So you wonder…how do I pronounce Patek Philippe?
From Philippe Stern:
“Pa-TEK. The second syllable. Of course, in different countries it’s different. But avoid Philippe Patek.” [Hodinkee interview, article April 4, 2022]
There ya go.
There are lots of social channels in which to learn about vintage watches and keep up with the latest finds.
Most of my time is spent on instagram. Key accounts I follow are:
- horomariobro: not vintage, but wonderful detailed images of watches from which to learn what separates manufacturers
- Wind Vintage: vintage pieces available for sale
- Menta Watches: vintage pieces yes, but also watch for the stories where Adam and Sacha Davidoff talk about watches in an unusually frank way (we expect no less from Adam!)
- Most pieces are not to my taste (or wallet…), but the information provided from Horology Ancienne is one of the few bright spots on instagram.
There is an increasing number of watch podcasts and video podcasts available and for the most part…let’s just say they aren’t my thing. They are either are rambling, claim to know the answers to everything, try to be funny and fail miserably, are more “lifestyle” oriented, talk about their weekend for the first 30 minutes of their hour podcast, are ill-informed, and/or are self aggrandizing. But I guess that is really what most podcasts are, regardless of topic, right?
Even within any single podcast I pick select specific episodes to listen to or watch, usually for a specific guest for discussion topic. Tip: listen at 1 1/2x speed!
Let me know if I’m missing your favorite.
There are a few podcasts that I think are interesting, and when I do enjoy them it is generally specific episodes where I can listen to individuals (dealers and collectors) talk about collecting. One of the individuals I look for is Eric Wind, who appears in podcasts from time to time. Eric is a great resource, and readily shares his thoughts with the community:
- Collecting Vintage Watches by Eric Wind via the Horological Society of New York.
- Building Your Ultimate Watch Collection with Eric Wind and Greg Selch.
Other recommended episodes:
- Blamo! episode with Eric Wind
- A Scottish Watches episode with Jose Pereztroika, known for his Perezcope Instagram page and Perezcope website, where he digs into fake Rolexes, Cartier and others, and often the auction houses from where they come. Jose has an interesting back story, where he discusses starting his own platform in 2015 after being banned from the Paneristi forum. He started with writing a few articles on the Paneristi forum on the Panerai fraud taking place within the community, showing issues with watches to create awareness, particularly one of the watches that was professed to be a piece of history (Odyssey of Panerai 6154, 997583), but as he showed, had a replaced dial along with and hands and movement that were not original. The culmination of that article was showing the original dial in the shop of an Italian dealer no less. So as the result of Jose’s feeling of Paneristi and dealers hiding the truth and shutting down the truth, he decided to start up perezcope.com.
- time 4A pint with William from Speedmaster 101. Interesting to hear someone who has such deep knowledge float between all original and “built” pieces, and appreciate both.
- Not vintage, but the Hodinkee episode with Jean-Claude Biver is awesome. Oh to have the passion and energy that he does. Incredible. Keep with it past the first few (crazy) minutes of the episode.
Podcasts, kind-of in order of personal preference
- time 4A pint: a good listen for guests and their vintage timepieces, such as with Eric Wind; Chris Mann also organizes GTGs (in London, unfortunately for us).
- Calibre Podcast, from Watches of Switzerland. This podcast has a strong lineup of guests and historical overviews of different topics (chronographs, the swiss watchmaking industry, Rolex, pilot watches, etc.
- Collectability: all about Patek Philippe, from John Reardon.
- Unwound: 1 hour episodes hosted by two guys – a watchmaker (95% of the talking) and a collector, no guests; provides a nice education in a number of areas, and does touch on vintage; the only ding against this podcast is the heavy focus on Seiko, a byproduct of the watchmaker host having a business (Hub City Vintage) that exclusively refurbishes and sells vintage Seiko.
- TickTocking: all about modern independents; says straight up that he “doesn’t understand” vintage. I enjoy listening to hear a perspective from someone who was formerly employed by a manufacturer which we don’t see in other podcasts (given it was MB&F, it is specific to a very particular environment, but still…), and try to overlook all of the pretentious comments.
