Select manufacturers offer Certificates of Authenticity and/or Extracts from the Archives. Manufacturers do not provide watch value estimates.
Certificates of Authenticity are documents that guarantee the authenticity of the watch. They will always require in-person inspection by the manufacturer, and often only available as a part of a service (reasonable, as that will involve taking apart the entire watch).
An Extract from the Archives can be provided without having to send the watch to the manufacturer, rather just numbers on the watch (any of case, caseback and movement) and perhaps photos. As they do not authenticate your watch, they are not the same as Certificates of Authenticity, but can be a useful, albeit expensive, way in many cases to determine the production details (may include description of case, hands, dial, etc.) and date of your watch. In some cases, the Extracts simply document your watch based on images provided, or just information for a serial number provided, and of course do not note whether those pieces were as actually provided on the original watch. And of course, if parts have been changes at any time, it won’t be reflected in an Extract. Keep in mind that the Extract should provide is a description of the watch as it was produced, and only at that single point in time.
I will add one bummer of a quote from Ben Clymer (from the Hodinkee Radio podcast with Eric Wind, Episode 75, starting at 1hr 11m):
“To find an authentic vintage Cartier, I’m talking about pre-69, impossible. Like, absolutely impossible. And in many cases these things come with documentation from Cartier archives, which is bananas. And then you know obviously know people from Cartier that say, ‘that watch was never made.’
‘But, I’ve got a documentation from Cartier, Paris.’
‘Yup, that’s why we stopped doing those.’
…It’s not [just] Cartier. Patek, you know, the archives, there are guys we all know that used to pay people in the archives to produce [Extracts]. But what’s 20 grand if you are talking about a million dollar watch?”
So, just goes to show that you can’t believe Extracts either. Buyer beware, right?
Certificate and Extract costs are referenced in some of the listings below, but please make sure to refer to the manufacturer for the most up-to-date cost and service offerings. If you see any errors or suggestions on other manufactures to add, please contact us.
Audemars Piguet offers Extracts from the Archives and Certificates of Authentication for CHF 250 and, gulp, CHF 1,000, respectively.
The Extract includes timepiece name, material, reference number, case number/movement number, caliber and register date (does not include the location delivered and/or location sold). For a Certificate, the watch needs to be be sent to Switzerland for evaluation, and the document provides information on the watch, a picture, and authenticates the timepiece.
Breguet Museum curators, with physical examination of the timepiece, can provide an official Breguet Certificate of Authenticity with all the information available in the registers (characteristics, date sold, first owner, etc.). The Certificate costs 535 Euros.
While I understood that old records did not make their way to the current brand owners, in 2020 Breitling introduced the ability to order a Breitling Certificate of Authenticity (350 CHF). I am still tracking down if customers can order an Extract From the Archives.
Historically our information has come from forums and information contained in Breitling: The History of a Great Brand of Watches).
While there were few details around the Mr.Biver’s reference that Heuer can provide certificates for every watch and certify their history, we have further learned from TAG Heuer that this Heuer authentication can only be done concurrently with service. To arrange this you will need to visit a TAG Heuer reseller, or return it to their TAG Heuer Official Service Centre.
International Watch Company (IWC)
IWC does not offer an Extract from the Archives, but they do offer a Certificate of Authenticity, issues by the headquarters of IWC Schaffhausen. The Certificate requires an examination by one of their watchmakers, and the information included on the certificate will relate to the type, case and movement, along possibly with information about the watch’s features. The service costs $360.
In order to order the service you will need to either:
a. provide the timepiece to an IWC Boutique or authorized reseller, or
b. send the timepiece directly to their Technical Center in Texas (for mailing information, contact IWC concierge services at email@example.com).
Customers can order a Jaeger-LeCoultre Extract from the Archives, which is available within three months. This service costs 260 CHF and is available for watches over 20 years old.
For 1969 and earlier, contact Longines directly for assistance. They have very good support (and free!) for these inquiries.
Historical information about Longines a watch is available via email, an Extract from the Archives provides the information from the archives on official Longines paper, and a Certificate of Authenticity can be issued if the piece is examined by one of their watchmakers.
All of their services are free of charge!
Movado does not offer Extracts or a service to authenticate vintage watches
After closing for a period during the move of their museum, the Omega Extract service is back up, in a slightly different format for website submissions and also the Extract.
