You are a vintage watch dealer? Cool. So what the hell does vintage mean?!
If we are asked, what we define as vintage watch we refer to the following points: It's a wristwatch, between 30 and 100 years old, fine, valuable and collectible.
That narrows it down a bit. But why would anyone would something so old and sometimes even fragile? We made our argument for why we love vintage watches already. Feel free to follow up if you haven't read it here already.
Still, there are some more objective and legit questions we are facing frequently regarding “vintage”.
What's the difference between modern and vintage in everyday use?
Generally, being a precise instrument, any mechanical watch - modern and vintage is fragile. For obvious reasons, vintage watches are slightly more fragile, so it is important to avoid significant vibration and shock impacts. That doesn’t mean, however, that vintage watches are not suitable for everyday use. It all depends on the age and the type of the watch. For example, some watches from the late 1930s are not shock-resistant at all, while some watches (like Omega Speedmaster cal.321) engineered in the mid-50s are not only shock-resistant but passed extremely strict tests performed by NASA.
So what is okay for most vintage timepieces?
In the course of normal day-to-day wearing with average activity, your watch should be okay. What usually is not okay are Sports activity (any activity causing significant shocks, vibrations or sweating), Swimming, diving and any activity involving water (including heavy rain etc.), Severe changes of temperature/humidity within a short period of time and other extreme environmental conditions.
But don't to be afraid to break your beloved timepiece. As long as you apply common sense and maintain the watch regularly it will be fine and keep its value and proper functionality.
The hottest question in the watch community: How can I be sure a watch is authentic?
This question is important and not very easy to answer - that's why it's so interesting. How can you tell if the watch you spent 2 months salaries on, is exactly what it claims to be?
In general, if you follow your instincts that should be a good start. If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is “too good to be true”. Even we at VintageCaliber have to invest a lot of time in research and testing to guarantee the watches we are dealing are authentic, and this is our main job!
As a Watch Dealer we get at least 200 % margin on every watch, right? Wrong!
For an outsider, it's not really obvious what goes into running a vintage watch dealership. This is probably the foundation of the common misconception watch dealers are facing sometimes. It may seem as if we are only buying watches, markup the price by 200 % and sell them immediately. That's absolutely not how the business works...
It is always crucial to understand the size of the watch, especially when it comes to vintage watches which are generally considered as too small in comparison with what watch industry offers today. For example, the original Patek Philippe Calatrava introduced in the 1930s was only 31 mm in diameter, while today's classic Calatrava is 39 mm. When you think about 8 mm, it doesn't seem to be a big difference, but believe it is.
In our condition reports we normally disclose three most important parameters as follows: diameter without crown / lug-to-lug length / lug width.
Diameter without crown
It is, so far, the most important measurement to understand the size of a regular round-shaped watch.It helps you to understand proportions and overall look of the watch. It is important to consider width of the bezel and color of the dial, because certain combinations may make the watch look bigger, while some other smaller. It is all very individual, however there is common understanding:
This parameter will help you to understand whether the watch is comfortable for wearing. You should compare lug-to-lug width with the width of your wrist, and if lug-to-lug width is smaller or equal, then this watch shall be comfortable.
This measurement is defining what size of strap you need for the particular watch. Depending on era and manufacturer you can find watches with lug width between 14 mm and 24 mm. Most common sizes are 18 mm and 20 mm.