Spending a lot of time in the forums, I see a lot of people ask the question “what model is it?” in reference to their watch.
Reactions to the answer “it doesn’t have one” tend to vary. Some ask “what does it mean?” to which there is but one answer: it means just that. It doesn’t have one.
It generally wasn’t popular until the 1960s to really give a name to a watch, or a model line (collection). Among Swiss brands, Rolex did give names to a lot of watches… but still, most of their watches are known by their reference numbers rather than names (that period, when reference numbers were 5 digits long – tops).
American brands are a different story. Find me a pre-1970 Bulova or Hamilton wristwatch, which doesn’t have a name. Banker, Clipper, President, Senator, and so on…
When you have a vintage watch, the question that without a doubt you will keep asking yourself is: when was my watch made? Now, is dating a watch possible? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Anyway, it’s very useful as a collector to know how to date a watch.
The first thing to check is serial number charts. Sometimes they’re official resources, sometimes they are compiled by brand aficionados. They attempt to combine all the bits of knowledge scattered out there into one, more or less accurate resource.
Magnetic fields are an issue known all too well to watch aficionados. They make quartz movements go haywire. They cause the hairspring of a mechanical movement to stick to itself, causing the watch to run fast beyond measure. Even in the 19th century, great manufacturers like Patek Philippe tried to use hairsprings made of metals less susceptible to magnetism and experimented with various alloys. But here, we’re talking about high-end manufacturers. And what about the affordable brands?
Well, that’s where it gets interesting.
When you go through the auction sites, seeking to buy a vintage watch, it’s beyond a doubt that what will catch your eye are the pieces, which look as if they have rolled out of the factory only yesterday.
In some cases, these might be specimens, which survived a few decades in a truly immaculate condition. Sometimes you’re dealing with timepieces, which have never been sold. Or at least never have been worn by whoever bought them these few decades ago.
But in a vast majority of cases, these dials are repainted.
So, how to spot a redial? Well, that’s the good question, isn’t it?