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Discussion Starter #1
Dear all,

I was browsing the net and found this very affordable dresswatch from the 1940's ($30).

Case looks to be in decent shape, with only minor marks of aging 70 years. The movement looks to be a bit rough, although I'm not sure what to look out for when looking at movements.

This is where I might need your help. The advertisement states the watch is in running order, but I don't know if this is a safe buy, or if it might break after a week. Can anyone tell if something appears off about this movement? I personally see what looks like two empty screw holes for perhaps the movement clamps? Anything else to look out for? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

vwatch.JPG

Thank you!
 

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I think the biggest thing to ask is it just running or has it been serviced and is running as it should? My guess from the photo is that it has not been serviced and you should expect it to stop running, not because it is broken, but because it is necessary to service vintage watches, especially if they have been sitting about for years of decades.
If it hasn't been serviced, the fact that it is running is a great sign but be sure to factor in the cost of a service into your purchase price.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think the biggest thing to ask is it just running or has it been serviced and is running as it should? My guess from the photo is that it has not been serviced and you should expect it to stop running, not because it is broken, but because it is necessary to service vintage watches, especially if they have been sitting about for years of decades.
If it hasn't been serviced, the fact that it is running is a great sign but be sure to factor in the cost of a service into your purchase price.
Thank you for the useful information!

The decription states it is 'running nicely', and also that it has been tested for accuracy which is +/- 20 seconds per day. Definitely no chronometre but hey it's a vintage watch :roll:

I will follow up with the seller to be sure when the last service was.
 

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From the anecdotes on here, sometimes a seller's "serviced" means they put a drop of oil on all of the pivots on the side of the movement that's showing. Any watch I've sent off with surface rust and grime came back without rust and grime. I can see some rust and grime on that one, so I'd be suspicious and send it out to a trusted watchmaker anyway.

Agree with MoreWatches that the fact it's running at all means there's a good chance of it being in good shape after a service.
 

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For $30 you will not get a serviced watch and wearing a watch like that will only ruin it. There are people like me that fix old watches and sell them for ca $100 and up so that is the price point you should consider.

0007.jpg
This was the latest I fixed up for myself.

The watch I'm working on right now is a Tissot PR 516 GL for order on the cheap. That means I take genuine Tissot parts form several wrecked watches to build one good one and by doing so can more then half the price. A $400 watch for $150 is not to bad. :)
 

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Hi there,

...this very affordable dresswatch from the 1940's ($30).
Obviously you didn't read this page: Ranfft Watches, Second Timepiece
Its short conclusion is: The cheapest watch is always the most expensive in the end. The naked figures in this case: A comparable watch in mint condition would cost you $80, while it would cost you $500 to restore the affordable watch to mint condition. So $30 was actually $450 too much.

But don't worry, a hobby has nothing to do with math or economy. So if you enjoy this rusty thingy, $30 is a low price for long lasting pleasure.

Regard, Roland Ranfft
 

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Roland has hit the nail on the head.

If you want a reliably working timepiece always expect to add the cost of a service to the purchase price. The rougher the watch looks, the more chance there is that you'll waste both the purchase price and the cost of the service.

On the other hand, if you're happy to take a punt, if you're happy that it's probably not going to last and if you're happy to abuse an old piece of horology, then buy it, wear it, shrug your shoulders and smile.
:)
 

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Out of my 100+ sub £40 mainly 60s 70s watches, 2 had issues when I received them:
a new old stock Zim Pobeda with no remaining lubrication

and my 1970s Smiths with rubbish power reserve (needed a new mainspring)


Not a bad hit rate :)
The key is to find an affordable watchmaker: I got mine to service the ones I decided were keepers after a few wears

Tips:
- Don’t buy watches with significant dial damage, it’s not an easy fix
- Don’t buy watches with the regulator lever (the top one, often marked +/-*) way off centre) Can be sign of worn parts that’ll need replacement
- Don’t buy watches with corroded movement parts
- I personally don’t buy watches with dirty movements either (a sign it’s not been serviced/ cared for)

* F/S fast/slow
A/R avance/retard on yours

Good luck!
Looking forward to pics when your watch arrives
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Out of my 100+ sub £40 mainly 60s 70s watches, 2 had issues when I received them:
Not a bad hit rate :)
The key is to find an affordable watchmaker: I got mine to service the ones I decided were keepers after a few wears

Tips:
- Don’t buy watches with significant dial damage, it’s not an easy fix
- Don’t buy watches with the regulator lever (the top one, often marked +/-*) way off centre) Can be sign of worn parts that’ll need replacement
- Don’t buy watches with corroded movement parts
- I personally don’t buy watches with dirty movements either (a sign it’s not been serviced/ cared for)

* F/S fast/slow
A/R avance/retard on yours

Good luck!
Looking forward to pics when your watch arrives
Thanks for the advice.

