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February 22, 2017


What to Look For When Buying a Vintage Watch

Gloved hand holding Hamilton Khaki Harrison Ford Wrist Watch silver dial with brown band and stainless steel case


There are a number of good reasons to consider buying a vintage watch. For starters, many vintage watches are exceptionally valuable, either because of their design or historicity, though ideally, both. While there are a multitude of reasons for purchasing a vintage watch, it’s worth noting that it can also be a problematic enterprise. To protect yourself from potential errors, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the best ways to procure a luxury vintage watch at a fair price, and with the right credentials. Here are a few of the best tips we here at TimeScape suggest to help get you started.


Do Your Homework


Chronoswiss Timemaster CH 2833 Watch with yellow dial and papersWhile it may seem obvious, even seasoned watch collectors can be coaxed into buying a gorgeous vintage watch without conducting proper research. Since luxury vintage watches are often purchased from smaller proprietors or under less traditional circumstances, it can be tempting to move ahead with a purchase without doing your homework. However, it is to your advantage to take a step back, examine the paperwork, and get an expert second opinion. Be sure to purchase your items from a reputable person or dealer, and check into their return policy. Be wary of establishments or businesses that do not offer some sort of guarantee of authenticity or warranty. Last but not least, it is best to physically inspect the watch if possible, as many items for sale on the internet use stock photos, and not the genuine picture of the pre-owned item in its authentic condition. Be sure to trust your instincts, but definitely do your research.


Get It Checked Out


Watchmaker in lab looking through telescope at watchMuch like a vintage car, a vintage watch may look gorgeous, but it’s important to poke around under the hood. Enlist a trusted watchmaker, expert, or specialist to confirm that the watch you’re interested in is in good condition and has worn well over time. Verify that the watch is free from water damage and other environmental considerations, functions well, and contains original components and findings. While it may take some doing, the trouble of confirming this information will be worth it in the long run. We here at TimeScape have an expert watch technician that can authenticate watches. Be sure if you are entrusting a professional, they are certified and have had several years of experience in the industry.


Find a Design That You Love


It can be tempting to buy a vintage watch simply because of its purported value, but you’ll be happiest in the long-term with a watch that you personally adore. While luxury vintage watches can prove to be strong investment pieces, the most valuable item you own will be the one that you’re genuinely drawn to. With that said, be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for before you ever set foot in a shop, and do some preliminary searches in advance so that you feel comfortable with your own aesthetic preferences, eras of interest, and specific designers.


Enlist the Help of a Trusted Expert

Salesman showing a Ulysse Nardin watch with black gloves on standing over a display caseThere are three primary types of experts that are arguably the most useful in guaranteeing the value and authenticity of a vintage watch: watchmakers, manufacturers, and expert dealers. Watchmakers are often considered valued experts because of their insider knowledge and depth of experience. Likewise, manufacturers can often be contacted directly and, while it may take time, can often provide valuable information on several of their older models. Expert dealers are of enormous value because they are, in many cases, the most likely to have direct experience with a watch’s history, documentation, and appraisal value. By developing relationships with those involved in the industry, you’ll feel considerably more confident in your purchase of a vintage timepiece.


At TimeScape, we’re pleased to offer our advice and share our knowledge of our unrivaled selection of contemporary timepieces, vintage luxury watches, and professional winders. Along with our incomparable selection of watches and accessories, we also pride ourselves on having the expertise to support our one-of-a-kind collection. To learn more, or to inquire about a particular item, reach out to us directly in person, by phone at (877) 525-8880, or via email at

Craig Zaligson
Craig Zaligson


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