Service for inherited vintage watches

Thread: Service for inherited vintage watches

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019

    Service for inherited vintage watches

    I have received, by way of inheritance, a collection of vintage watches, and am interested in the experience forum members have had with service from luxury watch makers.

    These watches are probably from the 1940s and 1950s, and have spent the last fifty years in the desk drawer. They include an Audemars wristwatch and a Vacheron Constantin triple date wristwatch, and four pocket watches, including a Vacheron, Patek Philippe, Tiffany and one without a name.

    Somewhat bowled over by this. My stepfather was an attorney and did estates work, and was very very close friends with some old very recognizable NYC retail men, which is where these came from. I regard these watches as something for the family to hang onto, and want to gift the wristwatches to a young couple getting married. (The Audemars could easily be worn by a woman.) I intend to get them serviced, full cleaning etc, which I know will be very pricey, but worth it I think. Closest to me in terms of distance are a Swiss watch repair service in Ottawa Canada apparently recommended by Audemars, and a Montreal boutique for vacheron. I’m in the U.S. but those are the closest spots.

    What experiences have AP and VC owners had with service and what would forum members recommend?

    thank you. Tim

  2. #2
    Member Spangles's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    The high seas
    You should come to NYC and talk to my watchmaker. He's the guy Philips takes multimillion dollar vintage watches to when they need a look-over by an expert. He also loves watches himself and treats them right.

    You can and will lose most of the value of the watches sending them to just anybody the brand recommends. The level of service is often terrible and horror stories of watches coming back scratched and broken are common.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018

    Re: Service for inherited vintage watches

    Quote Originally Posted by Spangles View Post
    You can and will lose most of the value of the watches sending them to just anybody the brand recommends. The level of service is often terrible and horror stories of watches coming back scratched and broken are common.
    +1 to this. Brands often replace with new (or NOS) parts, making the watch "like new." Collectors usually want original. It is a bit like the difference between completely gutting an old house and making it into a new "open concept" home, and lovingly restoring it to its historic splendor. That said, without details of the watches, it is hard to know if they are valuable from an economic standpoint. If so, keep them original and go with someone like Spangles' guy. If, however, they are less valuable examples, and if you simply want to use them as everyday wearers, you may be OK going with the manufacturer-recommended repair services.

    If you share pictures, people with more knowledge than me here on WUS may be able give you background on the watches. Although people are unable to provide any kind of appraisal, you might receive more accurate guidance. Plus, as watch geeks, we love pictures of interesting watches! I wish you the joy of your watches!

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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Maine, USA

    Re: Service for inherited vintage watches

    Tim 1947...Hello.

    Here's a quick thought today: there are many Independent Watchmakers in the USA who work on watches such as yours every day. In a real, mechanical sense, a watch is a watch, be it a Timex or a Rolex or a Benrus or a Blancpain. If the person 'at the bench' uses good tools and good common sense, Servicing, say, a time-only Rolex is surprisingly (!) similar to accomplishing the same task on many an other Brand.

    Of course--as you'll hear from others here--there are situations in which parts are either not available, or very difficult to source, and it's in these situations that a Factory Service can save the day.

    Still: I'm always a bit surprised to see some of the prices quoted for Factory least, for what I've long recognized as a Service: cleaning / lubrication / regulation. Independent watchmakers have been doing this work for several generations...they know their stuff!

    So: if cost is little or no object, go with a Factory job...I hear that the major manufacturers are very good at it.

    Yet: if you do a bit of research & discover an Independent shop you feel good about ( emotions count! ), perhaps the many-hundreds-of-dollars that you will not spend on a Factory Service, could be directed elsewhere...

    Where? Well, charitable folks always find a Good Cause...right?


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