I might give it a shot especially as I'm intrigued by this, relatively affordable, war-era wristwatch. I like the patina and would love to own such an old watch with so much history.
However I'm afraid to spend too much on it on services. I asked around the watch dealers (I don't know of any local watchmakers) in town and all have third party watchmakers whose cheapest rate I have found was €100 for a basic service.
I'm not sure whether this is a normal, decent value, however I do not feel like I would want to spend €100+ on another watch (I've got a few too many at this point :roll:).

What are your thoughts, as far as you can give them, on this movement as shown in the image? As you said, the regulator lever appears to be quite centered, so that must be a good sign right?
And I don't know whether the visible spots on the movement are just regular wear on movement parts, or whether they are significantly corroded.

Another thing that concerns me, I asked the seller who told me he doesn't know the history of the watch, and doesn't know when it was last serviced. This leads me to believe it is a guaranteed necessity to service the watch so I might let this one slide.

I know I sound hella guilty of not wanting to service a watch (even though it is a basic need for (older) mechanical watches), but hey, I too like to live dangerously ;-)

Also, your 2% fault rate does intrigue me ...
 

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The movement is filthy, as expected for the vast majority of cheap vintage watches that haven't been serviced in decades. If you don't want to pay 100 Euro to service the watch, you can just buy it to look at it and admire it as a conversation piece. And then if you like it enough, you might decide to service it in the future.
 

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Dear all,

I was browsing the net and found this very affordable dresswatch from the 1940's ($30).

Case looks to be in decent shape, with only minor marks of aging 70 years. The movement looks to be a bit rough, although I'm not sure what to look out for when looking at movements.

This is where I might need your help. The advertisement states the watch is in running order, but I don't know if this is a safe buy, or if it might break after a week. Can anyone tell if something appears off about this movement? I personally see what looks like two empty screw holes for perhaps the movement clamps? Anything else to look out for? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

View attachment 14220499

Thank you!
I don't know what you mean by "on the internet", but I was in the same place you are now not too long ago. Most of my purchases have been on ebay (which actually has pretty good protections for buyers) and have been < $50. I just got a Swiss Carvelle automatic for $19 and all it needed was a polish for the badly scratched dial.

Always ask for a pic of the movement. I'm not afraid to buy a watch that has a lot of scratches on the outside, but I prefer watches that have movements that look clean. Ask if the watch sets, winds and runs properly. Look at the seller rating if you're on ebay and the number of ratings - an established seller with thousands of ratings with a 99% positive is better than a seller with only a few dozen ratings with 100%. I've had only a few (3) that turned out to be real bummers. When I requested a return for a watch that was bad when I got it, they all accepted the return - even the ones that said they don't allow returns!

I like moderately priced watch brands. I like watches that have scratched crystals - because I know sandpaper and Polywatch will fix that. I like watches that are inexpensive because you risk little but the rewards can be great...to myself if no one else!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don't know what you mean by "on the internet", but I was in the same place you are now not too long ago. Most of my purchases have been on ebay (which actually has pretty good protections for buyers) and have been < $50. I just got a Swiss Carvelle automatic for $19 and all it needed was a polish for the badly scratched dial.

Always ask for a pic of the movement. I'm not afraid to buy a watch that has a lot of scratches on the outside, but I prefer watches that have movements that look clean. Ask if the watch sets, winds and runs properly. Look at the seller rating if you're on ebay and the number of ratings - an established seller with thousands of ratings with a 99% positive is better than a seller with only a few dozen ratings with 100%. I've had only a few (3) that turned out to be real bummers. When I requested a return for a watch that was bad when I got it, they all accepted the return - even the ones that said they don't allow returns!

I like moderately priced watch brands. I like watches that have scratched crystals - because I know sandpaper and Polywatch will fix that. I like watches that are inexpensive because you risk little but the rewards can be great...to myself if no one else!
Wise words.
I found this one on Chrono24. Unfortunately this seller doesn't actually appear to have reviews, or Chrono24 does not allow reviews for private sellers.
I think I might pass on this purchase.
 
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I don't know what you mean by "on the internet", but I was in the same place you are now not too long ago. Most of my purchases have been on ebay (which actually has pretty good protections for buyers) and have been < $50. I just got a Swiss Carvelle automatic for $19 and all it needed was a polish for the badly scratched dial.

Always ask for a pic of the movement. I'm not afraid to buy a watch that has a lot of scratches on the outside, but I prefer watches that have movements that look clean. Ask if the watch sets, winds and runs properly. Look at the seller rating if you're on ebay and the number of ratings - an established seller with thousands of ratings with a 99% positive is better than a seller with only a few dozen ratings with 100%. I've had only a few (3) that turned out to be real bummers. When I requested a return for a watch that was bad when I got it, they all accepted the return - even the ones that said they don't allow returns!

I like moderately priced watch brands. I like watches that have scratched crystals - because I know sandpaper and Polywatch will fix that. I like watches that are inexpensive because you risk little but the rewards can be great...to myself if no one else!
There is lots of good advice here, and obscure watches can be excellent values, especially if you look for signs of quality, such as stainless steel cases, fully-jeweled movements, etc. However, if you don't know what you are looking for, you can fall into the trap of buying watches with pin-lever movements and low-quality cases for the same price. And as the OP has already discovered, the cost of service may become the limiting factor.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here is a sub $40 watch + $110 service on a $700 bracelet.

