Where to find vintage watches

Finding Vintage Watches

There are few things more exciting than finding a good vintage watch. Nothing beats the thrill whether you stumble upon it or diligently track it down. Here are some places where vintage watches may be found.

Your Network:

A lot of people overlook this one, but you should reach out to your network and ask them if they have any old or vintage watches. You might find some in your family or it might come from a connection on LinkedIn. Either way, you should leave no stone unturned in your quest to find vintage watches.

Estate Sales:

Estate sales can be a great place to find vintage watches. Lot’s of time when people die their relatives have already taken what they wanted and are just looking to liquidate the rest. It will be difficult to find brands like Rolex or Omega, but typically the lesser known ones will be overlooked. Estate buyers are good connections to make. They can act as another set of eyes and even help you out by holding a watch for you or sending you tips.

Garage Sales:

Garage sales are less likely to be fruitful than estate sales, but you never know what will show up. Again, you probably won’t find any Rolex watches, but they could be a good place to find old Longines, Tissot, and Seiko watches.

Pawn Shops:

Pawn shops will sometimes come across vintage watches, but buyer beware. Many times pawn shops will be overpriced and because they don’t specialize in watches they might not bother to get the whole story on the watch.

Jewelry Stores:

Jewelry stores come across watches occasionally and sometimes you can find good ones. Be careful to check them out. Many jewelry stores do repairs onsite and that could mean over-polished watches with replacement parts.

Independent Dealers:

Independent dealers can be your best bet if you’re looking for a specific watch and a specific condition. Michael Morgan of Iconic Watch Company specializes in fresh to market vintage Rolex. Bob Maron of Robert Maron Watches specializes in ultra-high-end watches and counts many celebrities among his clients. These guys are experts and I encourage you to reach out to them. If you’re looking for something that they don’t deal in, chances are there’s an independent dealer that specializes in whatever you’re looking for.

Watch Stores:

Watch stores can be a great place to find vintage watches. Prices will typically be higher than fresh to market options and even independent dealers because watch stores have the overhead of a shop and employees. Good watch stores will have someone that specializes in vintage watches. One of my favorites is European Watch Company. Talk to Joshua, he’s the man. For anywhere else, make sure to inspect the watch in person or have them provide detailed pictures. Some watch shops will replace parts and over-polish.

Auctions:

Some great deals can be had at auctions but buyer beware. Make sure you know what the buyer’s premium is and factor its cost into your budget. Do as much due diligence as you can but also realize that many pf the large auction houses have been caught retouching photos for catalogs so the watch looks much different in person. If you’re interested in auctions I’d follow Bacs and Russo and look at their upcoming auctions.

One Last Place:

FLÂNEUR is a great place to find vintage watches. If you are looking for something specific, please reach out to me at steve@flaneurwatches.com and I will track it down for you.