To learn more about the production history of Omega watches before 2000, you can order an Omega Extract of the Archives. The Extract of the Archives contains detailed information relating to a watch and how it left their Biel facilities, as well as production date. There is a CHF 120.00/EUR 110 fee for the Extract. Omega does not provide Certificates of Authenticity.
Omega records have unfortunately been lost for periods of time (there seems to be at least one block). If you try to order an Extract for a piece from this period, you will be notified by Omega (“…in certain cases information has not survived, is unreadable or even missing.”) and your order will be cancelled.
Omega will not allow for requests for Extracts sent to the United States directly from their website. If you live in the U.S. and would like an Extract ($150), there are the following options:
a. Contact Omega U.S. Customer Service at 800-766-6342, to talk to a human press 2 and then press 2 (alternate: 877-839-5224). They will be able to send a form that you fill out and return to them to request an Extract.
b. Email OmegaUSCS@swatchgroup.com for the same form
c. Visit an Omega boutique
One last note: at least one person does not trust Omega Extracts from the Archives before 2010. FYI if you are purchasing an Omega based on an older Extract.
Panerai offers the ability to authenticate your timepiece, but not an Extract from the Archives. To start the process you will need to visit a Panerai Boutique or Authorized Dealer, who will then send the watch to a Technical Center, or contact Panerai via phone or email for shipping instructions.
A Certificate of Origin is provided when a Patek Philippe is purchased, and no duplicate will be issued if lost. For watches more than 5 years old, a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives provides information registered in the Patek Philippe Archives since 1839. The Extract has a cost of 100 Swiss Francs.
Some lots at auction will say “believed to be” or “attributed to” Patek Philippe. This tells us that the seller was unable to get an Extract (or Certificate) for some reason, such as the case and movement not matching, if the case and/or dial is incorrect, etc.
Rolex does not offer a service to authenticate vintage watches
Rolex does not offer a service to authenticate vintage watches
Universal Geneve does offer Extracts, though it essentially is a piece of paper that documents in writing the images that you send to them. These Extracts are not generally valued by the collecting community. Universal Geneve does not offer a service to authenticate vintage watches.
Vacheron Constantin offers three different services: a Certificate of Authenticity, an Extract from the Archives, and a Certificate for Insurance Purposes.
Vacheron Constantin’s Heritage Department upon physical inspection can provide a Vacheron Constantin Certificate of Authenticity with a technical and aesthetic description of the characteristics of your watch and indicates its year of manufacture. The cost is $1,065, plus $75 for shipping and applicable sales tax. Customers provide the timepiece to a Vacheron boutique or an authorized retailer to start the process.
Vacheron Constantin also offers a Vacheron Constantin Extract from the Archives. As with the Certificate of Authenticity, this service includes the year of manufacture, caliber number, reference number, and other technical and aesthetic description of the timepiece. It does not guarantee the authenticity of the timepiece. An Extract certificate costs $188, excluding tax.
Lastly, Vacheron Constantin also offers a Certificate for Insurance Purposes, which provides the watch’s current catalogue price, if still on sale, or the price in Swiss francs when last sold. It does not guarantee the authenticity of the timepiece. This appraisal certificate costs $188, excluding tax. Please note that this “appraisal certificate” is not the same as the value of a vintage timepiece in the current market, which may be more appropriate for insurance purposes.
It is not necessary for the timepiece to be physically examined to provide the Extract from the Archives or Certificate for Insurance Purposes. To obtain these documents, call or visit a Vacheron Constantin boutiques or an authorized Vacheron Constantin retailer.
Zenith offers both Archive Extracts and Certificates of Authenticity.
A Zenith Extract from the Registers takes up to 30 days, and costs from CHF40 – 60 (depending on if you want a hard copy as well)…they actually cut the cost of these by about 65 since 2016. You can see an example Zenith Archive Extract at omegaforums.net.
A Zenith Certificate of Authenticity requires examination by one of Zenith’s watchmakers in Le Locle. You can order this service through one of Zenith’s service centres, boutiques or certified retailers. The cost is 500 CHF, and includes Certificate and reproductions of documents the Zenith teams may find in the Archives of Manufacture in connection with your watch.