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Picture of John Reed
Hello ladies and gentlemen,

I have a few annoying novice questions for which I apologize in advance. I just joined this forum, and I am clearly far out of my depth. The questions I have are apparently too basic to have generated a discussion here.

My quest for a timekeeping device that would be distinctive led me to vintage wrist watches, and before I knew it I had bought about 10 of them. (If I keep all of them--I'm still awaiting the arrival of the bulk of my purchase.) I bought all of them online (although none of them was on an auction site) from several different dealers, and doubtless members of this group could tell me where I bought them and why I paid too much for them if I mentioned the models that attracted me. I expect that one or two of them is neither as old or as rare as it was represented, but I bought the watches because I liked the way they looked. I considered some of them to be Art Deco pieces, but after reading your discussion on this forum I realize that I may have been mistaken in that regard.

A dealer from whom I am buying three watches didn't deign to answer my questions, so I am posting them here, with apologies for temporarily lowering the level of discourse.

Common sense would dictate that these watches not be exposed to shocks or moisture, but I have other questions. For example, should a mechanical watch be wound at the same time every day? If it is not being worn that day, should it be wound regardless? How easy is it to overwind one of these watches?

I read at an online site that one of these watches should not be worn every day. Is this recommendation sound advice?

Most of these watches, I am told, have been serviced, but one has not. What do I need to have done to it to ensure that it continues to function, and how do I find a knowledgeable person to whom I can entrust my watches, now and in the future?

Many thanks for your help.

Posts: 11 | Location: Memphis, Tennessee in the USA | Registered: January 19, 2008
Welcome John,
You will find this to be a very informative site. I have been collecting for many years and still consider myself a novice when compared to most who post here often so I am sure you will have other more informative replies shortly.
You may very well have paid more for your watches than what they might be worth BUT, you liked the way they looked and they interested you. As long as your happy with them is all that should matter.
I cannot count how many watches I overpaid for when I first started collecting. If you plan to stay with this hobby I would advise you to purchase some books on watches ie: (Cooksey's complete (?) guide to Watches) which is loaded with good information on how they work, different manufacturers etc... and makes a nice "guide" to help you along.
If wristwatches are what you purchased most should hold a wind for more than 1 day and if your not wearing the watch daily I don't see any reason to wind it daily.
It is good that the watches you purchased have been recently serviced as that could add a significant amount to overall cost since most watch cleaning, oil and adjustment runs around 75.00 or more per watch excluding any additional needed parts.
As far as wearing a vintage watch everyday ?, that would depend on you and the rarety etc of the watch. Many on this site wear vintage watches daily with no problems, I currently carry a 100 year old pocket watch on a daily basis. The way I see it, you bought it so why not use it and enjoy it !
Please post some photos of your watches here when they arrive or add them to the above forum "Which watch are you wearing today?" Smile

Posts: 1499 | Location: Rancho Cucamonga, California USA | Registered: December 20, 2006
IHC Life Member
Picture of David Abbe
John, Again welcome to our little "club". I hope you enjoy this group as much as I have. It has been a substantial resource and guide to my fun collecting and repairing watches, as well as helping me learn vastly more about the world of time. Regarding your questions, Ray pretty much said it all. As to "value", I am all to often told that I "paid too much", including some of my watches, but that is the price of "want", rather than the object itself. In other words you only buy it if you want it, and you pay that much to get it. The price guide that Ray mentioned gives you a value reference for the necessary cost of "want".
As for using watches, of my collection, the only ones I do not consider as "wearable" are those that are not (presently) working. Otherwise they are all fair game. As far as winding, I love automatic wristwatches, especially "Durabalance" watches developed by Elgin, as they are the pinnacle of American wristwatch design (to me at least).
As to winding, etc., it is hard to damage a watch unless you really want to. I always wind my carry watch in the AM, and then in the PM to reduce Isochronism error, but it doesn't really matter with a good watch. There is no such thing as "overwinding" most watches. You would likely break the winding mechanism before the mainspring goes, and that takes a massive insensitivity to the mechanical limits of the watch.
If the watch has not been recently cleaned and serviced, it likely will soon just "stop", or the mainpsring will blow because it is no longer lubricated properly. When that happens leave it be or take it to a good watch repair person. More damage is done to "stopped" watches by people shaking and pounding them to try to get them to run than any other cause. In short when it stops, get it fixed or just leave it be.

Regarding finding a watch repair person, I found my "watch Guru" through recommendations from trusted local jeweler. The person you find is only as good as your confidence in them. We all make mistakes and break things, but all in all, a competent watch person is one who you go back to after the first replair because the watch or clock they fixed keeps working.
Also our group has some very competent people if you are not the "hands on" type who needs to see the shop they have, etc.
Posts: 6492 | Location: Southern California in the USA | Registered: July 19, 2007
Hamilton WW Expert
IHC Life Member
Picture of Bryan J. Girouard
I wear a vintage watch every day, sometimes wearing the same watch for weeks at a time... winding it fully each morning before I strap it to my wrist. As long as you're careful not to expose the watch to shocks or moisture, you should be able to wear it every day.

These watches were designed to be wound and worn everyday and most of the watches made by companies such as Elgin, Gruen, Hamilton, etc. are very rugged and durable. Good thing about most of the American brands is that parts are still relatively available should something go wrong.

If you search this Watch Repair forum and the 185 Business Directory on this website, you should be able to find someone honest and reliable to service your watches... I do recommend that you have a watch serviced before you wear it. Over time, the lubricants in an old watch lose viscosity and become gummy, and a watch that has sat for a while likely has accumulated dust, dirt, lint, etc.

Bryan J. Girouard
Art Deco Wristwatches
Posts: 169 | Location: Dallas, Texas U.S.A, | Registered: March 30, 2004
welcome aboard, we're glad you're here. Just remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question. Wink

With the combined expertize we have on this forum, I'm certain we'll be able to answer most of your questions and provide you with honest advice.

After your watches arrive,could please try and post a few pictures of them for us . This way we'll be able to give you a lot more help and guidance about the items you've acquired.

Dave Freeman
IHC Member 321
Posts: 976 | Location: Texas in the U.S.A. | Registered: January 27, 2004
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