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.”
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.
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?
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.