Well, auction season is in full swing, with the top watch auction houses putting some of their most recent finds up on the block. More now than ever before, the concept of buying vintage watches at auction has taken off. For young first-time collectors as well as seasoned veteran collectors, the vintage watch market, in general, and auctions, in particular, are a great way to find that one rare piece. The best auction houses include Christie's, Sotheby's, Antiquorum and Phillips by Bacs and Russo. There are also smaller auction houses to keep an eye on, as well.
We believe in investing in vintage timepieces, as typically many of these watches hold their value. Vintage watches also often make a great sentimental gift. However, before you dive in, here are three important things to know...
1 — Read up. Sometimes if you see something going up for auction that you really want it is difficult to resist. However, investigate the watch, its provenance and its rarity before you bid. Recently, the head of one top watch auction house said that most buyers of vintage pieces at auction make their biggest mistakes in the first year of auction buying. It’s important to know the authenticity of the watch, as well, to ensure the dial, hands or markers haven't been changed, as this significantly affects the value of the watch. You can read books and blogs, such as www.ATimelyPerspective.com and Hodinkee.com to learn more about hot watches.
2 — Ask for help. In addition to reading books, blogs and doing your homework, you shouldn't hesitate to ask the experts — ourselves included. Don’t be afraid to take some pictures of the watch you are considering buying at auction or in a store where pre-owned is a category. While most of the info you are seeking will be readily available if the watch is being sold by a top auction house, that may not be the case if you are buying vintage at retail stores. The one thing you will quickly learn about the watch community is that people are eager to talk about this passion and to give advice, so go to the watch forums, ask the experts and talk up the watch. Also, as an aside, if you are buying from a retailer, ask about your options for returns and refunds right up front.
3 — Have a budget and stick to it. It is easy to break the bank, but if you are not in a position to do so, don't. Other good deals will come along. If you've done your homework, you know what that value is based on sales of similar watches of that genre, make, model, dial color, etc. Happy hunting, and stop in any time to talk about pre-owned and vintage watches.