More and more individuals are turning to the second-hand and vintage watch market for their purchases in today's watch industry, where collecting has become one of the century's largest obsessions. Some collectors, on the other hand, prefer to buy their timepieces fresh new, even if it means waiting a few of years.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Here are just a few of the key advantages and disadvantages of buying new vs old timepieces, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to personal preference in the end, and many watch collectors have both new and pre-owned watches in their collections.
It's important to recognize right away that antique and current wristwatches are not interchangeable and are related but distinct creatures. We've used the analogy of a vintage vehicle to describe this to purchasers throughout the years, and it appears to be one that people can connect to. A recent model automobile will be extremely dependable, cost-effective, and comfortable, and will require very little input from the owner.
In contrast, even in excellent condition, a vintage automobile from the 1930s or 1940s will be unreliable, require expensive specialised maintenance, consume a lot of gasoline, be underpowered, and have a pathetically insufficient heater.
Vintage watches are similar to classic automobiles. No antique wristwatch will come close to matching the level of dependability of a brand new model. Timekeeping is terrible by today's standards, and even the greatest specimens from Rolex and the rest from the 1960s and 1970s can't compare to the precision attained by mass-produced battery-powered watches available on the high street today for less than twenty pounds.
Few antique watches sellers want to say it, but owning a historical watch places far more demands on the buyer than purchasing a modern one. A antique watch will eventually require the skills of an expert watch manufacturer, just as a classic automobile would require frequent adjustments by a professional mechanic.
Although the amount of care necessary is nearly always small and inexpensive, typically requiring only a few minutes, being without a watch for a few days while such maintenance is being done may be unpleasant and inconvenient.
Another point to consider is that historical luxury watches lacked the technological features that we now consider standard. Before the 1950s, there was almost little effort taken to provide any form of motion shock protection. Early waterproof cases were similarly terribly inadequate, and no vintage wristwatch should ever be subjected to water or even damp today. Attempts at magnetic field protection were attempted often, but the technology was still in its infancy and nothing near as advanced as it is now.
In summary, anyone purchasing an antique timepiece with the intention of using it as a daily, functioning timekeeper would always be disappointed. Such a buyer's interests will be best served by purchasing a brand new model that will be hassle free and completely reliable at all times.
The disadvantage of owning a new watch is that contemporary and recent models are severely lacking in charm. We will notice at least twenty gentlemen sporting current model Rolex watches if we stroll around any big supermarket in the UK. These watches are in no way defective; in fact, they are quite the contrary; nonetheless, they have a bland uniformity and dullness that is a far cry from the uniqueness and appeal of antique versions.
Some of the vintage watches on this site are so rare that they may be the sole surviving specimens of their type. In virtually all cases, their identical twins will not be seen on a regular basis, and it is conceivable to live a lifetime without seeing someone wearing the same model. To return to our comparison with the world of classic cars, the fact is that for many people, including ourselves, driving down the Kings Road in a 1950s Mercedes gullwing or riding on a Vincent Black Shadow would be far more appealing than making the same journey in a current BMW 5 series or Honda model.
Vintage wristwatches, like its automobile counterparts, exude individuality, character, and the spirit of the era in which they were created. They're great conversation starters, and they always get compliments at the dinner table, just like an old vehicle sitting in the street.
Nothing beats the sense of wearing an early watch, knowing that its original owner wore it in the corpse-strewn trenches of the Somme or Passchendaele, or a luxurious 1930s model that adorns the wrist of some affluent gentleman in the years leading up to World War II. However, keep in mind that you're purchasing an ancient artefact that, like the veteran vehicles on the London to Brighton run, will never be able to compete on a level playing field with the most contemporary versions in the jewellers' displays.
Vintage wristwatches are perfect for people who enjoy the finer details of highly patinated antique furniture, slightly faded first edition novels, classic British motorbikes, and period Louis Vuitton travel trunks from the interwar years. However, if you are unfamiliar with these sorts of items and want your belongings to be clinical, minimalist, and absolutely practical, we can nearly promise that you will regret purchasing a traditional timepiece.
In truth, most collectors avoid this problem by having a diverse collection of timepieces. The vintage vehicle enthusiast's prized collection will be on display at historic track days and possibly an annual trip to Goodwood or Pebble Beach. He'll drive a contemporary, totally practical automobile for the remainder of the time.
We wouldn't recommend a vintage wristwatch to someone looking for a single timepiece, but for many people who already possess one or more contemporary watches, collecting antique models may be a highly rewarding and addicting hobby.