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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to buy my first vintage watch and start up a collection. I really like the look of this watch (and other older Gruens as well as Hamiltons) the dealer seems reputable and says it has been "restored." I'm guessing that means the dial has been refinished. Does such a restoration lower the value of a watch? Is this worth more than $150-200?

Thanks!
 

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I'm guessing that means the dial has been refinished. Does such a restoration lower the value of a watch?

Is this worth more than $150-200?
lower the value: Yes... but sometimes you have to do it if the dial was a disaster. It looks like a nice clean job.

Is this worth: Only if someone will pay that for it...


But John will soon be around and will give definitive answers ... except on the valuation. That's not done here... see the sitckies (beat you to it John!)

Gruens and Hamiltons are WONDERFUL watches to start with (and even end with) in vintage collecting. They were the best of their era and can be had for close to their original selling price!!

My watchmaker's eyes just lit up when I brought in my first Hamilton. He just loves working on them. (He's doing a COA on a family heirloom 1940 Hamilton... I was amazed it even worked let alone kept accurate time after sitting in a drawer for 30 years... "Of course, it's a Hamilton!" he said.)
 

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It looks like a really fine, restored example - - maybe late 1920s even. I would also make sure the inside of the caseback is also Gruen signed. Great pick!
 

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I think you've got pretty good advice so far. Tom may be right and it could be 1920s although I was thinking more 1930s.
JohnF is our Gruen expert so I'll leave it up to him for the definitive answer.
Note that a good dial restoration - while it may lower value - is not of real concern unless you are investing in very high end watches. All that matters is if you enjoy the vintage piece. Just make sure it's serviced and in good running condition. Generally we don't advise anyone to redo the dial unless it's illegible, but in this case... :-s
And you can't go wrong with Hamiltons - all American ones that is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies guys, I'm guessing its really hard to get a good "deal" on a vintage watch since most dealers probably know what they are worth before they list them. This would be a daily wearer though, I like the look of it, here's to hoping I get it for a decent price!
 

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Thanks for the replies guys, I'm guessing its really hard to get a good "deal" on a vintage watch since most dealers probably know what they are worth before they list them. This would be a daily wearer though, I like the look of it, here's to hoping I get it for a decent price!
Not true. Or rather, it's true that SOME dealers don't know what they're selling. Just today I took delivery on a Hamilton I bought for a fraction of it's value. Fortunately for me, the seller didn't state the model name (rare and desirable) in his listing. If he had, it would have drawn the collector crowd. The cheap expansion band in the photos also served to obscure its identity. :)
 

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Tom,
Is it true there is a thin line between jealousy and hate?

Remembering your recent beautiful aquisitions (Hammy Wilshire and Longines), I would hate you if i hadn't had my first winner with a NOS Lord Elgin.

So I'll settle for jealous...
John
 

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Tom,
Is it true there is a thin line between jealousy and hate?

Remembering your recent beautiful aquisitions (Hammy Wilshire and Longines), I would hate you if i hadn't had my first winner with a NOS Lord Elgin.

So I'll settle for jealous...
John
See PM...:)
 

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Hi -

It's a lovely restored late 1920s/early 1930s vintage Gruen. The "Gruen Guild" movement is of particular interest, as it dates from the cooperation that Gruen and several other companies had with Aegler, who of course was in turn acquired by Rolex: this is not your average movement. :)

Hard to identify the actual movement, though, as Gruen destroyed its documentation in a fit of corporate stupidity after a management buy-out in the late 1950s. Ranfft only has the 876 movement in his database, but this is definitely not one of those.

Now to the dial. While it's always best to have a perfect unrestored dial, this is one of the better redials I've seen: very, very clean from the photo. The hands are period and work very, very, well: the seconds hand is a tad beat, but that is par for the course.

Congratulations on an excellent find. We don't, of course, do valuations, Having the restored face does hit the resale value significantly, but given the high quality of the movement it should continue to command a decent price.

JohnF
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi -

It's a lovely restored late 1920s/early 1930s vintage Gruen. The "Gruen Guild" movement is of particular interest, as it dates from the cooperation that Gruen and several other companies had with Aegler, who of course was in turn acquired by Rolex: this is not your average movement. :)

Hard to identify the actual movement, though, as Gruen destroyed its documentation in a fit of corporate stupidity after a management buy-out in the late 1950s. Ranfft only has the 876 movement in his database, but this is definitely not one of those.

Now to the dial. While it's always best to have a perfect unrestored dial, this is one of the better redials I've seen: very, very clean from the photo. The hands are period and work very, very, well: the seconds hand is a tad beat, but that is par for the course.

Congratulations on an excellent find. We don't, of course, do valuations, Having the restored face does hit the resale value significantly, but given the high quality of the movement it should continue to command a decent price.

JohnF
Thanks for the great info John. Unfortunately I didn't win the auction, it went for $300. Here is another restored one but the dial doesn't look as nice as the first one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=320208631369&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=011

I would probably be willing to shell out 300 bucks for such a nice watch but the bright green numerals ruin it IMHO. I guess I wait!
 

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I agree... the dial is strange looking with the bright green lume (I assume it's lume). And it is a "14 kt gold reinforced with metal" wadsworth case... I've not seen that terminology before. I suppose 14 kt RGP would meet that description too...

Patience is a virtue in watch collecting.... or, at least, a real money saver!
 

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I agree... the dial is strange looking with the bright green lume (I assume it's lume). And it is a "14 kt gold reinforced with metal" wadsworth case... I've not seen that terminology before. I suppose 14 kt RGP would meet that description too...

