Vintage Watch Classification

petkr

New member
Sherpa
Being a novice to watch collecting I wonder if there Is any systematic classification of vintage watches?
I am thinking similar to classic cars where there are cathegories such as FIVA cathegories
1. Authentic
2. Original
3. Restored
4. Rebuilt

I think in general there is a need for replacement parts, but when sold it should be declared. One example is the red indicator ring that breaks too easely (after all it is for a toolwatch).
I think there are legal issues with replacement parts with logotypes (such as dials) since that would be fakes (unless produced by the holder of the logotype of course).
 

kazrich

New member
Enicaristi
Sherpa
To my knowledge there is no official classification or known categories.
A vendor may make a mistake in a watch description simply because they don't know
any better - they aren't necessarily attempting to deceive.
Obviously, apart from replacement bracelets and straps , the most desirable vintage watches
are as close to the way they left the factory as possible.
My 1950 JLC recently required a new main spring. These are now unavailable from JLC
but generic replacements are available.
So is it now a non original watch , a rebuilt watch, a restored watch or an authentic watch with a
non JLC main spring ?
Does that devalue it ?
 

petkr

New member
Sherpa
Following the car classification I think it would qualify as original if the spring is considered as consumable (like tires and sparkplugs). For something that should be used I dont think it should affect the value at all. People may even apreciate that the spring is new (like new tires), but that is just my opinion.
 

SteveHarris

Administrator
Staff member
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Sherpa
I do think that tastes may change at some point especially as more and more of the watches age too badly to be considered to be wearable any more.

I think it was Stigmata or JimJupiter that pointed out that we're not far away (say 10-15 years) until we see vintage watches with reluming as the norm. If you look online you will see that a lot of them crumbling already and this will affect the dials in the years to come and will need cleaning off and tidying up.
 

petkr

New member
Sherpa
Well, lume is a consumable as it disapears with time so I think reluming can be a way to restore a watch to original condition, although not authentic, but it is not authentic with the lost lume either....
 

Joe_A

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Enicaristi
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I am a member over at the Omegaforums, though I do not yet own an Omega watch. There, as well as at WUS, one may find diverse opinions as to what devalues or increases the value of a vintage watch.

Some, no matter how beautiful the watch may be in every other way, will regard a watch as a POS if the case has been polished at all, and especially if any of the original facets or chamfers are missing. All other things being in fine condition, light polishing does not bother me, but then I am not a WIS.

Reluming bothers some greatly and others not at all. For those who think a watch degraded when the lume has been touched, they'd rather have irregular discolored and crumbling lume with pieces missing than to entertain owning a relumed watch.

I personally do not mind a redial if O.E.M or exquisitely done, but there are collectors who'd rather have a dial that looks like it spent time in a sanitary drainage ditch than to acquire a watch with a dial that has been repaired or replaced. To some patina is wonderful while to others it's just called what it actually is: damage.

It goes without saying that crowns must be correct and signed (in the case where signed crowns were originally fitted,) and here I agree.

Movements should be signed when the original movements were signed. I don't think a discrepancy here to be trivial.

Let's not even discuss hands. A whiff of anything irregular having to do with hands may send a true collector into a fit of apoplexy.

We are however, permitted to polish aging crystals, so there is that. ;)

Good discussion of watch case refinishing and reluming here:

HeuerTime - Abel Court - Refurbishing
 
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petkr

New member
Sherpa
I think there is the aspect of useability. If you are a pure collector and dont really worry about using the watch, original should be insisted upon. However, if you want to use a watch, you want it to be readable and functioning and to look good, this could motivate to restore hands and lume, or replacemts for a missing crown or buttons, etc. Hence you would have a restored watch (and it should be declared as such if it is to be sold). I am afraid that always insisting on originality will leave a lot of watches in the drawers, and there will be no market to develop high quality replacement parts and restoration techniques,
However, I think replacement parts with logos is a no-no even for legal reasons.
Hence if a dial is replaced, it cannot have a logotype, so it would be better to carefully restore the dial.
 

Joe_A

New member
Enicaristi
Sherpa
One can buy aftermarket parts for vintage cars with the original O.E.M logos on them. Concours judging rules allow for replacement parts so long as they are made like the original. So, for example, if the original wiring was cloth-covered and had special bullet connectors, even though the connectors may be less reliable than those made today, one can buy a vintage wiring harness with cloth covering and the correct original stye connectors and not be penalized. With concours judging, it is expected that vehicles have been restored to "like new" condition.

I think with watches, it is very good form to disclose anything that is not original. Would that everyone felt the same way.

What bothers me - and I am sure everyone else who knows better - is when a seller deliberately hides something from a prospective buyer. Sometimes we can tell and when we do, the seller's reputation will suffer at least among a community located at a particular forum.

But the world is big and such disreputable sellers may find someone to pay their price anyway.

It may also be a matter of opinion whether a crappy looking original watch is somehow "better" than a good-looking restored watch.

It seems to me that the value of a watch is simply what the market will pay for it - and it seems to vary over time for any given type.

When we buy a 1966 watch that is in exceptionally good condition in 2019, can we ever be sure that parts were not changed with replacement parts that look just like the original? Even with dials sometimes the experts watch idiot savants argue as to whether a dial or hands are original - or not - and in the end, may not agree. <shrug>

I think buying watches as an investment is rather silly. Sure, you may score big if you made the right picks years ago, but luck has something to do with it too. If I were to offer any of my watches for sale, I'd state what I did to it while I had it. This is something I have thought about and so I don't hesitate to discuss whatever I've done publicly as I know what I say will not come back to bite me. ;)
 
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