History of watch collecting

Gold packet watch
Gold pocket watch

Prior to 1982 wristwatches were not collected - pocket watches and gold dress watches were the main areas of interest. The market for vintage wristwatches around the early 1980's took off when several prestige watch houses purchased from Auctions important timepieces they had manufactured previously and had been sold through retail outlets.

The watches purchased were to be displayed in their own museums and collections. This demand, combined with the European dealers and collectors, led to the birth of the vintage watch hobby as we know it today.

Display Case

In the mid 1990's the introduction of the internet proved to be ideal for collectors and dealers as they were able to communicate more efficiently, and post full colour digital images of watches that they had in stock.
Collectors were becoming very knowledgeable about watches - the areas of watch collecting are vast - swatch watches, early electronic, chronographs, chronometers, Rolex submariners - are just a few specialities that people concentrated on.
However this knowledge was not matched by some of the dealers who entered the industry. Marriages appeared i.e. dial-movement and case being joined together for the first time.

Fake Rolex
Obvious Fake


Fakes reared their ugly heads - some quite expertly done and others absolutely bizarre.
There is no short cut to becoming a top-notch dealer (price guides do exist - but as soon as they are printed - the prices are no longer relevant). Knowledge of the market place and a passion for watches are essential; some dealers might just as well be dealing in baked beans - there is nothing wrong in treating watches as a commodity - but you can't become 1st class without putting your heart into it.

Many years of experience and making mistakes (sometimes very expensive mistakes) are required.
At this point it should be pointed out that we are only talking about mechanical watches - quartz wristwatches in most peoples opinion are of no interest whatsoever - regardless of their original retail cost.
Quartz watches are extremely accurate (very few mechanical watches can compete), they are efficient and practical, but lack the style, uniqueness, value and indeed the character associated with vintage wrist watches.

The Ultimate Vintage Watch

# 1
Triple signed

Movement, Case, Dial - all signed and original. Expertly overhauled in the past by craftsmen, screw heads unmarked - original material used in past repairs.
Triple signed 
# 2

Unrestored and in original condition - no blemishes, marks or stains. Original hands.


# 3

In original condition - relevant markings to match movement and dial. Caseback unmarked at opening point. No personal engraving.
Original winding crown with relevant motif. In working order and gaining no more than 20 seconds a day.


# 4

Original receipt - guarantee - papers and box.

Image : An 18ct pink gold jump-hour wristwatch by Patek Philippe, Geneva, in 1930s style tonneau case, made in limited series of 450 pieces to commemorate their 150 year anniversary, with presentation case, certificate of origin and guarantee dated January 1990, case reference 3969, movement no. 752677 - 38 x 27 mm.


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