Vintage Silver Watch Buying Guide

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Vintage Silver Watch Buying Guide

Both beautiful and useful timepieces, men's and women's silver watches are popular jewellery options. Buying vintage silver watches also adds collector's interest. Before buying, check the age and condition of the silver watch without neglecting its material makeup and features. The right considerations ensure you end up with a unique timepiece with a rich history.



Vintage watches, by definition, are at least 20 years old but less than 100 years old. Some watches have maker's marks or serial numbers inside their inner mechanisms, making them easy to look up. Other numbers stamped elsewhere are different and not useful for aging the watch. If a watch has no serial number, experts can usually estimate its age within a decade or so based on style.


All Silver or Plated?

Far more common than all-silver watches are brass watches with silver plating. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, a silver-plated watch might look just as good; however, some people are allergic to brass. Also, the silver coating can come off. Most silver is clearly marked as such, though of course any brass showing through is a clear indication of silver plating.



Glow-in-the-dark watches made in the first half of the 20th century contain radium, used to make zinc sulphide paint glow. Because zinc sulphide degrades over time, some of these watches no longer glow but are still radioactive. Most radioactive watches are probably safe to wear, but could be dangerous to repair or to throw away. Thick, pale paint could indicate radium. A watch that glows, even faintly, after several days in the dark is definitely radium.


Condition and Quality

A watch in good working order should not just keep time, but it should also be free of rust, condensation, or any sign of poorly done repair. Damage on the outside often suggests damage on the inside, and that could mean expensive repairs down the road. A well-made watch in good condition not only looks better and has a higher resale value, but it also keeps time accurately for longer with fewer repair needs.



Besides looking good and telling time, many watches have a variety of other features, from alarm settings to water-resistance. While a vintage silver piece makes a poor dive watch, it is helpful to be able to wear the watch in the rain. Find out whether the watch needs a battery, and if replacement batteries are still available.

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