The vintage watch of your grandfather! Congrats for finding it! How cool is that? Watches can live throughout generations if we take care of them. Remember, you never actually own a watch; you merely look after it for next generations 😉
Watches being able to outlive their owners is the reason why maintenance and care must be considered very seriously. Keep in mind as well that it’s also good for the resale value!
First steps with a “new” vintage watch
First of all, you should search for information, box, papers and documents about servicing. Don’t worry if you don’t have anything of that, but the more information you get the more easy it will be to anticipate any maintenance cost and the overall watch value. Watches with all of their papers can get so much more value than a “simple” watch. Also, knowing when was the last service can find itself pretty useful. However, even without any of those information, you can still assess the overall accuracy of the watch to get an idea of how it performs. You can measure for free the accuracy of your mechanical watch Toolwatch.io to determine if your watch should be serviced or not!
Having done that, you will find out if your watch runs properly or not. Above the -/+25 spd range (seconds per day), your watch will definitely require a proper service (you should read our Ultimate Watch Servicing Guide). Within the -/+25 spd range, you can consider it is okay for a vintage watch that hasn’t seen a watchmaker for a while and still be able to regulate the watch by yourself following those tips ;). However, this won’t give you a complete overview of the watch.
Accuracy is the key metric to evaluate your calibre’s health, however, to fully appreciate the watch, you will also need to determine the quality of its gaskets, internal components, jewels and oils. Without any information on last services, we would still recommend you to service the watch (independently from it’s current good or bad accuracy). Even if the watch runs well, it’s always good to service vintage watches if you want it to both properly run and to preserve it against external factors (water, dust, magnetism…) Water and dust infiltrations will damage both dials and internal components making future services cost much more! To avoid taking a risk while washing your hands, go for a full service.
Servicing a vintage watch is not mandatory, but it will ensure you both its good functioning and its overall resale value. Moreover if the watch doesn’t come from a trusted seller.
Resale value of a vintage mechanical watch
From a resale value perspective, you’ll need to get both a functioning watch and in its original condition. The idea here is to keep as much as historical integrity to the watch as possible. When you will go to your dealer for a watch servicing, ask to keep the external aspect in its current condition. Basically, avoid changing the dial, hour markers, hands, crown, bezel and so on if possible. Historical integrity offers better resale value as it gives uniqueness to a watch. Oxidized dials can be so much valuable! Regarding components, official dealers will help you replace damaged ones with original parts, which is also enormously valuable. Sometimes, your good old independent watchmaker won’t be able to supply with missing components (watch brands tend to limit their production to authorized dealers) and if this should be the case, then you should service your watch directly through the brand as they will do proper work to rebuild old components.
Here is an example of exceptional dial patina:
The case must also be kept in its original conditions. Polishing it will remove material and lose the watch’s identity as a consequence. You should note as well that those tips are also worth for modern production watches! Be careful and do not hesitate to give your specific servicing guidelines to dealers and manufacture before leaving them with your watches. After all, it’s a matter of personal perspectives and can change from one watch fan to another but on our side, we would recommend: giving full service to vintage watches you get (except if they come from recognized dealers with at least one year guarantee) and trying to maintain them in the best possible historical integrity!
See you soon for a next article to share our love for mechanical watches !