- Hodinkee Radio: “lifestyle” focus, which isn’t for me (nor the breakdown of an Apple watch by a non-tech blog); I listen if a guest of interest.
- Worn & Wound: touches upon vintage more than many others, and I enjoy for the guests (more Sinn discussion than I need, though).
- The Grey Nato: hosted by two watch journalists that have more knowledge than your average podcaster listed here; can spend half of the podcast talking about their weekend or how they packed their bags for Baselword, but I can see appealing to a certain audience. I personally prefer podcasts that spend more time on watches.
- No BS Watchmaker: ~10-15 minutes episodes with one guy, who has recorded some walking down the street (seriously?). Unique in that from the point of view of a watchmaker (I’m going to bet that he has not been to watchmaking school). Episodes are extremely repetitive – the first 2 minutes will cover everything. This podcast has potential if episodes were cut to 3-4 minutes and the filler words (about 120 per episode) were pared.
- Watch and Listen: two guys, one of which is the man behind Weiss, up to 3 minutes of ads to kick off the episode (ugh). Some interesting guests. My humor doesn’t quite align, but so it is…
- Love ‘N Watches: ~40-60 minute episodes from a softspoken couple that would likely bring you a bundt cake to welcome you to the neighborhood (you have to listen to understand – this is a podcast I would send my mom); kind of an introduction to watches and collecting; limited vintage discussion.
- The Trading Desk
- Wrist Time
- Two Broke Watch Snobs: not for me; two guys, no guests, modern focus (though one on vintage watch collecting), different type of humor than mine.
- It’s about Time with Amit Dev Handa: 10-15 minute episodes; one person with no guests; high-level opinion on pieces and brands.
- Spending Time with A Blog to Watch: not much new information, and much discussion seems to be on the fly with little to no research performed in advance of recording.
Either no longer updated or rarely with new episodes, but you can find episodes still online:
I rarely watch video podcasts, simply as I find it so much easier to make time for audio-only podcasts while running or in the car. So be forewarned…the content below might stink, might not. I have no idea (feel free to drop me a note to let me know).
Most all are focused exclusively on modern timepieces.
A list of video podcasts (there is an insane number):
- Crown & Caliber
- WatchBox Studios
- Watch Collecting Strategy
- Bark & Jack
- Amsterdam Vintage Watches
- Last Watch Horology
- Frederico Talks Watches
- Bruce Williams
- Armand the Watch Guy
- The Urban Gentry
- The Critical Gentleman
- The Time Teller
- Lume Shot
- Great Affordable Watches
- Just One More Watch
- Watch Lifestyle
- Collecting Vintage Watches
- Teddy Baldassarre
And of course, if you have a favorite that is missing, please let me know).
A select few manufactures offer certified pre-owned watches for sale.
The first to take this on was Rolex, introduced their Rolex Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Programme in December 2022, and subsequently rolled out in the United States in May 2023. Their program, available through select boutiques (such as Tourneau | Bucherer locations, followed by Watches of Switzerland) that have the Rolex Certified Pre-Owned plaque, is available for watches more than 3 years old, and has a Rolex Certified Pre-Owned seal that comes with your watch to certify its status as a certified second-hand Rolex watch, and attests to its authenticity on the date of purchase and, in addition to functioning correctly, is accompanied by an international two-year guarantee. And to answer the question that you have…the prices are not determined by Rolex, but rather set by the Official Rolex reseller.
In March 2023, Cartier entered the pre-owned market leveraging Watchfinder (like Cartier, a Richemont subsidiary), as it’s “official Pre-Owned partner.” Watchfinder will be in charge of the verification and authentication process for Cartier’s pre-owned watches, and buyers will benefit from a two-year warranty issued directly by Cartier. This is also tied to a Cartier part-exchange service in partnership with Watchfinder, available in selected boutiques, which allows collectors the opportunity to exchange any Cartier timepiece for a new timepiece.
