How to buy a vintage replica man’s watch

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This 1931 art deco 14-karat yellow gold-filled Illinois New Yorker watch from Second Time Around recently sold for $120.

Time for a new man’s watch? Consider going vintage to create a look that’s as individual as you are. Vintage watches are hot these days and are being sold by auction houses, retailers and websites. But there can be a catch — you.

“For someone just interested in buying a vintage watch … almost all the time, unless they’re getting good advice, they will make a mistake early on,” said Eric Wind, vice president, senior specialist for replica watches at Christie’s, the famed auction house. “They have to rely on trusted sources.”

Christie’s, which regularly holds watch auctions at its galleries around the world (the auction house also conducts private sales and has an online retail shop), has a number of watch-collecting guides on its website, and there’s the article Wind once wrote for Hodinkee, the online wristwatch magazine, on how to buy vintage replica watches on eBay. All very useful. But for the person wanting to know, right now, how to nail that perfect watch, here are some tips on what to consider.

1. Own the look.

“Know thyself,” said Keith Lehman, editor of watch news for the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, based in Columbia, Pa. He suggests considering what your interests are and choose accordingly. A man who does a lot of outdoor activities will likely want a watch that’s durable rather than fancy, for example. “Really, it’s an individual thing.”

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This 1974 stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona had a presale estimate of $130-$150 at a recent Christie’s auction.

Jon Goldfarb, owner of Second Time Around Watch Co. in Beverly Hills, Calif., agrees.

“It’s their watch, their wrist,” he replied when asked what would-be buyers should select. The only criterion should be buying a watch that you, the wearer, wants and likes. Larger replica watches have been a trend, but he believes men should choose watches that are comfortable to wear.

2. What’s hot right now.

Wind said some large timepieces have increased markedly in value while “smaller, more delicate watches” have stayed around the same price. The market, he added, is looking at “more aggressive, beautiful” watches while younger buyers getting into the field are looking for vintage Rolex watches.

Oliver Siegle, magazine editor for Chrono24, a vintage watch website based in Karlsruhe, Germany, wrote in an email that “basically every Rolex replica sports watch in steel” is hot right now. Patek Phillippe is “the highest and most exclusive option on the vintage market.” But, he noted, there are “still more affordable brands” like replica Omega, Zenith and Angelus.

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A rare 1966 stainless steel Universal Geneve chronograph wristwatch sold at Christie’s for $175.

Watches that have achieved a certain visibility or reputation, such as an Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch,” like the one famously worn on the moon, are also in demand, Goldfarb said.

“Sport watches, the chronographs, the Explorers, are always popular,” he said.

3. Gift with care.

“It’s such a personal item,” said Goldfarb, when asked about giving a watch as a gift.

So, buy accordingly.

Lehman echoes this, saying one needs to think carefully about what the recipient’s interests are.

“If someone is a military buff, really into World War II, would they like a military hack watch?” he asked. A man who likes history? Lehman suggests looking for a model like an original cheap Rolex Oyster, the first waterproof watch introduced in 1926, because it comes with so much history behind it.

4. Buyer be aware.

How can you be sure the watch you’re buying is the real deal? Wind posed three points you should focus on:

•Can the seller provide a full report on the watch’s condition, noting what’s original and what’s been replaced?

•What is the watch’s history? Where did the seller get it? What is its service history?

•What’s the value? What are comparable watches selling for?

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This 1997 stainless steel Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon watch is $380 at ukomegareplica.co.uk.

Jim “Griff” Griffin, eBay’s dean of education, said you need to have a good idea about what you’re buying.

“The better the condition, the higher the value,” he said by telephone from San Jose, Calif., adding that you should try to buy the best watch you can afford. “Always a better value.”

Griffin also suggests you consider the seller. Is he or she in the business of selling watches? Does the seller seem knowledgeable and know what he or she is selling? Does the seller have good feedback and experience?

Lehman, in an email, stressed “the importance of purchasing vintage watches from reputable dealers with established reputations. The extra cost that you may pay far outweighs the dangers of buying a fake or ‘Franken’ watch.”

