A Guide to Buying Real Vintage Watches

Although a lot of people rely on their mobile phones to tell them the time nowadays, there is still a place for the watch – even if that is just as a fashion accessory! Some men choose to have modern wristwatches with all of the posh new features and tiddly bits, but others sometimes choose to wear a vintage watch. Vintage watches can be a unique piece to add to any wardrobe, so they’re worth a look if you need a new timepiece. However, before buying your vintage watch there are a few things you should know first.

What is a Vintage Watch?

To some people, vintage might mean pocket watches that people had before the 20th century. However, many hobbyists and watch enthusiasts consider anything over 25 years old vintage. Watches from the 30s through to the 60s are in high demand. Military watches are also in high demand. Many vintage watches are mechanical and need to be wound regularly if you want them to work properly.

How to Evaluate a Vintage Watch

At first glance, it can be difficult to know whether a watch is truly vintage, and whether it’s in full working order. Any item that is old enough to be vintage will definitely show some amount of wear and tear. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a factory sealed vintage watch, and even if you did it would be too precious to wear…so why would you want it?! Counterfeit vintage watches are quite common, and even eBay sellers may believe that they’re selling the real thing when they aren’t. A real vintage watch can look amazing when paired with the right accessories, like these bags from the Shinola men’s collection.

Check for Rust

First of all you should check for rust. If there seems to be rust on only the outer part of the watch, then you can usually polish this off quite easily. However, if you think the rust goes all of the way inside of the watch then it probably won’t work properly and is hard to fix.

Look at The Dial

The dial of a watch also gets some wear and tear over time. The glass or crystal over a dial can be replaced, but an actual dial can’t. If the dial looks in a state where it can be repaired, be careful, as these repairs can sometimes be expensive.


Markings can tell you a lot about the watch and who made it. Even a lack of markings can be telling – on a real Rolex, you won’t find any at all!

If you want to buy a real vintage watch, then you need to keep your wits about you to ensure you buy the real deal. You don’t want to show your watch off to your friends, only to be told that it’s a counterfeit watch. You don’t want to end up buying a real vintage watch that’s damaged beyond repair either! Follow this guide and you’ll end up with a lovely vintage watch you can be proud of.

Image credit: Lauri Rantala on Flickr.

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Published on: April 7, 2014

Filled Under: Style

Views: 3117

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