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Vintage, to buy or not to buy?


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I found a love of vintage watches a while back and I still have a couple after going wild and buying about 20. They were all nice but a large portion were problematic within a couple months of owning them, all having been claimed to have been serviced recently. Granted they were also al under $200, and two were frankenstein frauds from Ukraine.

I was just a millimeter away from pressing buy on a Favre Leuba vintage diver on eBay. The store looked legit, watchmaker claims I looked into, but the problem is that's a $5000 watch with a movement I'm not sure I can get parts for any more. I immediately started to recall my vintage experience and it got me wondering... Is it worth it? What if the movement fails in a week or even a year... Resale is zero if not functioning.

Your thoughts?

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My Vintage purchases have fallen into two categories, a couple of higher end birth year watches that cost a relatively high amount and a load of old tat for $#!+$ and giggles.

The cheap stuff was bought expecting little and with nothing to lose.

I have been lucky with the two more significant purchases. Particularly the first which was early on in my watch collecting and saw me buy from Malaysia with no homework done on the seller, I just got lucky.

It's always going to be a risk, but you can mitigate a little by researching the seller.

Good luck.

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5 minutes ago, Bricey said:

My Vintage purchases have fallen into two categories, a couple of higher end birth year watches that cost a relatively high amount and a load of old tat for $#!+$ and giggles.

The cheap stuff was bought expecting little and with nothing to lose.

I have been lucky with the two more significant purchases. Particularly the first which was early on in my watch collecting and saw me buy from Malaysia with no homework done on the seller, I just got lucky.

It's always going to be a risk, but you can mitigate a little by researching the seller.

Good luck.

I just can't bring myself to do it. That nagging voice inside saying don't do it, terrible idea.

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11 minutes ago, JayDeep said:

I just can't bring myself to do it. That nagging voice inside saying don't do it, terrible idea.

At that price it is a big risk, and whilst I've had two FL's and enjoyed them, both of mine were £25 hand winders that were not going to hurt me if they ended up being a problem.

My Omega Seamaster was a big risk for me about 15 years ago, buying from a foreign seller brought the price down from about £500-600 I was looking at for similar with a UK seller to around the £350 I could (still not really) afford at the time.

I was nervous it wouldn't arrive, when it did I was nervous it would die on me really quickly, when it didn't I was terrified I'd be told it was fake or full of non original parts when I got it looked at, but it has passed every test and will pass on from me to my eldest son once I'm an old(er) f@rt.

$5k is a big big risk, especially on a brand that is a little off of the beaten track and you are never likely to find a specialist or authorised dealer for, all in my humble opinion.

 

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At $1000's .. it is a terrible idea! 

If your going to spend that amount of money put it in your hands first, hold it, look the seller in the eye.

In my opinion, any money transferred through the bay is already lost and its a lottery if you even get an item, its the correct item, it lasts or works properly. 

Don't spend any money on the bay unless you are prepared to lose it.

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If it is the one from a UK seller in Derbyshire (top military watches)? I have to say that the movement looks amazing.

But it is more than twice the price of a similar looking (watch and movent) you would get with a Breitling Top Time, which would presumably be a lot easier to service and repair and find an authorised specialist to check and confirm is legit.

For example

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Breitling-Geneve-Chronograph-Top-Time-Panda-dial-mechanical-watch-working-well-/393254870035?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49286

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1. As others have said, that's a big whack for an eBay watch.

2. Be very careful with Favre-Leuba; they are a brand used notoriously for redials in some countries.

3. Vintage itself is fine - I have quite a few but have always bought from reputable dealers with bricks and mortar establishments.

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Without doubt my criteria for buying vintage, and I do, is that the movement must be serviceable by someone, either by an A.D. or by a watchmaker who I trust, who tells me they are able to do the work on that particular movement.

Some old brands are now defunct but may contain standard Swiss movements that are serviceable, or other brands, like Omega, have specialized services devoted to vintage pieces and can handle a fifty-year-old watch service easily.

Providing you do the work, buying a vintage piece is no more problematic than a modern watch, but you do have to do your research on movements and potential watch repairers and hopefully have knowledge on the particular model of watch that you're buying.

 

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4 hours ago, JayDeep said:

I just can't bring myself to do it. That nagging voice inside saying don't do it, terrible idea.

I have that nagging voice too for anything over £150 and generally I don't do it. The highest I've gone is £500, which turned out okay, but I won't be doing it again anytime soon.

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For £5k I'd certainly want to know the watch was in working order and if paying a premium from a dealer I'd want it with a recent service.

That said, a non working vintage is certainly not worthless and I've seen non working watches in otherwise good condition go for not much less than than the cost of a service and some parts.

 

I have bought quite a few vintage watches if late from private forum sales, auction & eBay and so far no issues. Time keeping has been variable but I'm not really bothered about accuracy especially as I rotate wearing them.

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As others have said its the price thats the red flag. At that money Id want to be buying from a shop or well known online distributor with proof of service and some form of warranty, cooling off period and also Id be a lot happier if I knew they sold either other vintage or new watches I liked. So if all else fails you could put it back against a new watch etc. 

That said personally I love vintage but really its the look I like. So I prefer to buy vintage inspired, Smiths Expedition for example. 

I have a couple of real vintage 1950's watches left to me by granparents so they scrath the itch. 

If there was something you had always wanted, a grail watch from a certain era because your father had one etc and you knew exactly what you wanted and hunted it down then the price is ok but as long as you adhere to my first line above. 

But dropping $5k on the bay, as we say up my way, 'wise the heed min'.

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