A Few Tips on Buying and Collecting Vintage Wrist Watches

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Buying and collecting vintage wrist watches can be quite stressful, especially if you have not yet learned about them or are just learning now. But it can often be a fun endeavor once you get the hang of it. Most watches have a unique history and you will be quite surprised by all of the features and complications that were available in days gone by. The pioneer watch makers have set the stage for some of the most advanced “movements” (gears and pinions inside a watch) that the world has ever seen.

So what type of vintage wrist watch should you purchase?

That depends on quite a few things: taste, money you are willing to spend, time you want to take repairing your watch i.e., time period. I would recommend that if you are starting out, you stick with good quality brands. For example Hamilton and Citizen would be a great place to begin. They have always made great watches and have a great reputation in the watch community.

What are your tastes when it comes to vintage wrist watches?

Do you like old chronographs (stop watches) or are you into say, moon phase watches? My personal favorite is the basic analog, no frills watches that simply tells the time. Another popular style is the old retrograde jump-hour watches. You can get very nice jump-grade watches from the 50’s. The point is to pick a style that you like.

How much money are you willing to spend?

Finances will often limit you as to as far as what type of watch you can buy. But do not get discouraged–a lot of vintage watches are cheaper than the newer ones. For example, a Zenith vintage wrist watch will range between $100-$2000. A new Zenith will cost you upwards of $5000-$20,000. Most American vintage wrist watches, like Hamilton will be much cheaper. I would start with American watches before I moved on to Swiss watches.

The next thing you want to take into account is the condition the watch is is in.

Some clues are the case and if there are particles in the movement. Can you see the serial number on the watch? These things are very important because they affect the value of your vintage wrist watch.

Time period is the final thing that I would consider when shopping for a vintage wrist watch.

Usually the farther back it goes, the simpler the movement. This will affect many things, like how you clean it and take it apart. Be very careful when you take it apart, and be very careful when cleaning your watch, as it it’s very easy to do damage to it. I would recommend messing around with clocks before I would start with wrist watches.

Remember the most important thing you can do before you buy is research. There are many options. Go on-line or go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a catalog book on it, or browse through an auction website like eBay. You will find all sorts of styles, that you will not know where to start!