What to Do With Your Vintage Watch: Sell or Repair?

From time to time, many people are torn between selling and repairing their vintage watches. Vintage watches are an easy sale, but to do it profitably, you need to have the right information. For instance, you might want to learn about the watch company history, buying market prices for different brands of vintage watches, and the watch karats and silver markings.

Deciding whether or not to repair or sell a vintage watch is often a tough decision to make. Unfortunately, the internet is flooded with tales of priceless vintage watches butchered by incompetent independent watchmakers or even the brand itself. Whether you want to refinish the case, replace the crustal, change the hands, replace damaged or broken components, or simply sell your vintage watch, it’s best to work with a trusted watchmaker in your city.

Selling Vs. Repairing a Vintage Watch

The questions about selling vs. repairing vintage watches seem endless. However, being educated on the subject can eliminate most of the confusion surrounding the issue at hand. Here are some considerations to make when deciding between selling and repairing your vintage watch:

Refinishing the Case

Refinishing the case is probably the most controversial of all the issues surrounding selling or repairing a vintage watch. Generally speaking, polishing the case of a vintage watch will devalue it. If you have a Rolex Daytona or a Milsub (a submarine watch worn by the British Royal Navy during the 1960s and 1970s), then this can be good advice. But if you own an Omega Seamaster from 1965, getting it polished is not as important because the watch isn’t really worth that much.

Some watch collectors prefer vintage watches that are unpolished and original, and so they are more valuable. If you own a mid-level watch, say a Rolex Submariner worth about $10,000, you need to think carefully about what you will do with it. If the watch is valuable, it might be worth polishing.

It’s important to understand that your watch isn’t just an investment, but it is also important that you consider whether you will actually wear the watch or not. If it’s an important family heirloom, you may be able to sell it when the time is right. But if you are unsure, don’t do it. You can always have it refinished later, but you cannot undo the job that has already been done to it.

You must understand that there are different ways to refinish a watch. Some watchmakers are masters of their trade, but others just do a few hackish jobs to finish off an old watch. If you decide to refinish your timepiece, make sure that the person doing the job is a skilled one and that they have the right tools and equipment to finish your timepiece.

Hands and Dial

Like refinishing a watch, it is important to determine the watch’s value before you change the hands and dials. However, deciding whether to maintain original dials and hands is often a matter of no compromise: the original is always best. Original, time-appropriate dials and hands are where the value lies since collectors always want original patina to protect their investment.

Too often, we see beautiful pieces with glaringly bright luminous markers that look as though they were manufactured a few weeks ago. Sometimes the dial on a beautiful watch is left as is, and only the hands have been changed!

Movement Parts

If you own a watch with worn-out movement parts, you should change them. Replacement of original factory-produced parts or components that are manufactured by hand, even if they are no longer available, will not affect the value of your watch. If worn parts are left to decay, further damage will be caused. If you leave a cut in the watch’s axle, it would cause the watch not to function as intended and could even degrade it faster, damaging other components and impacting its value and function.

The crystal

Some people argue that original crystals should be left as they are and that the price of a timepiece will be much higher. If a crystal is original and works, keeping it will cause no harm. But a crystal is what protects your watch from the elements and should be replaced as soon as it stops functioning as intended.

Replacing a damaged crystal with one that fits properly and is made from the original parts is best practice. It ensures that the watch’s dial, hands, and movement will remain secure. Leaving a damaged or cracked crystal on a watch can allow water or dirt to easily enter it, causing irreparable damage.

If that happens, the value of the watch will decrease very quickly. Original crystals made by the watchmaker are always recommended to ensure the watch is completely functional and remains accurate.

Water Resistant Gaskets

Like the crystal itself, gaskets are also a critical line of defense against the elements. Gaskets on antique watches must always be changed when they become brittle, crack, or even turn to liquid. Whether the gasket is compromised or not, it is always wise to replace it.

Some brands of watches have been fitted with lead gaskets in the past. If you still have this fitted, swapping the lead gasket for a new rubber one would be prudent to ensure that the watch is protected from water.

Bezel, Pushers, and Crown

The bezel of a watch can greatly influence its value. Collectors prefer original watch bezels, especially GMT or dive watches. Always try to keep the original dial and hands as long as possible, as some vintage watches are worthless if an original bezel does not accompany them.

Collectors prefer original parts for things like the crown and pushers for the chronograph, but some parts of the watch may have severely damaged components that need to be looked at very carefully. These components are also important because they ensure the watch will work properly. So if you decide to keep the original, changing the gaskets in those parts will be wise; this will help keep the watch as sealed as possible.

Always Work with an Experienced Watchmaker

The most crucial aspect of choosing between repairing and selling a vintage watch is selecting a skilled, experienced watchmaker. If you decide to use a watchmaker or a watch repairman who is not a manufacturer, find out whether they understand the process of restoring a vintage watch. Always ask questions to see what they think about restoration and whether they are happy to do what you want them to do.

Learn what they intend to do with the watch to make it look better – and then make an informed decision. Certain issues will be uncontested as most watchmakers and watch manufacturers will not likely perform partial repairs on your watch. This is especially true if it’s a vintage timepiece. These repairs will ensure that the watch works as intended and is completely safe.

You may find that it is much cheaper to refinish the case and bracelet than to completely change the dial and hands, bezel, or pushers on your watch. And if you decide that you want to replace certain parts of your watch or sell it all together, then go ahead. It’s also important that you fully understand exactly what you are doing and know that replacing certain parts may actually devalue your watch significantly.

At Doylestown Gold Exchange & Jewelers, our highly trained and experienced watch repairmen can repair and service any watch you own. We can do anything from a simple crystal replacement to a complete watch overhaul for a Movado, Tag Huer or Omega watches. We can help you whether you need a new battery or if your timepiece is missing a piece of quartz or a stone. Our team has years of experience servicing both inexpensive watches and high-end timepieces from brands such as Seiko or Omega. We always try to complete your watch repair in Doylestown as quickly and effectively as possible. Contact us today for Experienced Watch Repair in Doylestown, PA – Bucks County.


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