Buying A Vintage Watch? These Are The 5 Questions To Ask

Vintage Watches

Buying a watch, especially a vintage watch demands more than just walking into a shop. You need to arm yourself with relevant information so that you aren’t overspending, or worst, tricked into buying a fake.

Knowing the questions to ask before buying will help you get the authentic timepiece you want. These are the 5 must-ask questions before buying a vintage watch:

1. When Was The Watch released?

Vintage Watch
(Photo: Bonitos Relojes Baratos /

As watch brands release different models across time, knowing the dates for the watch you want is a quick way to identify whether it fits the correct era:

For example, if the watch you want was made in 1913, yet the watch you’re looking at includes plastic. You know a further investigation is needed.

Many people think that they can easily tell if the watch is old or new by just looking at it but that is not always the case, as there are many techniques to make a watch look older.

However, with the release date of the watch and some time to research, you can evaluate features and materials to make up your own mind:

And if the seller refuses to give accurate dates, walk away.

CHECK OUT: The 9 Most Expensive Watches In The World.

2. How Does The Watch Movement Work?

Watch Movement
(Photo: luginbuhlta /

Asking how a watch works is the best way to judge the age of the watch and the expertise of the seller.

Anyone selling an antique watch for a premium price should have done enough research to understand why it is so valuable. And one of the most important aspects of a watch is its movement.

Most old watches work differently than new watches. Understanding the differences will help you spot issues and offer deeper insight into whether it is the watch you want:

After all, a watches character is in its movement.

CHECK OUT: 5 Highly Collectible Military Watches (Includes Vintage And Modern).

3. What Condition Is The Watch In?

Vintage Watch

When it comes to antique watches it is important to ask, what kind of condition it is in because if it looks like it hasn’t been taken care of, chances are, it hasn’t been.

The last thing you want is a vintage watch in bad condition because fixing it could be impossible, or ridiculously expensive – if seeking original parts:

(If you fix with parts that don’t fit the original model, you’ll likely decrease the value).

The fact is, you cannot judge a watch by simply looking at it – you need to research.

Plus, if a seller says “good condition” it might just have been cleaned up for photos:

Remember, vintage watches in genuinely good condition tend to be more expensive. So always consider the price vs. what you are getting. If it is too good to be true, it most likely is.

4. Does The Watch Have A Service History?


Vintage watches that have been modified or changed in terms of parts and movements often come with a service history:

Knowing what has gone on under the hood is invaluable. You don’t want to be paying vintage prices for modern workings.

Always ask the seller about the service history to get a better idea of the modifications made to the watch which will help in estimating the price:

And if the seller wants a premium price for the vintage watch without any service history, walk away.

CHECK OUT: 10 Most Expensive Rolex Watches Ever

5. Do You Like It? (Ask Yourself This One)

(Photo: The_Vinh_Hoang /

This should be the first question you ask before paying big money.

FACT: Vintage watches can be a great investment. However, buying one without liking it is a bad idea.

Simply put, if you buy a watch that you don’t love – you are purely buying it as an investment and you should always consult financial experts about such matters.

Collectibles, like vintage watches, are to be preserved but also enjoyed. So, always give it lots of thought before jumping in.