It's no secret that the vintage watch market is on fire. Collectors covet what they can't get and that means they scour the world's auctions and regularly visit stores with vintage timepiece stocks to find things they may be missing in their collections. We believe in investing in vintage timepieces, as typically these are watches that hold their value. Vintage watches also often make a great sentimental gift. However, there are a few important things to note when thinking of buying vintage.
Do Your Homework. While buying on impulse is often hard to resist, we suggest you resist. Do your investigative research before you buy, especially if the watch carries a hefty price tag. It's important to know the provenance of the watch, its authenticity in design and caliber and whether or not it is a brand or a genre that continues to hold value. Best places to investigate: reputable watch blogs like ATimelyPerspective or Hodinkee; auction houses; vintage specialists with retailers; watch forums; books and catalogs from the brands.
Pay Attention to Detail. If you've done your homework, you've found images of other watches similar to the one you want to buy. Now, check out the watch in your hand. Are the hands similar? Is the dial printing or markings the same? What about the bezel? These are all tiny indicators that a watch is original and has not been altered. Also, if you've done your homework, you've learned that certain brands made fewer of one color dial than another. This can mean a great difference in the price you spend and the value the watch holds. The rarer, the better.
Ask Questions. Don't be afraid to take some pictures of the watch with your phone and to go online to some of the top watch forums to ask others who are experts in the field if the watch looks right and if the price seems accurate. Sometimes there are even reference numbers on the watch. Of course, if you are buying from a reputable retailer, this step may not be necessary, but we encourage our buyers to be informed. If you are plunking down a lot of money, think about calling the brand. Many of today's finest manufacturers have experts in house who know the vintage market.
Don't Break the Budget. It is tempting to buy outside the pre-determined budget, especially if it is a watch you really want. However, it is our experience that if you buy outside your price range, you may not be as happy with the watch. Generally, you should be prepared to pay fair market value (usually determined by other similar watches up for sale) and then to pay a little more on top of that for a watch with a certain patina, a special dial color or bezel.
Finally, we also suggest that you make sure there is the opportunity to return the watch within a certain time frame if you are not happy with the purchase.