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Hi guys.

I want to visit some antique shops around the city to find a good vintage watch. I don't know a lot about watches, so please go easy.

This forum was the first place I even heard about Omega and Patek. My parents loved Seiko, and has always bought Seikos. I want to be a bit different and get a good vintage with quality. Being an avid user of reddit.com, I've come across their "thrift store guide" which lists the higher brands that I should look for if I'm getting anything used, just because the brand is trustworthy and synonymous with quality.

I've come across a couple of Longines for cheap at the auction I was attending, but I knew nil about them, so I didn't even budge. So I'm requesting some inputs to create a list I could follow myself. Right now, I'm only looking out for Omega, Hamilton or Mido watches. What are some big names easily found in a vintage collection?
 

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Welcome to this mad indulgence!

What I can see is a typical situation facing the novice: not knowing what one sees. There are several ways to look at it:

First of all, by nature you would never know what you would find at an antique shop, or collectors fair, etc. There might be some fine pieces by the great constructors at good prices but if you do not know you might have pass them up. One way to do it is to concentrate on a few marques, learn as much about them as possible, and simply ignore the others even if they are good; this is the specialist approach, where the saying "you won't miss what you don't know" applies.

There is also the generalist approach, where you make yourself familiar with a wide range of good marques; those you do not know might not be of enough merits to justify your monetary investment. It goes without saying that between these two logical extremes is a huge grey area, and I feel that most vintage collectors are somewhere within this scale.

Taking myself as example: my specialist interest in Russian watches, but still familiar with a fair number of the good brands outside Russia. Occasionally I find an interesting Swiss (or whatever) watch that I believe is worth my $2 - or $20 so I have no hesitation in getting it.

A thought, if you may: there is no such thing as an exhaustive list, and even if it exist and you remember it off by heart you will still get some duds, and miss out on other great pieces. What I say sometimes is that you need to develop a degree of connoisseurship, where you can more or less figure out the merits of a totally unfamiliar piece. It will come in time, if you have a chance to see enough of them; checking eBay listing is a good start to get the raw materials to develop the "seeing eye". But please do not be in a hurry to acquire, and for now, resist the temptation to over-spend; I know of many experienced collectors getting costly duds. The main thing is: enjoy the journey!
 

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Glad to read that you are interested in vintage watches, a price guide would help as you probably know omegas can start $200 and up. I could say a really good omega would be a Connie, but then for more money I could say a omega speedmaster pro classic look but still looks modern with a fantastic movement. Some great buys would be vintage tis sot some on here could provide more info which ones to look out for, but some people on here say they were just as good as omegas and some say better then omega. Some really good buys are roamers never even looked or heard of a Roamer watch till I came on here. People on here are very helpful so if you see something that takes your fancy post here and get the info first for the good points and bad points.
 

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Hi There

Seele makes some very good points.... and at the end of the day... it comes down to research, experience and time!

Some names you may want to look out for (along with the ones you have, inc Longines) are:

Buren,
Cyma,
Eterna,
Elgin,
Gruen,
Roamer,
Tissot,
Universal,
Waltham,
Zenith,

Thats a few to get you started... but its only scratching the surface! You may be lucky and find a Pakek or Rolex going cheap.... but i doubt it! For every one bargain watch, there are a 1000 watch nuts trying to snap it up (I may have made up that stat!!)


A warning.... most of the watches above are good quality, that command good prices.... as a result, there are copies, fakes, frankiens out there..... So if you have any doubts... do some more research or ask on here for some advice first!!!... As you may think you are getting a bargain... but in fact, its a dud!

Good luck!

Marc
 

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Some names you may want to look out for (along with the ones you have, inc Longines) are:

Buren,
Cyma,
Eterna,
Elgin,
Gruen,
Roamer,
Tissot,
Universal,
Waltham,
Zenith,
For a second I thought it was a grocery list...might as well add "milk and eggs" to it and go shopping.
 

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... For every one bargain watch, there are a 1000 watch nuts trying to snap it up (I may have made up that stat!!)
"88.2% of Statistics are made up on the spot" - Vic Reeves.;-)
 

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+Certina
+Enicar

The brands in Sparcster's list are manufacturers who 'usually' made their own movements. This in the eyes of many is a considerable plus. Of course such a brand name is not guarantee of an inhouse movement - for example, Later Swiss Walthams and Elgins etc. You need to do a little research on dates and styles if this aspect is of interest to you.