Chronoswiss certified pre-owned watches offers collectors the change to purchase pieces no longer in production. These may be found exclusively on their online boutique.
Each Chronoswiss certified pre-owned timepiece has had a complete service of the movement, with replace parts with original spare parts if necessary, and the external parts are meticulously polished. As with the warranty from other certified pre-owned programmes, Chronoswiss certified pre-owned watches carry an international two-year warranty.
Databases/registries free to search:
– The Alpha Hands stolen watch registry
– Watchuseek Stolen Watch Report
– Elite Timepieces Stolen Watch Database (formerly Watchsearcher). Unknown how compiled, no information on pieces in database.
– TZ-UK: Lost and Found
Databases/registries requiring payment to search:
– The Watch Register, from the Art Loss Register. Search fee: £10 + VAT. Claims 70k timepieces in database as of April 2020.
– MyStolenWatch. Search fee: 5 Euro. Claims 30k timepieces in database as of April 2020.
These paid registries do not provide a breakdown of number of watches by manufacturer in their database
I have a different philosophy than others around posting stolen watch information. I post everything to be completely transparent (what types of pieces, how many are in the database, detail on the pieces, etc.), make the database easily searchable (a simple google query can find without a need to log into different websites), and free. The information is all publicly available, so there is not any concern over privacy – individuals with losses have either already posted the pieces as stolen, or have provided the details and approval to share basic information on the timepiece.
Some sites do not post stolen watch information openly as they believe in doing so the thieves would see they are listed, and they will be less likely to put the piece up for sale (publicly),…or so they can charge for access, you decide. And without open access, the natural consequence is that fewer stolen pieces will be returned to their owners. Others believe showing serial numbers will allow thieves to re-use them on made-up pieces.
And to help find your watch in the event it is stolen or lost, ALWAYS keep up-to-date information for your watches, including:
– Numbers!! Serial/case and movement numbers. It is incredible how many people don’t keep these. It won’t help much to post “Stolen: Rolex Daytona” without additional information, unfortunately.
– Any distinctive marks or engraving
– Seller information
– Photos of the watch, preferably with movement and interior caseback images. If you don’t work on or open your watch, ask your watchmaker to take some pictures when you have your watch serviced.
– …and you have insured your watch, right?
If your watch is stolen, you should:
– File a police report – without this, you have little chance of recovery
– Post to watch forums and databases listed above
– Contact manufacturer (they may not care, but at least you tried!)
– Set up alerts on eBay and forums in the event that a watch comes for sale matching the description of your stolen watch
ALWAYS search the web for the watch you are interesting in purchasing. You may be able to find prior sales, or perhaps even that that watch is stolen. Don’t count on auction houses or the seller to do this work for you, because if you do, you might find yourself bidding on a stolen watch available at auction.
Looking to learn more, either in person or from afar?
The National Watch and Clock Museum
The National Watch and Clock Museum is the largest and most comprehensive collection in North America. And if you aren’t in Columbia, Pennsylvania, you can take a virtual tour of the National Watch and Clock Museum. This should be of particular use to knuckleheads like the guy who touches a clock, sending it to the floor and into pieces. Seriously people, DON’T TOUCH THINGS AT MUSEUMS.
Horological Society of New York
The Horological Society of New York is America’s first watchmaking guild, founded in 1866. There are monthly lectures and social events, horology classes,. And their monthly newsletter the Horologist’s Loupe is free for everyone. HSNY membership gives benefits including access to video recording of meetings, priority access to special events and classes, library access, and a digital subscription to the AWCI’s (American Watchmakers – Clockmakers Institute) magazine, Horological Times.
Musee D’Horlogerie De Locle
The Watch Museum of Le Locle is the offspring of a curio collection begun in 1849 (with the watch collection transferred to the Watchmaking School of Le Locle, which later evolved into a Technical School), and revived starting in 1951 at the Château des Monts.
For a thorough listing, see the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors: Museums and Exhibitions website.
It’s hard to find good resources to succinctly explain how mechanical watches works, so I’ve compiled some articles, animations and videos that provide an overview.
