There is a certain allure to vintage watches, also called pre-owned watches, that new watches just don’t have. Some are no longer in production, making them rare and hard to come by. There are also certain circumstances where some manufacturers only produced a handful of specific models, making them even rarer and harder to find! Maybe you always admired your grandfather’s watch and you want to wear the same model he did. Regardless of the reason, you want to be sure you are shopping for vintage watches San Diego the smart way.
With the abundance of vintage watches San Diego, in stores and online, the risk of being scammed is higher than ever before. The best defense? Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is power; the more knowledge you have about the specific timepiece you are interested in, the more likely you will receive a better deal. To help make your hunt a bit easier, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when shopping pre-owned watches San Diego.
Do Your Research
Oftentimes, when people are shopping for vintage watches San Diego they have a specific watch in mind. If there is a particular watch that you are thinking about purchasing, do as much research on it as you possibly can. Check out different stores and websites to get a feel for the price range. It’s also possible to find books about specific watch brands and models. Note the condition and prices of each watch you find. This will help you to value the watch so you know if you’re getting a good deal or not once you find the watch you want. After a while, you should have a fairly good understanding of the market prices for certain watches depending on the condition they are in. If you feel like a detective after all your sleuthing, you’re definitely doing it right.
Pay Attention to Details
This goes hand in hand with our first tip. While doing your research on the timepiece you desire, you’ll begin to spot minute differences between models. The more you know about the watch you’re interested in, the better chance you will have of getting the real deal. Some fakes, or Frankenwatches (watches with mismatched parts), look almost exactly like the real thing and the differences can be hard for the untrained eye to spot. In certain cases, this can be the difference between spending $5,000 or $10,000 or more.
Condition can be the only differentiator between pre-owned watches and new watches. Vintage watches are more desirable when they are in original condition. Specific details to pay attention to include:
- Dial: The original dial can be one of the most valuable parts of any pre-owned watch. An original dial is worth more than a dial that has been restored or repainted. The main thing to look for on a vintage watch dial is patina. Patina is a green or brown film on the surface of metals produced by oxidation over a long period of time. Black dials that have turned brown or “tropical” over years of wear may be very valuable. You should also pay attention to the condition of the markers and lettering. On a true vintage watch, these may not be perfect.
- Hands: The dial and the hands should be in the same condition. Therefore, the luminescence on both should be the same. If they don’t look the same, chances are the hands or dial have been replaced or repainted, making the watch less valuable.
- Case: Closely examine the case and bracelet/strap of vintage watches. This is where the most danger lies, when clever counterfeits appear to be original parts. Particularly with Rolex watches, the fake gold bracelets are often so well copied that only an expert can tell the difference. It’s always best to have a real expert examine any watch that you are planning to buy online or from a private party.
If any servicing or restoring has been performed on the watch, the seller should disclose this information to you.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
This one is important for a few different reasons. Asking questions is a great way to verify the watch’s authenticity. Don’t be afraid of seeming annoying by asking too many questions. It’s your money- you want to be sure you’re spending it wisely before agreeing to any kind of purchase.
Additionally, asking questions gives you a better feel for the seller and how they conduct business. The way they respond is a huge indicator for how much they actually know about the watch. If they seem uneasy or don’t have an answer to some of your questions, the possibility that the watch is a fake is increased. Some general questions to ask the seller include:
- Is the watch functioning properly? How much time does the watch gain or lose over a 24-hour period?
- What do you know about the ownership history of the watch?
- When was the watch last serviced? Who performed the service and what was done (minor adjustment or complete overhaul)?
- Are the complications working properly? (if applicable)
- Are all the parts original? If not, please describe any parts that have been replaced.
- What is the condition of the movement?
- What is the condition of the dial? Is it original? Has it been refinished, restored, or repainted?
- What is the serial number? What is the reference number?
- Do you have the original box and papers?
Buy the Seller
This is an old collector’s adage, but its veracity remains the same. These days, there are many dealers of pre-owned fine watches out there in the market. It’s important that you find someone you trust when buying vintage watches San Diego. You wouldn’t want to buy a used car from a shady car salesman, right? Shopping for a vintage watch is just the same. You’re not just buying a watch- you’re entrusting this person whom you just met (or never met if purchasing online) to sell you a genuine watch at a reasonable price. Research the seller to confirm their credibility and reputability. Look them up online, read reviews, browse watch forums, even check their social media platforms. Anything that gives you more information on who you’re buying a vintage watch from is helpful.
This can also be very beneficial after you make the purchase. Create a relationship with the seller so you feel comfortable going back to them in the future. If there is an issue with the watch you purchased or you want to purchase another watch, you should feel comfortable returning to this person. Reputable pre-owned watch dealers are great resources to have when you’re looking to buy again or when in need of watch repairs.
All in all, these tips will certainly help you when purchasing vintage watches San Diego. But what it all comes down to is trusting your gut. If your instincts are telling you there is something off about a specific purchase, let it go. Whether you just don’t trust the seller or the price seems too high to you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t risk spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a pre-owned watch if you don’t feel comfortable with the purchase. Another magnificent watch will come your way. Good things take time (pun intended).
This should go without saying, but just to be safe, we’re putting it out there. Never, never purchase a vintage watch without seeing it first! This is a big issue when buying vintage watches online. Sometimes there are only one or two photos on a listing, if any. That’s usually not a good sign. If you can’t go see the watch before paying for it, ask the seller to send more photos. Encourage them to send multiple photos from multiple angles. The seller doesn’t have to be a professional photographer. Multiple decent photos are better than a few great ones. This will at least give you a better idea of the condition of the watch, and hopefully you’ll be able to zoom in to get a better look at the small details.
Where to Shop Vintage Watches San Diego
For the best selection of genuine pre-owned fine watches, visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers in San Diego. Looking for a specific watch? Fill out this form and we’ll help you find it! Just browsing until the right watch catches your eye? Stop by our jewelry store on San Diego Avenue to browse the many different options. Our experts are here to help you find your dream watch and answer any questions you might have along the way. You can rest easy buying a pre-owned watch from Leo’s! All of our pre-owned watches have been meticulously reconditioned by our factory-trained watchmakers and come with a 2-year warranty. And our money-back guarantee takes any worry out of your purchase.