Vintage watches are unique, well-crafted, and a great way to start or expand a men’s watch collection. If you’re reading this, you know that watches have a special allure; they’re like wearing art (and science) on your wrist. A watch can telegraph your personality, your individual style, and even your interests. Vintage watches go one better, as they can infer that you’re curious about history. While this sounds like a lot of responsibility tossed onto a bunch of vintage watches, when you think about it, when you’re purchasing a vintage watch or a couple of vintage watches, it’s as if you’re purchasing a snapshot from a different era.
A vintage watch that is wrapped on your wrist now, could have been worn by a WWII pilot or 60s era boat captain. There’s a lot of romance wrapped up in vintage watches, which is why we love them.
Vintage Watch Brands
You can find working vintage watches from the early 1900s and ones from the 70s. Many popular (and pricey) watch brands have a long history, and you can often find one of their vintage watches for a great price. For example, a new watch from a luxury watch brand like Omega Seamaster could set you back around $51k, but a vintage working Seamaster can be had for under a thousand. Why? There are two reasons for the lower prices. Many of the older models don’t have a lot of complications that we now expect in a watch. While there’s the occasional chronometer or date window, many vintage watches are either simple two or three-hand watches. The second reason is style. Older watches may be chunkier or thinner than the ones that we’re used to wearing. It could be that the font on the dials may, to the modern eye, seem to be a tad old-fashioned or (if you’re looking at some watches from the 60s or the 90s) funky looking or odd.
The older models of Omegas, Hamilton, Seiko, and other high-end watch brands could be undervalued simply because of their looks. You could snag a couple of vintage watches from a high-end brand and pay less than if you purchased a brand new one from that same brand. Whoever said “less is more” never met a watch.
Another nice thing about purchasing vintage watches is finding ones from brands long gone. Parsing that out, it means that you really do own a limited edition item. Look for brands like Gruen, Illinois, Waltham, Elgin, Benrus, and Vulcain to snag one of them. Speaking of Gruen watches, did you know that James Bond wore the Gruen Precision 510 in Dr. No? We tracked down that watch and it’s on sale as we speak.
How to Buy Vintage Watches
As with any high ticket item, you should research the seller and the site before purchase. There are some sites like 1st Dibs that have a sterling reputation. But, if you come across a site you’ve never heard of, check online reviews and find out how long they’ve been in business. When it comes to buying a vintage watch on Etsy or eBay, the first thing you should do is check the ratings and the reviews. Make sure that all reviews/ratings are from a verified buyer and read the seller’s policies. It’s easy to label something as “vintage,” and even easier to make a watch look old, so please do your due diligence before you hit the “buy it now” button.
Scroll through to find the best vintage watches to buy right now.