Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Vintage Watch Buying Advice... uhm pointers...

IWC Portuguese... not exactly vintage but it looks the part don't it ;)
There are many great things to purchasing vintage watches. Some of the advantages of buying vintage include:
- getting good value for money. eg. significant movements at a reasonable price. Valjoux 72, 22. Lemania CH 27, Venus movements as some examples
- none(or less) of the marketing hoopla and limited edition bs to hype up a watch

At the same time, there are some factors to consider in your vintage watch purchase decision and here's a couple (totally non-comprehensive yuh, just some pointers :)

1. Condition... Condition... Condition...

If u havent got it already, condition is everything when buying vintage and is a key determinant in the price of a vintage watch. Always try and verify the condition of a vintage watch before you buy it. 

If the watch is in a distant land than get LOTS of pics. Its good to get pictures of the watch from multiple angles, dial side, case side, with and without its caseback and of its caseback to assess condition and if theres any corrosion on the watch you are eyeing if you can't see it in the metal.

For eg. U have yr eye on a vintage sports Rolex... U check it externally, it all looks fine but on opening the case back u see corroded metal and pitting. Now corrosion in older watches can be seen as to be expected but how much of it that's there and how much u r willing to pay for a badly corroded watch come into play. 

My advice is wait for a better example if you are faced with buying something in a shoddy state. Bad corrosion and pitting of the case for a Rolex watch should be a no-no and in terms of dial condition and hands condition, its really based on how you like the look of the aged dial/hands and what kind of condition of these are acceptable to you.

Rolex GMT 1675

2.getting access to a reliable servicer is key

these are vintage watches with vintage movements. not everyone can fix em unlike common eta work horses. So do check around and find a reasonable watch servicer who knows how to handle and fix old movements from the pocket watch variety to the vintage wristwatch movements and classic chronos as I mentioned earlier.

also try and find out when it had it's last proper service as then you know when abouts you will have to activate the reliable servicer you have found. 

Cal 321 Speedy Photobucket

Side note: Why Some authorised dealers aren't that great at times 
Some service centres just aren't setup to service vintage watches. They either don't keep the old parts long enough or they don't guarantee they won't replace your patina'ed tritium dial and hands and replace them with new superluminova replacement versions. replacement of which total wrecks any value of your vintage watch. I believe for some countries RSC actually can guarantee they won't replace the dial and hands if requested for by the owner but that it's not the case for Rolex Service Centre Singapore. 

Vintage Rolex Submariner

3. authentic and original

Authenticity is important so do get the authorised service centre or a good watch servicer who knows their stuff to check everything is as authentic and original as claimed to be. Whether the dial, hands, etc are their original parts and not touched up, redone or relumed etc, matter as well.

Replacement parts, relumed parts, take away alot of value from a pre-owned or vintage watch.

the 1st Omega Speedmaster Professional

4.what's the price

its hard to determine whats a fair price for some pieces as they seldom come up for sale. The going rate for some vintage pieces will be based on what is it you are comfortable to pay for it.

Do your research on what it transacted for in recent times if this information is available at all and factor in condition to any estimated 'market price' based on past transacted prices. eg ebay you can search by completed transactions to get a gauge on some watches. for others that don't go the ebay route, the auction houses can be a reference but some of their pricing is inflated because of brand's participation at auction. 

5.trusted sellers

It's good to get a vintage piece from a trusted seller, be it a brick and mortar, click and mortar shop or an individual seller. trusted folk will more likely tell you if anything has been done with the watch before if they are the honest sort or have a reputation to maintain.


& thats all for now. I will update this post from time to time as i continue on the journey. All the best on your next vintage/pre-owned watch purchase! :) cheers, raph

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