I have a passion for pocket watches and for the Victorian Goth (like myself) they are a ‘must have’ piece of decadence. This is a piece, here, I bought recently for only £20!
Nothing looks more elegant with a Victorian waistcoat than a silver mechanical pocket watch swinging on the end of an Albert chain.
With so many vintage and reproduction pocket watches on the market these days, it can be difficult to decide which one to buy, or invest in. Newer editions looking just like the real thing can be cheap and easy to get hold of, but are they really the best buy?
Venturing into the world of antique fairs last weekend, I decided to go and find out.
- Never spend more than £50 on a vintage pocket watch. As far as the antique dealer is concerned, old pocket watches are a dime a dozen and often only worth the silver/gold they are housed in. Most antique dealers consider pocket watches are worth a fiver to them.
- Vintage or reproduction? Although the latter is often dirt cheap and easy to come by on the net, they aren’t always a good investment, especially if you want to get a lot of use out of it, like me and wear it almost every day. The reproduction ones are often battery and once that batter stops, you will be hard pushed to get the back open or even find a repairer who is confident to get the back open and replace the battery meaning you could be left with a heap of junk.
- If you want to go reproduction that’s fine, it is! Just get one that is mechanical (wind up motion.) That way with careful handling, it will last a lot longer than a battery operated one.
- If you want to go vintage, track down a good vintage, antiques and collectors fair – the best ones can be found here at the IACF. This extensive list showcases all the most important fairs across the country. They are huge places and worth spending a day at. Antiques Atlas is another good site to check out smaller fairs across the UK.
- Don’t be sold on the first pocket watch you see. Mooch around first, everywhere. Once you have seen one pocket watch at the event, there will be at least 50 more to consider.
- Do your homework on an expensive piece first. It would have to be a rarity for it to fetch a three figure sum if this is what the seller is asking. Dealers know that pocket watches are hot items which never go out of fashion. Don’t be ripped off by a piece you think it worth the money you’ve spent on it, when actually it wasn’t.
- Consider buying a watch that doesn’t work – for reasons I will come to next…
- Most vintage pocket watches don’t work simply because they haven’t been used for a long time. If you find one you like, don’t be put off that it might not work. Most pocket watches only need a careful oil and a good clean for them to come alive again.
- Once you have bought a piece, take it to a proper watch maker, not a jeweller. They will know how to clean a vintage piece carefully, inside and out and probably on site too. Hunt one down even if the nearest is miles away – you will be pleased you did.
- Use your pocket watch as much as you can. The more you use it, the longer it will last.
- Don’t over wind and always wind carefully. Your watch maker can advise you if you’re not sure.
Let me know in the comment box below your experiences in pocket watches and what advice you can leave for fellow hunters. I would love to hear from you!
Good luck and happy pocket watch hunting!
Love and Absinthe
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