For very, very detailed articles…though I must admit that videos and animation (at bottom) always helps me digest faster:
– A Brief History Of Escapement Development from Nicholas Manouous on Hodinkee
– In-Depth: The Modern Watch Escapement, And How It Got That Way, Hodinkee
– How Watches Work: What Is An Automatic Watch And What Different Types Of Winding Weights Are There?, Fratello
– To Be Precise The Improbable Rise Of The Co-Axial Escapement, Hodinkee
Nothing beats (pen intended) a good video:
– Mentioned above, the video How a Mechanical Watch Works from Animagraffs if a personal favorite
– How a Watch Works (Swiss lever escapement), Hamilton Watch (this, from the 40s, is an, um, “classic”! The highlight must be the “marching pieces” at 13:45)
Most all of our learning has come through watch forums, and lots of them. Below are a few that we frequent.
Note that many forums with the title of a specific watch manufacturer also have sub-forums dedicated to other brands. You can head to Omega Forums, for example, to chat about vintage Longines.
Forums of interest to us, in alphabetical order, include:
– Breitling Source – Vintage Breitling
– Chronocentric/ChronoTrader (CT)
– IWC Collectors’ Forum – Vintage Timepieces
– Omega Forums (OF), not just Omgea
– The Rolex Forums (TRF), includes non-Rolex watches
– Vintage Rolex Forums (VRF)
– The Hour Lounge (Vacheron Constantin)
– Watchuseek (WUS)
* Visitors have asked about TimeZone, so as an FYI – I do not recommend TimeZone due to the terrible moderation of the site and treatment of visitors/members. Given the much better quality of other forums, I would highly recommend spending your time elsewhere and not wasting it there.
Brand (or model)-focused
– Patek Philippe: Collectability from John Reardon
– Heuer: OnTheDash (OTD)
– Omega: Speedmaster 101
– American Pocketwatches: American Pocket Watches: A Primer For The Wristwatch Collector
Blogs and magazines
– Hodinkee. Don’t forget to watch the videos, which we really enjoy. The site is not focused on vintage watches, but has had some exceptional in-depth vintage articles, though sadly these are becoming less and less common as the company has transitioned into an AD for a number of manufacturers. We do wish they would stop with the Phillips butt-kissing and do an article on all of the swapped-parts and polished-up vintage dealer pieces sold at auction.
– WatchTime – Vintage Watches
Other blogs and magazines that are not as specific to vintage watches, but are worth following:
– Watches by SJX
– The Naked Watchmaker – the Deconstruction section is particularly awesome
Educational videos to check out
– Horological Society of New York: Lecture Archive (you’ll need to be a HSNY member, but worth it and a great way to support the HSNY and the art of horology!
– [DE]CONSTRUCTED: Watchmaker Breaks Down Swiss vs Japanese Made Watches via WIRED
This website began as a compilation of in-depth information on specifics references and models that we returned to over and over (and over) again. Yes, we could have bookmarked them in Firefox, but instead we decided to create a web page to share with others.
If there are articles in particular you think we should add (the “best of the best”), please drop us a note.
