Many people buy antique watches as part of their ongoing collection, while others are interested in vintage watches as an investment option. Either way, there are certain factors to consider before making a purchase. One of the main things to remember is that an antique or vintage watch is an old watch, and as such, it should look old. It does not not need to look dilapidated, but should not look like a recent factory release either.
Antique Watches with Repairs and Replacements
When buyers make the decision to buy an antique watch, they should understand that a watch in its original condition is ideal. Original condition in this sense does not mean "out of the box" pristine, but rather that the watch has its original parts. Some sellers add luminescent substance to the markers to make them appear newer and some sellers polish the watch to a pristine shine. However, all this dressing up diminishes the value and the polish weakens the metal. The more replacement and tampered parts on an antique watch, the lower the value is. For instance, a Vintage Rolex or Patek antique watch holds high value with their original watch face and bezel. Therefore, check to ensure that the luminescence on the hands and dial match, and that the metal on the bezel and other parts of the watch match also. It's best to get the original finish with a little less sheen and a few scratches than an overly polished and repaired antique.
Logos and Serial Numbers
Before finalising a purchase for a vintage watch, ensure you are getting what is advertised, especially if it is an online purchase. Some sellers don't have the original box or papers, so if a particular brand of watch is advertised, check pictures of the item for the company logo on the crown, dial, and maybe the case if it is available. Also check the serial number and cross reference with the listed vintage. If the logos are missing or the serial number doesn't match up, chances are some parts have been replaced or the entire watch is simply a group of mismatched antique parts. This can be fine at a reasonable price as long as the buyer is not seeking an investment option and simply likes that antique watch.
Tool Watches and Provenance
Many antique watch collectors highly covert antique watches that were created for a specific purpose. These include brand name vintage watches that were created for military use, a particular sport, or watches that were created in limited edition to commemorate an event or person. Some of these watches include antique Rolex Submariner watches, which were created for divers, the Rolex Milgauss for use in Nuclear research, and the limited edition 500 all-black watches that Rolex supposedly created for British soldiers in South Africa back in the 1960s.