If I sold just the watch I could easily get $45 for it, if I put it on a $25 strap.

She gets worn 5 days a week, and she’s my favorite.

That is a very cool and unique combo. Unlike anything I have seen!
 

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Another thing that concerns me, I asked the seller who told me he doesn't know the history of the watch, and doesn't know when it was last serviced. This leads me to believe it is a guaranteed necessity to service the watch so I might let this one slide.
You can not expect the seller of a $30 watch to know when the last $100 service was carried out. I always say it is better to purchase assuming that it needs a service and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't than to purchase assuming it will be fine and to be disappointed that you have to shell out.

It's always a punt. Even something that looks mice and clean could have dried up oils and be desperately in need of a service. Or worse have a worn out mech.

You asked for pointers.
Well that watch is filthy, something that, generally speaking, is best avoided.
Look at the condition of the whole watch. A perfectly clean dial, on a watch with rusty internals for example should ring alarm bells.
Look at the mechanism. Does the colour and patination of the bridges match, or does it look like something's been swapped in from another watch.
Look at the edges on the case, nice and sharp, or really shiny and rounded? The latter indicates that it's been on a jewellers polishing wheel, a fast way of making a $20 watch look like a $200 watch.
Avoid anything coming from India and the Ukraine until you have some experience. There are genuine sellers in both countries, but they are also rife with redialled tarted up monstrosities.
Avoid buying from any country that has a high humidity, again until you have a bit of experience. Sweat corrodes the watch around the seals. Moisture gets in corrodes the mechanism and ruins the dials.
Try to learn to spot a good watch in bad photos. This is where you'll grab a bargain. If the photos are of a clean watch, the pictures are nice and clear, then you will have a lot of bidding competition. If the photos are lousy, then nobody bothers to bid. Look at multiple pictures & use the principals of parallax to determine if scratches are on the dial or crystal. Crystals can be polished at home or replaced for $40 ish. Many a lovely watch hides behind a terribly damaged crystal. What you are trying to do is pick the good watch that everyone else is ignoring.
Research, research, research. Don't buy the first watch of any given model that you see. OK, you may not worry at $30 if you buy a dud, but at $300 it stings. Find pictures of other examples. Compare them. You'll quickly learn to spot what's factory original and what's, shall we say, creative restoration.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You can not expect the seller of a $30 watch to know when the last $100 service was carried out. I always say it is better to purchase assuming that it needs a service and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't than to purchase assuming it will be fine and to be disappointed that you have to shell out.

It's always a punt. Even something that looks mice and clean could have dried up oils and be desperately in need of a service. Or worse have a worn out mech.

You asked for pointers.
Well that watch is filthy, something that, generally speaking, is best avoided.
Look at the condition of the whole watch. A perfectly clean dial, on a watch with rusty internals for example should ring alarm bells.
Look at the mechanism. Does the colour and patination of the bridges match, or does it look like something's been swapped in from another watch.
Look at the edges on the case, nice and sharp, or really shiny and rounded? The latter indicates that it's been on a jewellers polishing wheel, a fast way of making a $20 watch look like a $200 watch.
Avoid anything coming from India and the Ukraine until you have some experience. There are genuine sellers in both countries, but they are also rife with redialled tarted up monstrosities.
Avoid buying from any country that has a high humidity, again until you have a bit of experience. Sweat corrodes the watch around the seals. Moisture gets in corrodes the mechanism and ruins the dials.
Try to learn to spot a good watch in bad photos. This is where you'll grab a bargain. If the photos are of a clean watch, the pictures are nice and clear, then you will have a lot of bidding competition. If the photos are lousy, then nobody bothers to bid. Look at multiple pictures & use the principals of parallax to determine if scratches are on the dial or crystal. Crystals can be polished at home or replaced for $40 ish. Many a lovely watch hides behind a terribly damaged crystal. What you are trying to do is pick the good watch that everyone else is ignoring.
Research, research, research. Don't buy the first watch of any given model that you see. OK, you may not worry at $30 if you buy a dud, but at $300 it stings. Find pictures of other examples. Compare them. You'll quickly learn to spot what's factory original and what's, shall we say, creative restoration.

Hope that helps.
Wow, this is something I am pinning to my PC monitor, great tips!!

The watch seems to be a fair purchase at the price. The dial does not appear to be redialed and if so is done so very cleanly. Patina on the dial matches the overall condition of the watch.
As you say, the movement is filthy, but as far as I can tell the parts all appear to be original. Service is a must, clearly. Even with a service this purchase would be more than reasonable, but I'm going to let someone else buy this watch who can fully enjoy it. The watch is located in France, so in terms of frankenwatches or quickly buffed up problem pieces I think France is a relatively low-risk source. Also in terms of humidity I imagine this is true.
 
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