Vintage Hints
Table Of Contents
Vintage Hints

Buying a vintage timepiece is an important development in the life of a watch person. It marks the transition from casual interest into something closer to obsession. As we at Chrono Hunter celebrate horological obsession, we are pleased to advise you how to make this transition. 


Everyone is looking for a Rolex, Patek Philippe or Omega. People are aware of their value so the likelihood of finding a bargain is scant. It is sensible to buy an established but lesser-known brand that makes its own movements, Zenith, Universal and Eberhard being strong candidates. There are plenty of brands with great heritage, craftmanship and design that slip under the radar and researching them can prove very rewarding; owning a vintage watch made by any one of these manufacturers is a signal of knowledge as well as taste. 


Do not buy a vintage quartz watch. Much like Captain James T. Kirk’s trousers, quartz was once thought to be the future. Now we are in that future, as in the case of those trousers, we find we prefer something a little better made, more stylish and, dare we say, more expensive. 


You should try to ensure the dial of the watch is original. There was a fashion for repainting and overhauling them, but watch faces with the patina of age are now far more in demand. Packaging and documentation are important. Watches with their original papers and boxes can be worth anything from 10-30 per cent more than those without. 


If you have an eye on one day recouping your original outlay, you will find it better to avoid precious metals and jewels (the ones on the outside, not the ones that assist the smooth running of the movement). Strangely those materials tend to cloud the perceptions of buyers, with watches selling for the value of their precious metal and the jewels but not the engineering they house. Gold-plated or gold-filled cases and bracelets are also to be ignored. However well they are manufactured, the veneer eventually wears off leaving the watch looking messy and cheap.  Re-plating a vintage watch is generally a bad idea, the fresh plating rarely complements the beautiful patina of the face – imagine George Clooney in skinny jeans. 


As an investment, women’s watches could well be the way to go. Presently, they fail to hold their value from new in the way men’s do, but this is slowly changing. Women are now taking more interest in watches and the design teams of the great manufacturers are reacting to this. There is bound to be a trickle-down effect to the vintage market.  


Where you buy your watch depends on how much you like to gamble. You can buy beautiful specimens with documents and service histories on auction sites. Ebay has thousands of watches listed and among these will be some vintage classics that will give their buyers great pleasure and possibly a decent profit should they re-sell them.  


There will also be some monsters, made of several different watches, and some out-and-out fakes – even the vintage market is tarnished by counterfeiters. There are steps you can take to avoid this but buying from these sites always carries some element of risk. Readers need not stray far from this website to find a network of certified dealers proficient in the procurement of vintage watches. 


All this considered, the best piece of advice we can give is simply to buy a vintage watch because you like it. Then if the value does appreciate, it’s an added bonus.