A “Franken” watch? Yes. Such a watch is one that’s rebuilt with different or nonoriginal parts, he said.

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The GQ guide to Design Rolex

In our latest series, we explore the most noteworthy watch brands any man expanding his watch collection needs to know – and the new and vintage models you need to own.

Rolex is not only one of the most recognisable and powerful global brands of the past century; the privately held, Geneva-based watchmaker is also responsible for many of the most important innovations in modern watchmaking history.

The company produced the first waterproof replica watch (the 1926 ‘Oyster’), were the first to earn chronometer precision certification for a wristwatch, and created the first watch with a changing date in the dial (the 1945 Datejust).

It was a fake Rolex on the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell when he broke the sound barrier in 1935, and when members of the Hillary expedition made the first ascent of Everest in 1953, we’ll give you one guess at what they were wearing.

Founded by German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf in London in 1905, the company anticipated the role the wristwatch would play in modern life, and Wilsdorf set out to make precise, waterproof, robust and reliable instruments to function as indispensible (albeit, luxury) tools.

Rolex replica watches in their purest sense have always been designed and built to complement specific tasks or professions. A Submariner is called a submariner because it’s a dive watch; the Daytona is a racing chronograph, and the Explorer was made to survive years of beating in hard environments – and still get the job done.

For all these reasons, a Rolex is a great place to kick off a watch collection. As well as being notoriously tough and reliable, it is a testament to their design that many of the models have been tweaked only very subtly since the pieces were first introduced.

The world of new and vintage replica Rolex is a treasure trove that deserves exploration. They have some of the highest residual (or resale) values amongst any replica watches thanks to their enduring popularity among collectors, and having graced the wrists of luminaries from Churchill to Clapton, Paul Newman to Pablo Picasso, it’s not hard to see why Rolex wears the crown.

Starter collector: Explorer

Offering a lot of history in a relatively simple looking watch, the Explorer is often seen as a purist’s Rolex. Originally released in 1953, it has no date, a 100m water-resistant case, a screw down crown and comes with a COSC certified in-house movement – bringing together every essential attribute that makes a Rolex a Rolex, it’s a triumph of unadorned practicality.

The older models with their simple black dials, and a case size of 36mm are understated, laid back and enduringly stylish – especially when fitted with a nylon NATO strap. The new edition for 2016 is larger at 39mm, has Paraflex shock absorbers and a healthy application of Chromalight lume that emits a blue glow in low light. New or vintage, the Explorer is a great everyday watch that will take on it’s own personality over time, and will undoubtedly outlast you.

Intermediate collector: GMT-Master

Developed at the request of Pan American Airways to provide its crews with a dual time watch in the mid-1950s, the GMT-Master features a bi-directional two-tone bezel for easy indication of day vs night when used across different time zones. The original red and blue bezel (affectionately known as the ‘Pepsi’ bezel) marks the GMT as one of the most distinctive travel and sports watches around.

Since 2005, the GMT has used Cerachrom (Rolex’s version of hardened ceramic) for the bezel, alongside other technical enhancements such as a highly stable Parachrom hairspring and Triplock crown for waterproofness. Whilst precious metal versions are available, the GMT’s charms are in its roots as a tool watch, and we feel it’s hard to beat the 2013 reference in 904L steel.

Next-level collector: Cosmograph Daytona

It’s an iconic, legendary watch with a timeless design that’s evolved subtly since it was originally introduced back in 1963. The Cosmograph Daytona is a no-nonsense chronograph that’s made to be worn daily. It has a robust self-winding movement housed in a tough-as-nails ‘Oyster’ case that’s built to last generations.

The new Cosmograph with black Cerachrom bezel was one of the standout hits of this year’s BaselWorld watch fair, but it is on the vintage market that Daytonas really come into their own. Steel Daytona models in rare configurations from the 1970s and earlier have a cult following amongst collectors, prized for their classic looks, versatile styling and high resale values. Problem is, they’re not easily obtained.