* Edited.
 

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The majority of movements in Marrick's list
Im happy to be mistaken for Marrick.... but the 'top cat' may not be so happy..... ;-)


I thought all on the list manufactured atleast 1 of their own 'in-house' movements...... :-s



Marc
 

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Sorry, posting/reading things on this tiny little phone is hard! I have fixed the original post - hopefully no significant bruising occurred.
I can always forgive you Trim!
 

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Just be careful of brands that mimic well known brands i.e - Hormilton, Aseikon are a couple that come to mind.
 

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The majority of movements in Marrick's list are manufacturers who made their own movements. This in the eyes of many is a considerable plus.
In the Formula One racing world, there are two unofficial classes of teams, one is the "grand constrittore", the other is the "assemblatore". The former refers to the teams who build everything as far as possible, especially engine and transmission, while the latter use bought-in engines and perhaps more. While assemblatore teams could do just as well as the grand constrittore teams, they're considered to be somewhat "lesser" for not doing the hard work needed to build engines.

You can see a parallel in the watch business. There are firms who are highly regarded for having the competence to design and build their own movements, but then as now, there're no shortage of movement suppliers, case makers, dial makers, and OEM assemblers willing to build watches for any Tom Dick and Harry with whatever name he wants to put on the dial.

And this is the problem facing the novice collector. I'd wager that at any antique shop with a tray of vintage mechanical watches, more than half of them would be these types with retailers or distributors labels, and it would not be easy to make sure what is ticking under the hood. In fact some well-known brands also use off-the-rack movements too.

For example, just more than a month ago I bought a watch branded J. Farren-Price in poor mechanical condition; nobody outside Australia has ever heard of this brand. But it is a private brand sold by a renown high-end Sydney jeweller of the same name and it's worthy of the investment for my being a Sydneysider. It turned out to have a decent A. Schild movement and after a service and fitting of a new crystal it becomes very agreeable too. If it did not have the JFP brand on it I would not have touched it.
 

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IMO, vintage Omega is your sweet spot on the price/quality matrix. Longines is a close runner up.
 

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It's also one of the most commonly faked. Whilst buying at an antiques shop ought to be a bit safer, you really need to know your Omega's before laying out the cash for one.
 

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IMO, vintage Omega is your sweet spot on the price/quality matrix. Longines is a close runner up.
Unfortunately, those are also sweet spots on the fake/franken matrix.

Wanting a vintage watch is admirable, and naturally you'll find no end of enthusiasm on this particular forum. But if you're just looking for a watch to wear (as opposed to embracing our madness as collectors), your best bet is to find a respectable watchmaker, and pump him/her for information. There's a lot more to owning a vintage watch then just buying a vintage watch, and a lot more to buying a vintage watch then just shopping for one. If you don't have someone who can service the movement, then you shouldn't even bother, because it'll either get destroyed or wind up as a non-working paperweight.

If you still have the desire for vintage at this point, the key is research, research, research. Look at watches that you like; narrow down styles and identify brands associated with them, then research the brands. Its easy to say "Omega" or "Longines" 'cause they're well known, but if you're looking for something "different" there are literally thousands of brands that offer comparable quality at better price points.
 

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Its easy to say "Omega" or "Longines" 'cause they're well known, but if you're looking for something "different" there are literally thousands of brands that offer comparable quality at better price points.
I've told you a million times not to exaggerate.
 

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try for Niton, Ekegren, Agassiz, Touchon. Also, keep an eye out for platnium or solid white gold Hamiltons. be warned- avoid those that have diamonds on the dial. they are jobber cases.
 

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I don't know if this one was mentioned anywhere, but another brand to look for is "I.W.C". ("International Watch Company") watches.
 

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Not my advice but one from the watch maker I use (40+ years in the trade). He rates vintage Longines and rates them above Rolex for one reason mentioned in several posts. All of their components were made in-house to very high standards. I never argue with him, my watch repair prices just go up. Good luck and as you have been advised do some decent research before jumping in.

Plus the watchseek members are brilliant, I know that from personal experience.


"Watchseek people, was that enough crawling"
 
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