Project 99 — The Race to Develop the World’s First Automatic Chronograph, OnTheDash
A. Lange & Söhne
The Complete History of the Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar, Revolution
In-Depth: The Early Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, Hodinkee
Reference Talk — Audemars Piguet Quantieme Perpetual Automatique, Watch Brothers London
Breguet Type 20 Civilian, Generation 1 , 2 and 3, the spring bar
Origins and details about the Breguet Type XX, ranging from the Type 20 military chronographs, to the 1990s re-edition, Don Indiano
Gallet Professional Wrist Chronographs, Gallet World
A Collector’s History: Heuer Chronographs, International Watch
Heuer Carrera Chronographs, OM
Heuer Carrera Chronographs:A Brief Overview: Then, Now and the Future, ChronoMaddox
Carrera Reference Table, OnTheDash
Carrera 2447 D Guide, OnTheDash
1964 Heuer Carrera Catalog, ChronoMaddox
The Definitive History of the Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer Chronograph, OnTheDash
Operating Instructions for A&F Lunar Time Watches, OnTheDash
The Elusive and Rare Abercrombie Seafarer, Bob’s Watches
IWC (International Watch Company)
The IWC Ingenieur, frizzelweb
A Detailed Look At Early Longines Chronographs, Including The Legendary 13ZN, Hodinkee
Seamaster-De Ville-Speedmasters, with links to Omega Watches, Watchuseek
History of the Omega Speedmaster, ChronoMaddox
Speedy Tuesday – Omega Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide Part 1 and Speedy Tuesday – Omega Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide Part 2, Fratello Watches
Reference Point – Understanding the Omega Speedmaster, Hodinkee
Omega Speedmaster History Part 1 – the early pre-moons and Omega Speedmaster History Part 2 – the 1970s editions, Monochrome
Patek Philippe ref. 3417 Amagnetic Guide, mstanga
The Patek Philippe Seal, Monochrome
Complete Guide to Patek Philippe Vintage Chronographs, Revolution
A Collector’s Guide: The Patek Philippe 3970, A Collected Man
9 Basic Things You Should Always Look At Before Buying A Vintage Rolex, Hodinkee
The Vintage Rolex Buyer’s Guide, Rolex Passion Report. While this article is specific to Rolex, most of the tips can be applied to researching any manufacture of vintage watch.
Public Service Announcement: High Quality Fake Dials, VRF
Rolex Collector’s Notebook: Neat Fonts
5513 Matte Dial
GTM Master 1675
Lessons in Wristory: The Rolex Tru-Beat (Ref. 6556), Wound for Life
Big 1680 Red Submariner post, VRF
Overview all 6 x RedSub versions, VRF
Bracelets, bracelets, bracelets
The Fascinating (And Totally Geeky) Story Of The Rolex Oyster Bracelet [Hodinkee]
Rolex C&I Bracelets, USA Made Oyster and Jubilee Bracelets, Rolex Vintage Forum
Tudor Ranger, Rescapement
“Snowflake” Submariners (unfortunately small images for some of the model descriptions)
Tudor Submariner Snowflake, with examples of fakes
Vintage Tudor Submariners: 94110 Snowflake and 94010 Lollipop, Fratello Watches
Submariner Model 7016 & 7021
Tudor and the French Navy – A Quarter of a Century of Collaboration… (Marine Nationale = MN), Bulang and Sons
Snowflake: Tudor Submariner Icon
The Tudor MilSub: Part II and The Tudor MilSub: Part II, Revolution
Preliminary Notes on Collecting the Early El Primeros: General Remarks (Part 1 of 2), Watchuseek
Preliminary Notes on Collecting the Early El Primeros: Specific Models (Part 2 of 2), Watchuseek
An overview of vintage Zenith El Primero’s : all the stainless steel models (1969-1975), Watchuseek
Ladder bracelets for Defy to A386, Watchuseek
Sorting out Gay Freres endpieces for Zenith, Watchuseek
Zenith A384 variants from black to caramel, Omega Forums
Overview Of The Zenith A386 Case, Omega Forums
Of A386 Casebacks And Forgeries, Omega Forums
Zenith A386 (text alignment on dial), Omega Forums
Forged Zenith A 386 Caseback debate – Summary, Watchuseek
More on A 386 serial numbers, dials, casebacks and forgeries, Watchuseek
Serial, case and movement numbers, if available, can assist in dating your timepiece and the authentication process when purchasing. Selected production date tables and serial number projects (where a site tries to aggregate serial numbers from visitors who submit watch information) are shown below. Please let me know if there are others we should include or there are resources with more accurate information.
Have not been able to locate information. Please contact me if you know of one.
Current Breitling reference model Numbers explained [The Unofficial Breitling Source]
Breitling Serial Numbers from 1944 [Brittons Watches]
Breitling serial numbers for chronograph and non-chronograph [WatchesToBuy]
Have not been able to locate information. Please contact me if you know of a third-party source of production information.
