Investing in classic watches is an exciting and rewarding experience. Not only do these timepieces represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship, but they can also be worth a great deal of money. Whether you’re a serious watch collector or just looking for an interesting side investment, it’s important to know what to look for and where to find the best deals. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the world of classic watches, from the types of watches to look for to the best places to find them. You’ll learn how to assess quality and condition, understand the complexities of pricing and valuation, and discover the history and craftsmanship behind these amazing pieces of art. So, if you’re ready to dive into the world of classic watches, let’s get started!
What are classic watches?
A classic watch is any timepiece that was produced during a specific time period and that meets a certain set of criteria. It’s important to note that “classic watch” and “antique watch” are not the same thing. An antique watch is an old watch and may or may not be a classic watch. For example, a watch from the 1920s or 1930s is a classic watch, but a watch from the 1880s is not. In order to be considered a classic watch, the watch must have been produced during a specific time period and must maintain the integrity of that time period. Classic watches are generally produced from the 1950s onward and come from a variety of well-known and respected watch brands. In order to be considered a classic watch, the watch must be in an unaltered state, still include the original parts and materials, be in good condition, and have a clear and identifiable history. For example, a Rolex Submariner from the 1960s is a classic watch because it was produced between the 1950s and the 1970s, it maintains the original parts and materials, it is in good condition, and it has a clear and identifiable history.
Assessing quality and condition
Anyone who’s ever gone shopping knows that quality matters. So when you’re assessing the quality and condition of a vintage watch, you want to make sure you’re getting something that’s high-quality and well-preserved. There are a variety of factors to consider when assessing the quality and condition of a watch, including the overall condition of the watch, the type of watch (manual or automatic), the parts, the movement, and the condition of the strap. Here are some helpful tips to assess the quality and condition of a watch:
- Check the overall condition of the watch. Does it look like it’s been well-maintained? Is it in good condition, without major scratches or dents? How is the finish? Is the case intact? Is the crystal in good condition?
- Check the type of watch. Is it a manual or automatic watch? Does it have a date or calendar? Is the watch water-resistant? If it has a rotating bezel, does it spin freely?
- Check the parts. Are there any missing parts? Are there any parts that appear to be replacement parts? What condition are the parts in? What type of materials are the parts made from?
- Check the movement. Does it work? What type of movement does the watch have? Is it powered by a quartz movement or an automatic movement? Is it the correct movement for the type of watch?
- Check the condition of the strap. Is it worn or torn? Is it made from genuine leather or a man-made material? Does it look like it’s been well-maintained?
Pricing and valuation
Pricing and valuation are two of the most misunderstood parts of the classic watch market. When you’re buying and selling watches, you’ll often hear the terms “appraisal,” “price guide,” and “valuation” used interchangeably. However, these terms are very different, and knowing the difference between them can help you better understand the classic watch market. An appraisal is a specific type of valuation that uses a thorough examination to determine the value of a specific watch. There are independent watch appraisers who can provide you with a watch appraisal, and there are also online resources that offer watch price guides. A watch price guide or valuation is a general estimate of how much a specific type of watch is worth. For example, there are numerous watch price guides that provide a wide range of estimated values for specific watches. There are also online marketplaces that provide a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily search for specific watches.
History and craftsmanship
The history and craftsmanship behind a specific watch are often what make it such a valuable and desirable piece of art. The more history a watch has, the more valuable it is. For example, an Omega Speedmaster that was part of the NASA space program is far more valuable than a regular Speedmaster. Similarly, a Rolex Daytona that was originally given to Paul Newman is far more valuable than a Daytona that was never owned by Paul Newman. The more work that went into the creation of a specific watch, the more valuable it is. For example, a Rolex Submariner model that was fully crafted in-house at Rolex is far more valuable than a Submariner model that was mostly outsourced.
Types of classic watches
There are a wide variety of classic watches to choose from, including mechanical and quartz watches, sports watches, diver’s watches, dress watches, and chronograph watches. The best way to start your classic watch collection is to decide which type of watch you want to start with. Once you’ve decided on the type of watch you want to start with, you can begin researching the different models in that category. For example, if you want to start with a mechanical watch, you can research different models like the Rolex Submariner, Omega Speedmaster, or TAG Heuer Carrera. Some of the most popular types of classic watches include:
- Mechanical watches – Mechanical watches are self-winding and powered by a mainspring. They are considered more valuable than quartz watches, but less valuable than automatic watches. Mechanical watches are generally vintage pieces, and they can be found in both manual and automatic models.
- Quartz watches – Quartz watches are powered by a battery and do not require winding. They are generally less expensive than mechanical watches but more expensive than automatic watches. Quartz watches can be found in both manual and automatic models.
- Automatic watches – Automatic watches are self-winding and powered by the motion of the wearer’s wrist. They are generally more expensive than quartz watches, but less expensive than mechanical watches. Automatic watches can be found in both manual and automatic models.
Where to find classic watches
There are a few different places where you can find classic watches. You can look through watch forums and watch groups on social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit, attend watch conventions and expos, or shop at online auction sites. Regardless of where you’re shopping, it’s important to thoroughly research your potential purchases and make sure that you’re buying from a reputable seller. If you’re shopping online, make sure that the seller has a good reputation and offers a return policy. If you’re shopping at a watch expo or convention, ask to see the seller’s credentials before making a purchase.
Buying in person vs. online
When you’re buying a watch in person, you have the advantage of being able to examine the watch more thoroughly and in more detail. On the other hand, when you’re buying a watch online, you can shop from the comfort of your home at a time that works best for you. Both purchasing options have their advantages and disadvantages. Although buying in person allows you to examine the watch more thoroughly, it also requires that you physically travel to the watch seller’s location. If you’re buying online, you have more flexibility regarding the time that you make your purchase. However, you may have difficulty examining the watch in detail.
Caring for your classic watch
One of the easiest ways to care for your vintage watch is to keep it away from water. If you’re wearing your watch and you find yourself in a situation where it might get wet, take it off immediately. If you don’t remove your watch, it could flood and cause major damage. If you don’t wear your watch on a daily basis, it