buying vintage watches

Your Guide To Buying Vintage Watches

Are you interested in learning more about buying vintage watches?

Have you always felt that few things are more dapper than a classic wristwatch?

Looking to upgrade your accessories game to impress the ladies in your life?

If so, then you need to read on.

In this post, we’ll help you to learn more about how to buy a watch within the vintage market.

We’ll also help you to learn more about vintage watches in general, as well as educate you on the red flags to look out for that indicate that you might have a fake on your hands.

Keep on reading to become a vintage watch aficionado.

Choose the Right Movement

When you’re interesting in learning more about how to buy a watch — vintage or not — you first need to figure out which watch most closely matches with your lifestyle.

There are countless factors and styles that you’ll need to take into consideration. In short, don’t buy a watch solely because you like the way it looks.

You’ll need to get to know the movement of the watch (how its inner and outer mechanisms work to move the hands.)

In general, there are three types of “movements.”

Mechanical Movement

If you choose a mechanical movement watch, you’ll need to wind it by hand. This means that you’ll never need a battery, and that the hands will move in a sweeping motion.

When you’re looking to buy vintage watches, you’ll notice that the majority of them are mechanical options.

Of course, mechanical options can’t be exposed to any sort of moisture, dirt, or rough movements. Think of these as the watches you wear to work or special events. Note that mechanical watches will also come with a higher cost than other options.

Automatic Movement

You could also choose a watch with an automatic movement. Though similar to mechanical watches, you don’t have to wind these watches by hand.

Interestingly, you wind the watch yourself by simply moving about while wearing it. Some people choose to shake the watch before putting it on to give it a jumpstart, but if you’re buying vintage watches, this isn’t recommended.

You also won’t need a battery, and will get the same smooth movement as with a mechanical watch. However, you’ll need to invest in a watch winder to ensure that, when you’re not wearing the watch, it stays wound.

In learning more about vintage watches, you’ll quickly realize that the majority of models are either automatic or mechanical.

Quartz Movement

If you’re interested in buying vintage watches, you likely won’t run into too many quartz watches.

In fact, vintages watches that rely on quartz movement — AKA a battery — to run are a good sign that you may be dealing with a fake.

Essentially, the battery inside the watch causes a tiny quartz crystal inside the mechanisms to vibrate rapidly, which helps to move the hands of the watch. If a watch has a “tick tock” movement with a pause between each second, it’s a quartz watch.

These are incredibly affordable, durable, and always tell time with complete accuracy.

However, they certainly don’t have the character of a vintage watch.

Buying Vintage Watches: Selecting a Style

Now that you know about the most common mechanisms of a vintage watch, let’s quickly go over popular watch styles.

This will help you to learn how to buy a watch from the vintage market that’s authentic according to the period it was (allegedly) created in.

It will also help you to make sure that you’re buying vintage watches that go with your wardrobe.

The Dress Watch

One of the most common styles of vintage watch is the dress watch. This was first created in the early 1900s, and it was worn by wealthy men who wanted to transition away from the traditional pocket watch.

It’s usually on the thinner side, and is encased in silver or gold. The case itself is usually circular or even rectangular. The faces of these watches will have Roman numerals or traditional numbers.

The band is always made from leather. So, if a seller is trying to convince you to buy a vintage dress watch with a metal band? It’s likely a fake.

The Pilot Watch

Another popular style of vintage watch is the pilot watch — also referred to as the astronaut or aviator watch.

These were first born in the early 1900s, and, as the name suggests, were created to help pilots and aviators keep time. In addition to the time, the watches also come with chronographs, which helped pilots track their distance, their speed, and how much fuel they’d used.

One of the most treasured vintage pilot watches is the Breitling Chronomat, which was first created in the 1940s for pilots fighting in World War Two.

These watches are defined by their large face and numerals, black dials with white letters, and generally leather band. The bands will be thicker than usual because the original plan was to have pilots wear it over a jacket cuff.

The Racing Watch

Racing watches are a huge part of the vintage watch scene, and were in fact how the definitive watchmaker, Rolex, got its start.

TAG Heuer was also a famous creator of the racing watch, because it updated Rolex’s model to include a chronograph to help drivers check their fuel levels and get a more accurate time.

The case here will be heavier and more durable than other options, and is created from stainless steel in order to stand up to the bumps on the road.

You can expect either a metal or a leather band on this watch.

The most iconic vintage racing watch is likely the Rolex Oyster, which was first made in the 1930s.

How to buy a Watch in the Vintage Market

Now that you know more about the different styles and types of vintage watches, let’s discuss how to buy a watch in the vintage market without getting taken for a ride.

1. Do your Research

When you spot a vintage watch that you like online or in a store, you need to do your research in order to learn more about it.

First of all, what is the average value of the watch? If it’s going for much more or for much less, you’re likely dealing with a fake. In some cases, however, a higher price may indicate a unique story, edition, or previous owner that impacts the value.

Contact the seller to understand if it will be worth the higher price tag.

Also, be sure to take a look at the company and the model of the watch, along with the year in which it was made. Make sure that the company actually made that type and style of watch during the year in which the seller is claiming it was created.

2. Ask About Paperwork

If you want to learn how to buy a watch the right way, always look for sellers that offer you a certificate of authentication. They should also give you a warranty, that will allow you to return the watch if it’s found to be a fake.

In addition to a certificate of authentication, you can also check on the serial number of the watch itself.

If the serial number and the case don’t match up, the watch may not be a complete fake. Instead, the seller may have had to replace older or broken parts with newer ones. Always ask about which parts of the watch have been upgraded or replaced.

It’s a great way to get a wonderful deal when buying vintage watches!

3. Buy Only From Reputable Sellers

Making sure that the dealer you’re buying from has a great reputation in the watch world is absolutely essential.

Read online reviews, ask for references, and take a look through their inventory and price points to get a feel for their expertise.

For an example of what a qualified and reliable online watch seller looks like, check out the Watches of Wales website.

When you’re learning more about vintage watches, makes sure that you also ask your seller for a proof photo of the watch you’re interested in.

This means that the seller will send you a picture of the watch with the day’s newspaper or another photo indicating the date, alongside a handwritten note from the seller.

If you’re still not convinced, you can also get in touch with the watch manufacturer to see if the details line up.

Buying Vintage Watches: Wrapping Things Up

As you can see from this post, it’s quite easy for your interest in buying vintage watches to turn into a full-blown obsession!

No matter the mechanism, style, or story behind it, the best watch to buy is the one that speaks to you the most.

Always remember to insist upon a certificate of authentication, to check the serial number, and to buy from reputable sellers.

Looking for more tips on how to upgrade your wardrobe — and your lifestyle?

Check out our website and blog for the life hacks that will allow you to command the attention of any room, no matter what you’re wearing.