How to Collect Vintage Watches #2

 In Collecting Watches, Tutorials

In part 1 of 2, I started with a checklist of 5 important tips on how to collect vintage watches. I discussed the style and movement in part 1. This 2nd part will be on matching, case material, and the price.

To read part 1 of 2 click here

#3: Match

I included matching because your watch(es) should match with you. They should match your activities, they should match your outfit etc. If you’re a truck driver you probably haven’t much need for dress watches. Maybe you could add one to the collection for special occasions but that’s probably it.

If you’re an accountant and you wear business suits all day you might think that a funky 70s diver looks great but truthfully a dress watch would look better with a suit.

When you match your watches to your person they will be a better fit and you’ll enjoy them more.

#4: Case material

Case material is mostly a matter of personal taste. There are some exotic materials but I’d like to stick to chrome plated, gold plated, solid gold and stainless steel. Silver can also be found but only on older trench watches.


Chrome plated and gold plated are the “cheapest” options. The case will be of some sort of base metal (mostly brass) with a thin layer of chromium or gold. Often on gold plated watches the thickness of the gold layer will be indicated in microns with a number between lugs, for example, 20 microns.

Vintage watch

Gold plated 1956 Longines vintage watch with 12.68Z movement.

Chrome plated Roamer vintage watch

Chrome plated cushionstyle Roamer

Over the years, the chromium or gold layer will tend to wear down and get damaged. This will begin to show the base metal underneath so the wear and tear will be quite obvious. For this reason, some collectors will avoid a gold plated or chrome plated vintage watch.

Solid gold

Timepieces with a solid gold (different colors and karats are possible) case are normally the most expensive. All gold is stamped and/or hallmarked as required by the country of origins government. The karats that are most often found are 9, 14 and 18 karats. 14 and 18 karats are the most usual, 9 karats is mainly British. Watches with a golden case are worth at least the weight in gold.

how to collect vintage watches

14 karat golden Longines case

Stainless steel

Stainless steel and chrome plated look quite similar but are very different. Both contain chrome because stainless steel is an alloy that contains chromium. However, because stainless steel is an alloy it’s harder and less prone to dents and scratches than chrome plating. Stainless steel is also heavier than a similar chrome plated piece. Chrome plating has more luster and is shinier than stainless steel but because of the other properties stainless steel is preferred by collectors and often warrants a premium.

how to collect vintage watches

Stainless steel Tissot PR516 GL

#5: Price

The last thing that’ll influence your choice is, of course, the price. It’s easier said than done but it’s best to have (a lot of) patience. Sometimes it will take a while until the right watch crosses your path. Or perhaps the right watch does become available to you but there’s no good deal to be made.

A good way to determine the right price for you is to look at recent auctions, forums, filter sold items on Ebay etcetera. You’ll have to consider the condition of the piece you have your eyes on and also factor in a possible repair or service. All info combined should give you an estimate on what you could pay for it.

Sometimes it’s hard but if the price ain’t right, the price ain’t right. Stick to it and eventually, you’ll find your perfect next vintage watch for the right price.

Feel free to share this article with anyone who might need some help on how to collect vintage watches.

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