The Beginner’s Guide to Vintage Watches

Here’s a quick introduction, if you are considering a vintage watch purchase:

Vintage Watches are generally smaller than today’s watches

We’ve become accustomed to rather large watches in recent years due to changes in fashion. Today, a man’s watch can be typically 40mm or more in diameter. Skip back to 1960, it would be generally no more than 34mm in diameter and back in the 1940s, a man would typically wear an even smaller 31mm sized watch.

Vintage watches don’t use batteries

It wasn’t until 1976 that battery powered quartz watches became a commonplace with red-screen LED watches being some of the first examples first seen from around 1973.

Vintage watches need winding

Vintage watches are mechanical watches and need winding to maintain time. Manual wind watches generally need to be wound fully once every 24hours to maintain timekeeping.

Automatic watches need winding too!

Automatic watches will not run on their own; they have mechanical movements and need winding too.  The rotor inside the movement allows the watch to be wound as the watch moves on the wrist BUT if it is completely unwound it will take many hours of wear to wind it back up. For this reason, we advise manually winding first via the crown to get the watch started and continuously running.

Vintage watches are not as accurate as modern quartz watches

Even the most expensive Rolexes are inferior time keepers to a modern quartz watch.  Typically, a vintage watch will keep time with a range of 10sec to 3mins a day depending on the type, quality and condition of the movement.

Vintage watches need careful handling

Some watches are more robust than others, but, as a general rule all vintage pieces should be kept well away from water, damp and dusty environments.  Shock should be avoided as well as magnetic sources.

A vintage watch needs to be maintained

Vintage watches can last well in excess of 100 years if regularly serviced. Like all things mechanical, care and maintenance is the key to longevity, unlike a quartz watch which has a limited lifespan.

Will a vintage watch increase or decrease in value?

A well looked after vintage watch will generally increase in value over time.

 

Now you’ve completed your Vintage Watch overview, take a look at our selection of watches at PoshTime.

Comments

  1. Desiree says

    Hi. I have a Lavina watch(1940), similar to one you recently sold.
    Can you tell me what it may be worth. It seems to be in need of some repair but I am not sure if it is worth fixing.
    Thanks Desiree.

    • says

      Hello Desiree, Lavina isn’t a well known make and value is really down to case material, condition etc. Typically a 9ct cushion case example like the one we sold would be worth £100-£150 in good working order.

  2. Lorna Clifford says

    I have a watch with 9k on the case it is an Omega it also has 9341488 stamped in the case. It is rectangle but only has the no 12 9 & 6 I believe it is from the 1930s-1940s Could you tell me approx value the watch works but its glass is broken is it worth getting repaired

  3. hazel elvidge says

    I have an Avia hallmarked silver (back of watch and bracelet clasp) ladies watch with marcasite.

    It is in perfect working order and I wonder if you could give me an idea of the value of it?

    Many thanks.

  4. Ivan G. says

    Hi Robin,

    I am from Croatia and I like your site, I learned more details about old clocks ;) I wear constantly my old DARWIL from ’70, but I have a question for Longines watch, if you could help me? At the end of the text I will provide links that show my watch.
    My question is:
    – approximately, what is the value of the watch ??

    Thank you in advance for your response and friendly regards,

    Ivan.

    Links:
    https://db.tt/K2dnLZKY
    https://db.tt/oZMCXqU6
    https://db.tt/dgJLnuC9
    https://db.tt/1G0ARybP
    https://db.tt/BWp5N4Kf

  5. Olive Blanche Lindberg says

    have an omega watch from 1973 in mint condition would like to know exactly
    when it is from

    thank you.

    i.e. use it daily

    • says

      The serial number on the movement is the most accurate way to date the watch. Be aware that the movement production date will typically be 1-2 years earlier than when the watch was first sold, so accurate dating is not generally possible.

