Established 1977 - Manufactured on the premises
  • Home
  • News
  • Top Tips When Buying Vintage Watches

Top Tips When Buying Vintage Watches

Unless you’re an enthusiastic horologist, you may be unaware of what to look out for when buying yourself a vintage watch. It may even seem intimidating; the market of vintage watches can be just as complex as the arrangement of cogs and wheels that go into constructing it. Whether you’re looking to build a collection, buy a piece to hand down or you simply want a smart-looking timepiece, there are many things to consider before parting with your money. We do have some top tips for you to consider before you start looking for your ideal vintage watch but perhaps the most important thing is this; if you have found a watch you like and are prepared to pay the money that’s being asked then why not go for it. Something is only worth what you are prepared to pay for it!

What Makes a Watch ‘Vintage’?

Before we go any further, we should first explore what exactly a ‘vintage’ watch actually is. It’s easy to confuse vintage with ‘antique’ as many consider those words to be synonymous with ‘old’. While this is technically true, antique watches are much older than vintage watches. An antique is generally considered antique when it is a hundred years or more in age. It can also be considered antique if it has significant historical or collectable value. Vintage items, while sharing similar connotations, are objects which are old but not quite as old as an antique. You can describe something as vintage if it is of a younger generation than an antique.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

You might be tempted to buy a nice-looking vintage watch just because of its appearance, but this is an easy trap to fall into; a car may look clean and shiny on the outside, but inside the engine is rusted and falling apart! Ask to take a look inside the watch – a genuine retailer will be happy to show you, even if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. But remember to stick to the basics, you will still be able to find a gem. Is the watch in good overall condition? Is there water damage on the dial? Is the strap original?

Keep an Eye Out for Top Brands

When it comes to brands, the name can carry more value than the watch itself. Some Rolex watches are worth more in poor condition than a brand new car! Why not delve into the brand’s history? It can be very telling as to what kind of vintage watch you’ll be buying. You may find a first edition or limited release watch! In short, the name plays a huge part when it comes to buying a vintage watch.


The provenance of a vintage watch plays a significant part in the watch’s value; where did it come from and who has worn it before? Try and find out some history on the watch itself, does it come with an original receipt or box? But remember, this is not the be-all and end-all!

Something to Remember

Remember that a vintage watch has been around for many years, ticking away day after day and often going for years without a service. Oils can dry up and the cogs wear down. Because of this, you can never guarantee the timekeeping will be 100% accurate. Doesn’t that add to the charm of a vintage timepiece?

Vintage Watches at Bradleys

Why not pop over to our products page to see what we have in store? You may be surprised at what entices you.