Patience is a virtue in watch collecting.... or, at least, a real money saver!
I saw that terminology once before - - I think it was typical in the 1920s. I also concluded it just meant RGP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I agree... the dial is strange looking with the bright green lume (I assume it's lume). And it is a "14 kt gold reinforced with metal" wadsworth case... I've not seen that terminology before. I suppose 14 kt RGP would meet that description too...

Patience is a virtue in watch collecting.... or, at least, a real money saver!
Its a shame that they ruined the restoration in that fashion.

I took John's advice and went for a Gruen Guild movement and picked up the attached watch! It was $50 cheaper than the restored watch I first posted, for a total price of $250. Maybe I overpaid but I like it and this one seems to be all original including the dial. Will take some of my own pictures when it arrives!

My first vintage watch :)
 

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Hi -

Congtratulations on an excellent start in collecting vintages!

Of course, the first caveat applies: the movement, from the pictures, looks to be in need of a good cleaning.

As to "over"paying, I've found that you can always try to find a better deal, but at some point you simply have to cease looking and buy at the price you are willing to pay. I've seen several watches that I paid more for go for less, but more often than not in much worse shape.

And a recommendation: find yourself a good, qualified, professional watchmaker to have your watches worked on AND as someone who can help you learn about what you are collecting.

When acquiring a vintage, I always plan on having a watchmaker do some work on it and budget appropriately. You can postpone this by not actually wearing the watch, but given the general paucity of watchmakers and the fact that they aren't getting any cheaper, the sooner you get something cleaned and adjusted, the better.

Again, congrats!

JohnF
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi -

Congtratulations on an excellent start in collecting vintages!

Of course, the first caveat applies: the movement, from the pictures, looks to be in need of a good cleaning.

As to "over"paying, I've found that you can always try to find a better deal, but at some point you simply have to cease looking and buy at the price you are willing to pay. I've seen several watches that I paid more for go for less, but more often than not in much worse shape.

And a recommendation: find yourself a good, qualified, professional watchmaker to have your watches worked on AND as someone who can help you learn about what you are collecting.

When acquiring a vintage, I always plan on having a watchmaker do some work on it and budget appropriately. You can postpone this by not actually wearing the watch, but given the general paucity of watchmakers and the fact that they aren't getting any cheaper, the sooner you get something cleaned and adjusted, the better.

Again, congrats!

JohnF
The fellow in the auction stated:

"just professional serviced (meaning cleaned, oiled, and properly regulated)"

I wonder if I should question him on this? The movement doesn't look so clean, I thought maybe that was just age.
 

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The fellow in the auction stated:

"just professional serviced (meaning cleaned, oiled, and properly regulated)"

I wonder if I should question him on this? The movement doesn't look so clean, I thought maybe that was just age.
Sometimes they lie! Your watchmaker can tell you if they think it is dirty where it counts... Unless I am dealing with a vendor I trust, I always get my mechanicals serviced after purchase. 90% of the watches I buy I intend to keep so it is a form of insurance.
 

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Hi -

Ditto to what Eeeb said. Trust, but verify.

I always say, when dealing with eBay, that you have to buy the seller, not just the watch. Your watchmaker can verify whether it is as described: this is always worth more money (as it saves you money) and there are, unfortunately, more than enough folks out there who take a watch that hasn't seen a watchmaker in 50 years and insist that their watchmaker just did yeoman's work on it and it will be fine for the next 100 years, while in reality they just hope that you don't notice how bad the shape really is until after the point where you can give them negative feedback.

One of my biggest disappointments on eBay was a watch that wound beautifully and smoothly, the hands moved silkily, but the watch was wildly erratic in terms of time-keeping: my watchmaker said the seller had basically oiled the watch heavily in order to get it working, but knew so little about watchmaking that he had also oiled the balance spring.

And of course the watch hadn't been cleaned before hand. Unfortunately, this was at an early stage of my collecting and I had already given the seller a positive rating on eBay, and he was extremely obnoxious (of the "you are so stupid and I'm so smart, I pulled one on you" type) about it. Wasn't worth pursuing, and he no longer sells on eBay after getting something like 30 negative ratings from others, so I guess there is *some* justice out there... :)

JohnF
 

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A fabulous watch. Nice find. you actually outbid me on it. A few things to note. This looks like a very good dial, but may also be a refinished dial. Many redials leave off the word SWITZERLAND on the very bottom (under the "6"). Also, there most likely would have originally been luminous glass in the hands. Still. A fabulous watch. Gruen was a top notch company and their worst (which this is certainly NOT!!) is better than most others high end.

Enjoy your watch.

I would also be interested to know if you can tell me who did the dial refinish on your originally posted watch (the one you didn't buy). I need a dial redone. I'm pretty asgainst a refinish and I love the patena, but someone scratched the dial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A fabulous watch. Nice find. you actually outbid me on it. A few things to note. This looks like a very good dial, but may also be a refinished dial. Many redials leave off the word SWITZERLAND on the very bottom (under the "6"). Also, there most likely would have originally been luminous glass in the hands. Still. A fabulous watch. Gruen was a top notch company and their worst (which this is certainly NOT!!) is better than most others high end.

Enjoy your watch.

I would also be interested to know if you can tell me who did the dial refinish on your originally posted watch (the one you didn't buy). I need a dial redone. I'm pretty asgainst a refinish and I love the patena, but someone scratched the dial.
Hi thanks, if I had known someone else here was bidding I probably wouldn't have gone into a bidding war!! The dial on the original watch was stated as redone by International Dial:

http://www.internationaldialco.com/

Anyways I ended up getting annoyed and ordered some books on watchmaking and plan on picking up some old dials to tinker with. If I can learn how to do some minor restoration and cleaning it seems like it might be worth the effort.
 
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