  6. john holmes says

    Hi . I have a ladies omega Geneve watch. It belonged to my Mother, and she had this watch for as long as I can remember, I’m 60 so I am assuming the circa would be around late 50`s to early 60s .The watch has a small square face,the face and wrist band are one piece, and again I assume may be gold. There are stamps on the band, but am unable to see any detail using my primitive magnifier. Markings on inside are “Lunette”Plaque OR G20 Microns
    Fond Acier
    INOXYDABLE.
    511.0452
    my Grandfather was a jeweler in London, I can faintly make out our family name inscribed inside, as well as a date ? Any advice/information
    value etc would be greatly appreciated ,John

  7. Peggy says

    I have a gents gold Hefik Watch 17 jewels incabolic sub second hand dial.
    Engraved on back Presentation May 1957
    Any idea how much this is worth?
    Good working order

  8. Paul C. Botten says

    My parents bought me an Omega Automatic Seamaster De Ville watch in England for my 21st Birthday in June 1965. I still have the watch but it has not been worn for many years. I would like to have it serviced and back in working order if it is both mechanically and financially possible to do so. My parents have long since passed away and this gift has great sentimental value to me. I live in Golden CO and would appreciate any help or information you could send me to start this process. I have over the past 30 years been to several local watch repairers in the Denver area with no success. I have been told that the watch needs a new glass face and may need waterproofing again. All of the watch repair shops said that replacement parts were not available and I basically gave up trying until I read your information on-line. The watch has been kept in a drawer since I stopped wearing it. I hope you can help me or put me on the right track. Sincerely, Paul C. Botten. Phone:303-422-7314.

    • says

      Hi Paul, we’d love to work on it but we due to Royal Mail restrictions we wouldn’t be able to ship it back to you once work is completed. They put a blanket ban on sending watches to the US earlier in the year. Waterproofing isn’t an issue on vintage pieces. Buy a $100 Casio if waterproofing is important. Replacement parts is increasingly a problem, but most watches don’t need parts replacing other than normal service items such as mainsprings, crystals etc. which are readily available for most Omega calibres.

  9. Gary Furze says

    I have a omega quartz day date c 1972 ref 3023.052. It is in good working order and in very good condition,a new brown omega leather strap (same as original). my watch is Gold with a light coloured face and has been recently serviced. I am trying to find out either what its worth or where the best place is to get it valued to sell it

    • says

      Hi Gary 3023.052 is a PoshTime internal ref number not an Omega ref. so I’m assuming the watch was bought from us. If it’s still in the condition we sold it, it would be worth around £330. Trade price will be less.

  10. Ames says

    Hello!

    I have a 1961 Omega Constellation gold watch with calendar in mint condition. I am looking to sell it. Is it rare and what would the value of this watch be?
    Thanks for your help! :)

    • says

      Hi Ames, no they aren’t rare but good examples are getting harder to find. Values can be anything from £250 for a bad example to £1000 for a pristine gold capped on steel example. It’s all about condition and originality.

  11. aleks says

    My late mothers watch is a small gold chain Majex from the sixties. Never heard if this make so can you tell me a bit about it and its approx value.

    • says

      Majex was a fairly budget make using stock ebauches from the Swiss makers. Lots of examples to see on the internet. Typically value will be similar to the scrap value of the gold if it has a solid gold chain. Price wise see similar high volume watches of the period from Everite, Accurist, Talis, Excelsior, Bentima etc.

  12. Hilda says

    I have a bravington,s renown ladies gold watch with a gold strap about 1935!!!
    i wish to sell it any idea on the asking price, it,s in working order and very good condition. Thankyou

  13. Martin says

    Love the information…many thanks for the advice…and a great website with some seriously nice watches!! Thanks again from france!!

  14. TERRY JOHNSON says

    Hi I have a Roamer calender 17 jewels watch which my dad left me 20 yrs ago and has not been wound until a week ago. It is fully working and I would say it is in good to very good condition the metal bracelet is broken and a small crack in the glass, would it have any value. Thanks Terry

  15. Lynda Barnes says

    I have a Benson ladies 8k gold watch, It is not in working order ( has not been used for many years) it has a leather strap. Would it be worth having it serviced/repaired. Regards Lynda

  16. Richard Stancomb says

    I’ve a Rolex Oyster Speedking Precission c 1944, stainless case, serial 291858.

