the regulator scale. There are several bad scratches around one of the case screws.

    The case is not original to the movement, although it is a "thin" model case that will only hold one of these 3/4 plate movements and not a standard full plate. The crystal is glass and looks good. There is an inlaid train on the back, although it's badly worn. The back and bezel screw on and off smoothly. There are a couple of edge dings.

    The double sunk dial is beautiful. The only issue I see is a forked hairline under the second bit through the 30 minute marker. The hands are a nice, bright blue with a bit of corrosion on the spade of the minute hand.
    And, here's another website that I think offers the gold standard in descriptions without using grades: FHwatch

    (disclaimer: I know Fred personally and consider him to be a friend, although I've also bought a whole lot of watches from him over the years I've been collecting)
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
    Member, NAWCC Chapter 149. Vice President and Secretary NAWCC Chapter 140. Member, NAWCC Convention Committee.
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  9. #8
    Member bluloo's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Quote Originally Posted by brashboy View Post
    Yeah, there is a lot of inflation on grading.
    I try to do the opposite. That way, (hopefully) the buyer isn't disappointed, even if they're more critical.

    I've seen more watches that were rated "90%" or "nearly perfect" etc., that needed a cosmetic restoration, than I care to mention - unfortunately.

    Good macro pics are a must, when either buying or selling, IMO. They can go a long way toward clearing up potential discrepancies between subjective grading.

    I like the TZ system, because it offers something against which to judge the watch's condition. There will always be subjective differences in grading so, as always, buy the seller then, the watch.

  10. #9
    Member gpension's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Actually, I think this chart would just create confusion, as it differs from the TZ grading. Using TZ, there should be no nicks or dings until something is graded as "good". Since they use the same descriptors, and percentages, changing the actual requirements doesn't make sense to me. That being said, many sellers grade there watch as "95% excellent", and then it shows up with a ding....
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  11. #10
    Member brashboy's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Grading System - with a chart!

    Quote Originally Posted by gpension View Post
    Actually, I think this chart would just create confusion, as it differs from the TZ grading. Using TZ, there should be no nicks or dings until something is graded as "good". Since they use the same descriptors, and percentages, changing the actual requirements doesn't make sense to me. That being said, many sellers grade there watch as "95% excellent", and then it shows up with a ding....
    Good point; I fixed the DNS column to show no dings or nicks until GOOD. Other grading systems allow them as long as the D&N are only visible with a loupe. No dings or nicks AT ALL is a pretty high standard for a VG watch! Thanks for the comment.

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