Gruen movement and case serial numbers [Gruen Wristwatches]
Heuer Chronograph Master Reference Table [OnTheDash]
IWC (International Watch Company)
IWC casing and movement numbers [Brittons Watches]
IWC Watch Serial Numbers [Elite Timepieces]
There are also IWC web apps that can help date a particular watch, see IWC Workbook Search and Date Your IWC
IWC serial numbers [Vintage Watch Restoration]
No public production date table known. Worth a try is sending a request (with the engraved number at the back of the timepiece, a picture of the front and back as well as the reference of the movement) to firstname.lastname@example.org (For Europe) and email@example.com (For the US).
You can receive production information by obtaining an extract.
Have not been able to locate information. Mido Watches will reply (usually) to requests for information, though it is rather hit-or-miss in terms of detail provided. Please contact me if you know of a third-party source of production information.
ilovemyspeedmaster (Moonwatch calibers 321, 861 and 1861 only)
Omega Speedmaster Evolution (Case, Calibre, and Serial Numbers) [Chronomaddox]
Omega Serial Numbers by Year [Chronomaddox]
Omega Vintage Watches [Omega]
Patek Philippe [Vintage Watch Restoration]
Rolex production dates [Oysterworld via Vintage Rolex Forum]
Rolex Case Numbers and Case Number Project (button at top, via Vintage Rolex Forum). Case numbers by production date are shown at the bottom of the ‘Rolex Serial Number Project’ button. [Vintage Rolex Forum]
Rolex serial numbers with production dates [QualityTyme]
And some bonus reading on bracelets:
The Fascinating (And Totally Geeky) Story Of The Rolex Oyster Bracelet [Hodinkee]
Rolex C&I Bracelets, USA Made Oyster and Jubilee Bracelets [Rolex Vintage Forum]
Tissot Serial Numbers
Tudor Serial Number Project (button at top, via Vintage Rolex Forum). This only includes the project information, held in Google docs format. [Vintage Rolex Forum]
Tudor serial numbers with production dates [QualityTyme]
Universal Genève Information [Dre on omegaforums] through 2.57.
Universal Geneve, as with most other manufactures, does not provide information on serial number dates (we are left to figure this out via known extracts) nor production figures.
The below table is one commonly found on the internet. However, I am unable to match the dates in this table against known production dates (from Vacheron) against a set of watches from the 1940s. I have not reviewed this table more widely against other references across time.
Vacheron Serial Numbers [WatchesToBuy]
There is an alternative Vacheron serial number table that some use. I have however, found the top table from publised at WatchesToBuy to be more accurate. If you find otherwise, please give me a shout.
Curious what that three letter stamp on your movement indicates?
The most comprehensive listing of US import codes we have found is available via the Ranfft Watches US Import Codes website.
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 a quote from Ben Clymer (from the Hodinkee Radio podcast, Episode 75, starting at ~1hr 12m):
“…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 you know. And then you know…obviously know people from Cartier that say, ‘that watch was never made.’
And I’m like, ‘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 these things. But what’s 20 grand if you are talking about a million dollar watch?”
That comment foreshadowed the blockbuster news in 2023 around the faked Omega Speedmaster. For more details and links, see the ‘Omega’ section below.
The result of this news and comments? Well, it means that an extract is just one more piece of information to leverage when doing your research. Trust but (continue to try to further) verify! When available and the situation warrants, you may with to step up and order a Certificate (or otherwise named), where the manufacture will take apart the watch to confirm it is correct.
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.
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). A Certificate requires that 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.
Blancpain includes an Extract as a part of their watch service at their vintage workshop in La Brassus. Pricing is based upon the service and/or restoration performed.
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).
