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Past Time Costs

25 July 2016
closeup old clock

One of the most passed-down heirlooms is the watch. This is a fairly outdated concept in the world of mini computers in our pockets but many see a watch as a mark of distinction, distinguishing the lord and lady from the masses. If you are given a watch carrying the name Rolex, Omega or Patek Phillippe, you would be forgiven for getting excited. Surely, you have hit upon the Rembrandt of the chronograph world. Not necessarily – but, still maybe…

The vintage watch market is an improving area of antiques. Even names such as Universal Geneve, Eniccar and Movado are commanding some serious dosh – so brandish a Rolex and you might get a good bit of interest. Gold is making a resurgence after its reputation was slightly tarnished by the giving of gold watches to men retiring from good, if slightly dull, careers. Now obviously, gold watches carry value because gold is priced well in itself. However, it is now acknowledged that the gold watch is the preferred accessory for dress events. Yet, surprisingly maybe, steel watches are still craved more in the world market – mostly for their utilitarian yet clean, sharp look.

There are a number of considerations before seeking a sale of your heirloom. First: condition. As with any antique, quality sells. Does the watch work? This is an obvious question. Does the watch have all its original parts? This is maybe more concerning. Replacement straps will devalue a watch. There may even be replacement working parts inside the watch itself. This will stop your watch from being listed as an authentic original brand. Do you have the service history or provenance of the piece? A full-service history on its own could add thousands to a watch. People used to treat their watches like we treat our cars – always worth doing with something that could potentially be the same price as a decent sports car!

Before selling, you might want to seek a ballpark valuation for yourself. If you go to or you will see thousands of listings for vintage watches – new or old. You should always seek out the average: discard over-the-top valuations and low valuations and you are likely somewhere realistic for your heirloom.

Realistically, though, if you think you have a real star of a timepiece, you should give it over to an expert to value. Valuing time is a tricky business and handing it over to a lord of the field is going to give you astronomical returns. Time-lord pun intended, of course.

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