3 Tips for Buying an Authentic Vintage Pocket Watch

pocket watch

If you are currently in the market to purchase a pocket watch and you’ve already narrowed your choice down to something timeless (yes, a pun!) and authentically vintage –you’re on the right track in my opinion.

Knowledge is of course, always, your best weapon when it comes to making a purchase that you are somewhat unfamiliar with the product itself. If this is your first pocket watch purchase, this guide is designed to help you navigate some of the basic challenges that are associated to the purchase of Sydney’s finest antique pocket watches like those from Kalmar Antiques.

Why Choose a Vintage Pocket Watch Instead of a New One?

I have been collecting vintage pocket watches for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how the quality of yesterday’s authentic vintage models completely destroy the level of quality, durability, and care required to maintain a modern, contemporary pocket watch.

That is not to say that all newer pocket watches are terribly designed or made; for me it’s about the manufacturing process, design, and materials used. Modern pocket watches are constructed out of shallower materials and designed for thrift. They’re almost cartoonesque; a watch pretending to be a watch for the sake of style and not function –a caricature of itself.

Second, there’s no history in the modern pocket watch. Which, doesn’t need to matter, but it sure does for me. Newer watches are bought and sold and given away to people chasing that classic authenticity of a bygone era, and yet they are completely bankrupt imposters.

So, aside from the craftsmanship and the idea of the authentic vintage pocket watch –it also boils down to a keen eye. I enjoy the challenge of selecting the right pocket watch and spotting imperfections myself. And with this in mind, here are a few pointers to purchase authentic vintage pocket watches –one or many—on your own with little problems.

Authentic Vintage Pocket Watch Buying Tips

  1. No Sealing

Vintage pocket watches were traditionally not sealed, meaning that dirt and remnants from your pocket could get inside and wreak havoc on the moving parts inside. Over time, and I am not being puny this time, these little bits of dirt and sand can jam up parts, or break them altogether.

If your watch has been sitting in a drawer for 50 years, we recommend getting it cleaned by a professional after purchase, or it could very well be ticking down to its own destruction.

  1. Different Coloured Plates and Gears

If the colours inside your vintage pocket watch seem like nothing matches –they’re probably from a hodge-podge of different watches, mixed and matched, and with varying quality. These watches leave much to chance, and may not last long. And their value is dramatically lower than those with all their original parts.

  1. Yellow Crystals

Pocket watches from the early days of using plastic instead of mineral or lead glass are as shoddy as they sound (and appear). Quality crystals don’t change colour and worse yet is that the plastic crystals can leech acids that slowly deteriorate the rest of the watch. Australian antique dealers are not all created equal, so choose wisely.

In Summary

We will likely post on this theme from time to time, but these are my top 3 pet peeves when looking at what some watch retailers try to pass off as “authentic vintage”. Do you have any experiences of your own? Please share them in the comments.


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