To fix or not to fix? Would you want your vintage watch to look NOS?
This came up during one of the chats I had with a potential buyer.
Would you? I guess there’s not really a straight yes or no, and I’m going to give my five cents here in this post.
One of the things that attract me to vintage watches is the way they look. I’ve always thought that each vintage watch is unique - they left the factory the same way , but each has walked its own path, in the ownership of different kinds of collectors.
Some end up worn and weathered, some remain in pristine condition. And depending on your luck or strength in reconnaissance, you'll wind up having the choice to buy one.
As collectors we should be familiar with this scene - sitting at a table with a few watches, having the pick of the litter. In our minds are the usual questions that will determine whether we buy a particular watch.
One of those questions might be, "I wonder if I could have it fixed to look as new?"
So what are some of the things that can be 'renewed'?
Hands: Less than perfect lume can be removed and redone, usually to match the ones on the dial. Incorrect or imperfect ones can be switched out for nicer examples.
Dial: This is the money maker, the one single element that can make or break a watch. Enhancements to dials can be as simple as a wipe down of the indices, or as complex as a complete refurbishment to match its original condition.
Case: Scratches can be removed with a polish, and dings with a new one altogether. Incorrect case backs can be switched and engravings can be redone to make cases accurate.
Glass: Chipped ones can be replaced, and scratches on acrylic can be hand polished with a nice layer of polywatch.
Bracelets and Buckles: Can be polished and accurate ones found.
As someone who believes that watches should only be serviced when they no longer tell relatively accurate time, I prefer to leave watches as they are found, as long as they function as they should.
While the most I've actually done is to have the lume on the hands done up to match the dial's, I wouldn't stop anyone from doing further work to their vintage watches.
What I do ask is for is honesty when it's time to pass the watch on to another collector. Because this small circle of vintage lovers is a fragile one, and with prices climbing higher every month, there is much more at stake if your watch is in as good a condition as possible.
So do us all a favor - check well and do your research before buying, and be an honest seller despite the price you want to sell at. I believe the purchase of a vintage timepiece is as much an emotion decision as a financial one, and we should do what we can to make that investment a pleasant experience.