You love watches! Good for you, we all do. You can no longer ignore the call and you know the moment has come to dive into this wonderful vintage watches wonderland. But, be aware, diving in this Ocean is nor risk free. Close your eyes and see the old ship and the drunk pirates. Take a good look at the waves, the wind… There are sharks, stinging jelly fishes, singing blonde mermaids and a lot of other hazards made for you to lose your sense of reality and drown into the deep dark waters and never surface again. So… open your eyes and ears and take all necessary precautions swimming here. This beautiful Ocean is deep and can be really dangerous.
So… the Top Ten commandments for any WIS greenhorn. This is the least you should know before even approaching the Vintage Watches waters… (Vintage Citizen Watches included):
- Tropical – This should be the first undisputed one. When you hear the term “Tropical” just turn around and run as fast as you can. Most of the time “Tropical” means a badly deteriorated dial, maybe baked in the oven, tampered with to the point of becoming garbage. Since the dial is (probably) the most important part of a watch, you just don’t want anything labeled “tropical”. “Spider dials” and other similar terms included. Leave these watches for the old pirates who know their stuff.
- Never polished – Oh, yes! Never polished means most of the time that the watch was badly abused and is full of dents and scratches. Who knows what’s inside?! Better to leave it be. Walk away from “Never polished”. At the same time, walk away from “Polished”. You just need an honest watch.
- Rare and Ultra mega rare, Unique – Well… maybe it is rare but that doesn’t actually makes it valuable. Let the rare watches for the ones in the know. Keep it simple, keep it common, keep is safe.
- Collectable – Everything is collectable. So any watch is like this and “collectable” means nothing else than that the seller is trying to make an extra buck for this watch you are interested in. Is it advertised as “collectable”? Yes, it is, and so are all the other watches. Don’t let people tell you what is collectable for you or not.
- Project watch for restoration – This is a NO GO! This means that if you get it you will go mad or even die before restoring it. This is not easy and you will never make this project watch what you were made to believe you will. Project watches are not for you. Go away. Spend your time and money elsewhere.
- Mint and NOS – Mint watches and NOS pieces should be never opened, never serviced, no dings, no scratches and perfect in every way. Yes, this is the way to get them if you are lucky. Aim for them but don’t overpay for such a piece because once you start wearing it, the watch will no longer be NOS and Mint.
- Box and papers – Though is nice to have your vintage watch with box and papers this is not a must. Most of them don’t. Back in the days people didn’t care about the box and the bought the watch for wearing as they are supposed to be used, not for collecting dust in a bank safe for investing purpose as nowadays. So… box and papers, cool but not mandatory.
- Good investment – Really?! If it is such a good (once in a lifetime opportunity) investment, then why the seller does’t keep it himself? Watches can be good investment when you know, after a lot of years of learning the hard way and in the end… it all comes up to luck. Don’t be fooled with the “investment” value of any watch. Buy and wear what you like.
- Water proof – Just forget about even showering with your vintage diving watch unless you service it and water test it at a trusted watchmaker. Jus’t don’t!
- Homage watch, inspired by… – Do NOT buy fake watches! Ever! End of story.
Bottom line: If you have experienced friends, ask for help. Ask for help but decide for yourself. What do you like, when are you gonna wear the watch, what is your budged? Learn about the model you are looking for as much as you can. Do your homework and buy the seller rather than the watch. Yes, I know it is not easy and it seems overwhelming but we all had to start somewhere and we all learn day by day. You will find so much joy and beauty here, friends, you will make cherished memories… enjoy the Vintage Watch World! Have fun doing it and do’t take it so seriously. And one more thing…. never forget… the Grail, the Perfect watch, the “exit” watch is not real.
Excellent dictionary, your comments are very relevant.
I think that “project watches” are usually watches that the (more or less professional) seller wanted to restore but it turned out to be too expensive or impossible. Passing the hot potato here!
Another one that I like, usually found on Japanese auctions, is “if nervous please refrain from bidding”. For some reason this makes me laugh every time.
You are so right about the Japanese auctions: “if nervous please refrain from bidding”. How can I forget about this???? LOL!