An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Author Veronica Rose
Date Feb 15, 2021

An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Interested in buying a vintage watch but don't know what to look for? Or maybe you've just recently acquired a vintage watch but you're curious about how to take care of it. The CFO of Analog Shift, Vincent Brasesco, was kind enough to let us pick his brain in order to give you answers to all the questions you may be asking.

1. Why Buy a Vintage Watch?

Vincent: "There are so many reasons to buy a vintage watch, the thrill of the hunt, the investment potential, but for so many of us it’s the emotional connection of continuing the story of a watch’s life. Watches are pieces of history that were witness to some of mankind’s greatest moments. Watches worn on the moon or on the wrist of famous stars and race car drivers. For us at Analog/Shift – that is the most thrilling part of owning a vintage piece."

2. What Defines a Vintage Watch?
An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Omega Steel Constellation Wrist Watch || ESWV0029 || $3,500

Vincent: "There are a few different ways to define a vintage watch, for us there are two defining hallmarks. Radium/Tritium Lume and a non-sapphire crystal. The radium/tritium lume is what gives watches that beautiful cream/orange colored patina that we all love so much, and non-sapphire crystals with their beautiful domes greatly contribute to the profiles that have defined some of the most iconic watches for decades."

3. What Brands Are Most Popular?

Vincent: "Watchmaking is an art form with deep historical roots, so its no surprise to hear that some of the most popular vintage brands, are brands that are still around today! Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, and Heuer are all very popular brands to collect in the vintage community."

4. What Should You Look For in a Vintage Watch?
An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Steel Tudor Oyster Automatic || ESWV0035 || $2,250

Vincent: "Condition, condition, condition. The key to a great vintage watch is making sure that all of the parts are period correct to the watch, and in great condition. That doesn’t mean that the watch should look brand-new, but it means that everything should be aged evenly, and in well preserved condition."

5. What's the Difference Between Antique, Vintage and Collectible Watches?

Vincent: "Antique watches are the oldest watche - think early 20th century from the teen’s to the 1940s. Vintage is a larger category representing the 1950s to the 1980s, and Collectible watches are sometimes called “contemporary classics” – which tend to be newer limited production or cult-classic watches, like some of the Omega Speedmaster Limited Editions (ie CK 2998) or a Rolex Explorer 14270!"

6. What Determines the Value of a Vintage Watch?
An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Omega Steel Calibre 381 Wristwatch || ESWV0034 || $6,500

Vincent: "So many things! Condition, rarity, provenance, and of course – supply and demand! Things like the size of the watch also matter too – as so many vintages watches tend to be smaller in size than modern watches, so finding a large size vintage watch can greatly increase its value!"

7. What Care is Needed to Keep a Vintage Watch in Good Working Order?

Vincent: "Like any mechanical object, we recommend regular servicing every few years by a skilled watchmaker and of course, keeping your watches dry! We never recommend swimming with any vintage – and every watch we sell through Analog/Shift is serviced and warrantied for a full year by our expert watchmakers!"

8. How Do I Know if a Vintage Watch is Authentic?
An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Omega Steel Speedmaster Wristwatch || ESWV0030 || $5,500

Vincent: "The short answer is to buy from trusted sellers like Analog/Shift and Long’s Jewelers. There is a lot that goes into the authentication of a vintage watch, and unless you have really done your homework its best to buy vetted pieces from professionals."

9. Should I Refurbish My Watch? Will That Lower the Value?

Vincent: "You should always service your watches to make sure that they are running in excellent order and working as intended. In 9 out of 10 cases we usually advise our clients not to refurbish a watch from top to bottom – swapping out original parts or polishing down cases is never a good idea and “over-restoring” a watch can greatly lower the value of your timepiece."

10. What Features of a Vintage Watch are Most Important?
An Expert's Guide to Vintage Watches

Longines Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch || ESWV0026 || $1,500

Vincent: "Most collectors would agree the most valuable part of a watch is the dial, followed by its case. Nothing hurts watch values more than poorly refinished dials or polished down cases!"

Interested in seeing any of these watches or other similar designs? Contact us or make an appointment and one of our specialists will be more than happy to show you our extensive collection of estate watches!
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