    Is there any way one can find if this was issued to a POW under WWII offer?

    Thank you

  17. younantha says

    Hello!

    I have a Omega seamaster cal 501, 19 jewels, 2848-1 sc on backcase in good condition. Is it rare and what would the value of this watch be?
    Thanks for your help! :)

    • says

      Sorry we can’t value a watch from that but typically anything from £100-£450 depending on condition, whether the sale is trade/ retail etc. They aren’t rare but rarity doesn’t really dictate values, collectability does.

  18. Dave says

    Hi there.
    I have a Tissot Turler.automatic Seastar Seven.
    Either 14 or 18 carot gold.
    I think it made in the 60s.
    Full working order.
    How do I get a decent valuation on it. Plus anymore information would be helpful.
    Regards Dave.

    • says

      Hi Dave, The only value worth anything is what similar examples are selling for on the vintage watch market. If you want an insurance valuation, take it to a jeweller who are always only too pleased to tell customers what they want to hear. This value bears no relation to a real world value though. If you want to know what the trade will pay send details and pictures to us through http://www.sellyourwatch.co.uk

  19. christina mcguiness says

    Hi, i have a vintage Fond Acier inoxydable ladies watch No. 900 with leather strap and a Fond Acier inoxydable ladies watch No. 892 without strap.
    Are these valuable at all? not working and would need cleaning.
    many thanks

    • says

      Hi Christina, Fond Acier Inoxydable isn’t a watch make. It means ‘Stainless Steel back’ in French, referring to the material of the watch case back. This also indicates the case is either chrome or gold plated. The maker will be identified from the movement and if the dial is not signed will most likely be a mass produced low quality watch using stock Swiss calibres.

  20. Fiona Hutchinson says

    I am the very proud owner of a 1916 ladies Rolex. I am wanting to know if these watches are suitable for every day and what I should do about it loosing time. It is under warranty but I have had it adjusted once and it has continued to loose time – currently 15 minutes in every day. I will send it back to the shop who have said it is possible to wear every day. I wanted to find out if I am being silly wearing it every day and if I should actually wear it for “best”.

    • says

      100 years old is very old for a wristwatch and I’d certainly advise against everyday wear. The problem now is if you break it, which is all to easy due to dropping it or knocking it and breaking the balance, there are not many options for its repair as spares are no longer obtainable. A loss in time of 15min per day is a big error and not really in the limits in of adjustment of the regulator. Either the hairspring is no longer guided correctly in the regulator pins, damaged, or more likely the cannon pinion is slipping. Take it back to the shop where you bought it and ask them to fix it.

  21. Colin says

    HI! I just received for my 40th birthday a Tissot Visodate Seastar, manual winding. Not seven, not automatic… steel case in perfect working order. The shop done the maintenance on the watch REALLY want’s to buy it…I figure thay had a good reason…! I believe from what I found is a 1961..62? It’s like the link below but I had to replace the glass wich I think on it’s original condition had a magnyfing glass on top of the date…. Is this a rare find? Thanks!

    http://watchopenia.blogspot.ca/2013/12/tissot-visodate-seastar.html

  22. Dan Mccrossan says

    I have a verity mens vintage chronograph with 4049 on the back in very good condition ,it has a new glass fitted ,been serviced last weekand a years warranty.How much is it worth

  23. Clive Mobsby says

    I own a Rolex Gents mid size steel Oyster Speedking Precision with silver dial model 6420 and the case no.527625 which I think indicates a manufacture date of 1947 could you confirm. I have not used it since 1988 when serviced by Rolex,is it worth selling ?

    • says

      That serial number indicates does indicate manufacture in 1947. Is it worth selling? That’s up to you of course but all Rolex watches will have a value. Take it to a Rolex specialist to get it valued.

