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What should I consider when purchasing a vintage watch?

August 11 2021

Searching for information and comparing prices from a large selection of watches is part of the watch buying experience. This also includes checking the price. To avoid purchasing a fake, the following rule applies: If the price is unrealistically low, then you should proceed with caution. There should always be a clear reason given if a watch is either much more or much less expensive than comparable models. Thus, an Omega Seamaster for three figures shouldn't raise any suspicion. A Rolex Submariner at that price, however, should raise alarm, as Submariners are usually much more expensive.

Knowing whether a watch is being offered at a fair price requires experience and expertise. Watch magazines and websites can provide you with a lot of helpful information. You can also ask questions on watch forums and receive competent, informed answers from experts.

The price structure of the vintage watch market can be a bit tricky to understand for the average person. For example, a somewhat damaged-looking watch can be much more valuable than a similar watch in almost perfect condition. This is because the original condition of the watch is what matters most. It's not a big deal if there are signs of wear and tear.

Prices also increase when a watch is sold with its box and papers. The original packaging and documents from the manufacturer and dealer are all part of the original purchase. They serve as important proof that the offered timepiece really is the correct one. However, watches without their box and papers cannot be avoided. There is usually a simple and understandable reason for the lack of box and other accompanying materials: They couldn't be found and were likely thrown out at some point by the original owner.

If you don't have the time or you're simply not interested in immersing yourself deeply in the subject, then you're much better off depending on a serious dealer. A dealer can offer you a watch that they have inspected at a fair price.

Watches without previous inspection are also offered, mostly by private sellers. In these cases, it's a good idea to have a bit of money on hand for any necessary maintenance. Even a simple inspection or repair can cost around 200 USD. When you buy a vintage diving watch, you should have its water resistance checked and exchange the gaskets if you want to wear the watch underwater.