Vintage watches are steadily gaining in popularity. It's not hard to see why: they're the perfect way to add a touch of personality and history to a look. But with the market becoming more and more crowded, how do you go about buying a vintage watch that's right for you? We'll walk you through the process, from finding a reputable seller to inspecting the watch for authenticity.
Vintage watches are a great option for anyone looking for a unique timepiece. With so many mass-produced watches on the market today, it can be nice to find something with a bit of history behind it. Not to mention, vintage watches generally cost a fraction of the price of newer models. If you have $3,000 to spend, you could drive down to Bloomingdale’s and walk out with a quartz TAG Heuer or Longines that would serve you well for many years. Or you could buy a 1962 LeCoultre Memovox with an in-house manufacture movement featuring a mechanical alarm complication from one of the most respected names in watchmaking. The latter watch will be more unique, garnering a lot more looks and compliments than a TAG that half your co-workers are wearing; on top of that, it will likely increase in value over time.
What to Expect from a Vintage Watch
Owning a vintage watch is like owning a piece of history. There is a story behind every timepiece, and you are often forming a relationship with your watch. Each one has its own unique character and quirks. Unlike mass-produced modern watches (and automobiles), vintage watches are not all exactly the same. Yes, they may not be as accurate as a quartz watch, but that doesn't matter. What you're really looking for in a vintage piece is the individualism and soul that you just can't find in a modern watch. When you buy a vintage watch, be prepared to form a bond with it and to care for it like it's your own child. It's important to note that vintage watches will never be as accurate as a modern piece, but that doesn't matter. What you're really looking for in a vintage piece is the individualism and soul that you just can't find in a modern watch.
The vintage watch market is a tricky place, fraught with counterfeits, so-called "frankenwatches", and unscrupulous sellers. That's why it's so important to do your homework before making a purchase. Start by talking to other collectors, joining web forums, and asking questions. Post photos of the watch you're interested in and solicit feedback from seasoned collectors. Sites like the Vintage Rolex Forum and the Military Watch Resource are great places to start, as are HODINKEE and On the Dash. These websites are chock-full of information on all things vintage watches, so you can learn everything you need to know before buying.
Hands-on inspection is key when vintage shopping. Condition is the biggest differentiator in vintage watches and can mean the difference between a $4,000 watch and a $7,000 one. You might be surprised to learn that, when buying a vintage watch, original condition is paramount. This means that scratches and wear are expected and actually add to the watch's character (as long as they're not excessive). Does the lume on the dial match that on the hands? If not, chances are the hands have been replaced at some point (a big no-no in the vintage world). Are the edges of the case smooth or sharp? It's better to have a watch with its original finish, despite the scratches that come with age, rather than one that was polished to death. In the end, it's all about finding that perfect piece—so don't be afraid to ask questions and get your hands dirty.
Check the serial number.
Many people think that a serial number can only be used to find a watch’s age, but this isn’t the only thing you can use it for. The number can also help you determine whether or not a watch is fake. If the number on the watch case doesn’t match the number on the movement, it’s likely that you’re looking at a Frankenwatch. These are watches that have been put together using mismatched or replaced parts, in an attempt to make them look more presentable (or even pass them off as genuine). If you’re looking for a cool old watch to wear, Frankenwatches can be a great bargain. However, you should always be aware of what you’re buying and make sure that everything is in working order.
Buy the seller.
When it comes to vintage watches, you really do get what you pay for. With so many fakes and replica watches on the market, buying a vintage watch can be a daunting task. But, if you buy the seller, you can avoid most of these problems. Get references from the seller and ask for a “proof photo” of the watch you want to buy. This is a photo taken of the watch on that day’s newspaper to ensure that it is the real deal. There are numerous watch sale forums online, but there are also reputable individual dealers, both local and online. While they tend to be more expensive, they also tend to sell better products. Analog/Shift and Matthew Bain Inc. are good examples of dealers that can help you, for the right price.
Some of the popular vintage watch on amazon
Vintage watches are becoming increasingly popular for their character, quality, and history. If you're looking to buy a vintage watch, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure you understand why you're buying a vintage watch and what to expect. Next, get hands-on and inspect the watch closely. Finally, make sure to check the serial number to ensure you're getting the real deal. With a little knowledge and caution, buying a vintage watch can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
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