  24. Andres Aldape says

    Hey
    I have a doubt before I buy an Omega watch. This one have a No nonsense in the advertisement name, what does this mean, also looking at the Vintage Omega webpage I found the watch found with a different color and name, so my concern is that this watch is a fake or maybe it have been refurbished in some way

  25. Lilian Davies says

    Hello,
    I have a 1960s Tudor Royal Oyster watch with Rolex stainless steel strap. Just wondering how much it might be worth. There is a scratch on the glass.

    Thank you

  26. Vanna Brown says

    I have a Huntana mens watch which may be gold but I can’t see a hallmark on the case. Can you tell me anything about Huntana and possible values please

    • says

      It’s not a name I’m familiar with. Literally thousands of ‘dial names’ were used in the Swiss Watch industry which were often just marketing names used to sell mass produced watches. All solid gold cases should carry a recognisable hallmark or purity mark, most likely on the inside of the case.

  27. phil says

    Hi.i have come across a ladies vintage watch which has the name TRESSA on the face along with 17 jewel incabloc.
    On the back it has FOND ACIER INOXYDABLE SWISS 149.
    Havnt been able to find anything online for it..
    Any ideas ?
    Cheers

  28. flaherty says

    Hi I am rather curios about the value of a venus 25 rubis routmaster watch which I have I suspect its not worth much but would value your opinion
    Regards Crawford

  29. Peter Davis says

    Hello
    I have a non working small (30mm diam) pocket watch with the name “Acier” inside the case. Could you tell me if the movement would have been made by this company or were they purely case makers? The case appears to be steel and I am led to believe they manufactured cases for lots of watch makers.
    Thankyou Peter Davis

    • says

      Acier is French for steel. It simply denotes the case material and is not a case makers name. ‘Fond Acier’ means steel back. ‘Fond Acier Inoxydable’ is Stainless steel back. The movement maker is identified by the Ebauche mark under the balance wheel or if this is not present by the visual characteristics of the setting gear.

  30. nick bishop says

    Hi I have inherited an old Oris wrist watch which I am trying to identify.
    I have a few photo’s, where would be the best place to send /post these.

    Thank you

  31. Angela Russell says

    Hello
    My son is going to be 30 on 5th Dec he wants a Tudor Rolex watch silver I was wondering if you could give me some guidance and advise if you have any
    Thank you

    • says

      No such thing as a lunette ladies watch. Lunette refers to the fact the watch is gold plated. It’s usually accompanied by the micron thickness of the plating 10 or 20 micron. The true maker is identified from the maker of the movement which is identified under the balance wheel. It’s unlikely to be worth much sadly unless from a prestigious maker which will have their markings clearly identifiable.

  32. Graham Unsworth says

    My wife has what looks like a 1930s Swiss made watch and it has the name LYDIA printed on the dial. Can you help please?

    • says

      Lydia isn’t a recognised watch company and will be a dial name used at the time probably by a low volume maker or retailer. The maker of the movement will be identified by the mark under the balance wheel.

    • says

      Hi David. Value is really down to what a Smiths collector would pay to add one to his collection. The movement is very crude and doesn’t match the quality of Smith’s prestige models like the Everest. Although not common, I couldn’t really see one making more than £100 sadly.

  33. Dorothy says

    Hello,
    I have a small watch on the back of which is engraved 10 or 18ct (not sure if a 0 or an 8) and the word Acier. It also has a hallmark with a circle and lines around the lower part over the initials BD
    I do know that my uncle (US serviceman) brought this watch, back to England from France after WWII, as a give for my mother
    It worked well until probably the 1980’s but could possibly have been overwound.
    I’m wondering if you could tell me anything about this watch, ie where it may have originated and whether or not it has any value as a vintage piece (not that I’m looking to offload it, would just like a little history).
    Thank you.

  34. Frances says

    I have a very old gold coulered watch with these markings
    Metal/plaque orGarati 40 AVS.
    MBM
    3639
    Any clues if worth anything please

  35. steve hicks says

    We;ve found a ladies Hefik watch amongst some effects and would like to find out more about it. It has a number on it 223170. I wouldn’t think it was worth much but we’d like to know how old it is. There is also a Waltham, an Ingersoll a Seiko Rainbow and some old Seiko’s/Accolade which I’ll find out about later