Your Guide to Buying a Vintage Stainless Steel Watch

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Your Guide to Buying a Vintage Stainless Steel Watch

What better way to feel like James Bond than to invest in a vintage stainless steel watch?? The purchase of a classic timepiece such as a vintage steel watch can be expensive, both in the cost of the item and its maintenance in the years to come, but nothing can replace the timelessness or the quality of such artwork in the watch industry.

Prior to the 1920s, men's timepieces came in the form of the pocket watch. The Hamilton Watch Company was the first watchmaking enterprise to introduce a men's 'strap watch' in November 1922, shortly after women's wristwatches became popular after World War I. Because it appeared that the men's strap watch copied the fashion of the ladies' wristwatch, the idea seemed effeminate. The men's wristwatch finally gained acceptance among men as a rugged and exploration-friendly accessory the following year.

In the watch industry, the term 'vintage' applies to collectible watches made between 1935 and 1985. The two largest brands in vintage wristwatches are Patek Philippe and Rolex, although there are roughly 50 other brands from which you can choose. Because a vintage watch can be expensive, it is important to research the different styles, brands, and prices of vintage watches before deciding to make a purchase. You can make a more informed and confident selection for your wrist's companion by first mastering the knowledge of vintage watches.

Components of a Vintage Watch

Before perusing the available selection of vintage watches, whether in stores or on the Internet, it is first essential to be well versed in the language of the vintage watch. Various parts comprise the classic wristwatch, and there are helpful tips for what to look for while shopping for the right timepiece.


There are more than 50 different brands of vintage watches to choose from, although the most popular choices were made by Rolex and Patek Philippe. When researching brands, it is important to understand the 'best years' for the different brands. For instance, many vintage dealers believe that Hamilton watches peaked in the mid-1930s, so buying a 1970 Hamilton watch may not be the best choice for that brand. Each watch owner has his or her own preference in brand and style, not to mention budget. Regardless of the brand, a vintage watch can be identified by shared, timeless components.


The case refers to the casing of the actual timepiece. It may be circular, square, or rectangular in shape. The bezel is the frame around the case that encloses the crystal and the watch's dial. The key to analysing the case of a vintage watch is to look for poorly-aged cases that may show rust, discolouration, or a rough and uneven texture. Some scratches can be polished out, but deeper blemishes or dents may be expensive to repair.


The crystal of a watch, although it is not actually made of crystal, is the clear piece of glass, acrylic, or synthetic sapphire that covers the dial of the timepiece. Fortunately, scratched crystals are easy and inexpensive to repair. Synthetic sapphire crystals, which are the most durable and also the most expensive, may be worth the investment.


The dial is the actual face of the timepiece inside the case and crystal. When shopping for a vintage watch, be sure to check for any discolouration, oxidation, or cracks, although these are all easily repairable. For a vintage watch, there should not be any fancy additions on the dial, meaning the piece should only tell the time and not the moon phases, month of the year, or the time zone. For more affordable watches, buyers can avoid watches with gold or special detail on the dial, as these options can cost hundreds of pounds more.


The movement is the actual mechanics of the timepiece. What many antique dealers define as a truly vintage watch is dependent on whether the movement is battery-powered, known as quartz, or self-winding. For vintage watches, it is highly recommended to purchase a self-winding watch. While this means that the watch must be wound from day-to-day, it ensures that the mechanics of the timepiece do not depend on a battery. Furthermore, the mechanical feel of a self-winding watch echoes the feel of the last century and is truly vintage.

While stainless steel watches are the sturdiest-looking timepieces, the movement within the watch consists of delicate craftsmanship. Time, water, and the elements can cause the fine pieces of metal to rust or break, and repairs can cost about £1000. If this is the case, it may be wise to find another watch rather than invest in repairs.


For a vintage stainless steel watch, the strap should also be made from stainless steel. However, if the stainless steel case is the only part a buyer cares about, then it is possible to obtain straps in different colours, leathers, fabrics, and styles. Most straps are removable, so the watch can actually be quite versatile, depending on the occasion. The benefit of the stainless steel strap is that it can match any and every outfit, from black-tie attire to beach attire. While other metals, such as platinum and white gold, are considered more vintage than stainless steel, this invincible metal's durability and its ability to match any outfit, from suit to swimsuit, makes a vintage stainless steel watch a prime accessory.


According to experts, obtaining the original documentation that states when a watch was manufactured adds value to a cherished timepiece. This is not necessary for a watch to be considered vintage, but, for collectors, the inclusion of authentic documentation is a valuable addition to a watch's overall worth. As a result, it is always beneficial to ask sellers about the available documentation for a watch.

Maintenance of a Vintage Stainless Steel Watch

Because a vintage wristwatch is so expensive, regular maintenance is essential to prolonging its life. Cleaning and re-oiling the watch's movement every three to five years is a required part of maintaining the timepiece. This is best handled by experts who can take apart the watch and put the small pieces back into the dial again correctly. An additional benefit of regular maintenance is that watch professionals can also do minor adjustments if the piece is running too fast or too slow.

The average cost to maintain a luxury vintage watch is around £400, although the service may be as cheap as £100, depending on the style and age of the piece. Considering the value of the timepiece, which can be worth hundreds or even thousands of pounds, the investment is worth the money.

Finding a Vintage Stainless Steel Watch

There are several ways to begin your search for the perfect vintage stainless steel watch. One place to check is local auction houses where vintage and estate pieces are up for bid regularly. However, looking there for vintage timepieces may be a hit or a miss, as not every auction can offer the variety that buyers are seeking. Local antique shop owners or vintage retailers with better knowledge on the subject of vintage items may be more helpful to you in your search for specific era or brand watches. However, the help of a dealer can only go as far as their inventory, which is often limited. Besides these brick and mortar stores, browsing through auction sites like eBay allows you to take advantage of a powerful search engine and large user database.

Buying a Vintage Stainless Steel Watch on eBay

While finding a reputable dealer who is knowledgeable about vintage watches may help you find the perfect stainless steel watch for your needs, no dealer, auction house, or antique shop can offer their buyers the impressive selection that eBay offers on a daily basis. Once you have decided what kind of vintage watch you desire, simply type keywords like 'vintage stainless steel Rolex &' into eBay's search box and browse the results. Filters on the results page can help you narrow the results based on varying criteria.

It is important to research the reputation of sellers on eBay before committing to a purchase or bid. By looking at the feedback left by previous customers, you can be more confident about your purchasing decision. Additionally, if you are unfamiliar with the overall process for purchasing items on eBay, you may find the Buying Basics and How to Pay on eBay articles to be very helpful.


Whether you need a watch for a promotion-worthy business meeting, a dinner date with the wife, or for running everyday errands, owning a timeless, vintage stainless steel watch completes a man's look without being cumbersome or over-the-top. Because a vintage stainless steel watch is effortlessly fashionable, it is essential to put in some work before buying a timepiece in order to make sure it is the right watch for you.

Generally speaking, a vintage watch was generally manufactured at least 50 years ago, is self-winding, and is simple in design and appeal. It is important to regularly maintain a vintage watch in order to prolong its life and ensure its value as an investment piece. Having the original documentation for a vintage watch increases the value of the watch, although it isn't absolutely necessary for the timepiece to be considered vintage or antique. While certain brands like Rolex stand out, there are numerous other brands of beautiful vintage watches.

Vintage stainless steel watches can be found in brick and mortar stores, such as antique shops and auction houses, but nothing beats the variety that can be found on eBay. By simply entering keywords into eBay's search box, a buyer can review hundreds of listings for watches that are available for sale on the site.

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