Cartier does not provide information for any pieces that are not currently sold within their Cartier Collections. So even if the watch was retired a year ago, no information is shared. Bummer!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
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
Omega has had quite a bit of back-and-forth regarding their Extract from the Archives service, and we were disappointed to read in mid-2023 that the service is “Temporarily Unavailable.” However, the reason why became clear shortly thereafter when the news hit around the franken Omega Speedmaster, in which the Head of the Omega Museum and its Brand Heritage Department were alleged to have participated. Ooof. For more details, see the article from Perezcope, ‘Tropical’ Speedmaster 2915-1 – A Record-Breaking OmeGaga At Phillips, which was ultimately found to be put-together. Perezcope refers to a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ in the article, but it appears, at least from images, that it is an Extract instead of a COA which was at issue.
Prior to and separate of that crazy news, there are individuals that have found issues with Extracts and do not trust Omega Extracts from the Archives before 2010.
In the interim…while Extracts are not currently available, timepieces that are more than 30 years old continue to be eligible for Certificates of Authenticity (COA). For the COA service, watchmakers in Switzerland will examine the watch and establish its authenticity using information from Omega’s archives. They work to confirm it has the correct Omega calibre (and Omega components) and that the head must have all the correct features “corresponding to the information in [their] production documents and service guidelines.”
As reference, the unavailable Omega Extract of the Archives contained detailed information relating to a watch and how it left their Biel facilities, as well as production date (Fratellowatches wrote on the process. There was a CHF 120.00/EUR 110/USD $150 fee for the Extract.
Omega records have unfortunately been lost for periods of time (there seems to be at least one block of time lost). If you try to order an Extract for a piece from this period, you will be notified by Omega that “…in certain cases information has not survived, is unreadable or even missing.” and your order will be cancelled.
One final note on Extract orders – Omega did not allow for requests for Extracts to be sent to the United States via their website form. So, if you lived in the U.S. and wanted an Extract, there were 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 would send you a form that to complete and return to them.
b. Email OmegaUSCS@swatchgroup.com for the same form as above
c. Visit an Omega boutique
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.
As of April 1, 2021, a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives will only be available for pieces that were sold up to 1989 (from 1839), at a cost of 500 CHF. In addition, only one extract will be issues per timepiece for a period of five years, and if multiple requests are made form different sources for the same timepiece, only the first request will be fulfilled. Extracts are only available in English.
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 if you contact them, if their contact works…sigh…this company is just such a shame now. I am not sure of the cost of the Extract.
The Extract is 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 $880, 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 $160, 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 $160, 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.
Some of our favorite articles on watch movements and complications:
Worn & Wound: Chronography Series
Chronography 1. A History
Chronography 2: Column Wheels & Cams
Chronography 3: Counting Registers
Chronography 4: Lemania 5100
Chronography 5: The Valjoux 7750
Chronography 8: Meca-Quartz — Is It Really the Poor Relation?
Chronography 9: Valjoux 72 – The Driver’s Engine
Chronography 10: Three Excellent Vintage Calibers from Seiko and Citizen
Hodinkee: In-Depth: A Detailed Survey Of The Split-Seconds Chronograph, And Its Cousins
You can learn a lot from forums online, but it’s nice to get out of the house once in a while. So why not find a local watch get-together (GTG) to meet up with others who are just as watch-obsessed?
If you prefer field trips, and enjoy some spirits as well, check out your local RedBar chapter (if you don’t know someone who already attends…good luck with you cold-email to the organizer(s)), with get-togethers held at bars, retail stores, museums, and more. RedBar isn’t the only organization around, with different groups by city – check out watch forums and in-person watch events to track these down.
If you do attend a watch GTG, don’t go diving into the watch pile, reaching around and over people to grab watches. At least say “hello” to the owner before fondling their goods, and politely ask if you can check out their watch or try it on. Some owners will prefer their watches set on their side so not to mar the case. Oblige.
Some meetings aren’t limited to a local area – there are groups of vintage collectors take field trips. Far away. Such as all the way to Switzerland, such as for the Heuer’s Collectors Summit. Now that’s a field trip.
There are a few different ways to get an introductory hands-on experience with watches and their movements, one of which is to simply buy (inexpensive) watches on eBay and take them apart.
But, if you aren’t going hands-on with your own timepieces, and prefer some guidance that comes with a classroom (from the very basics in a few hours to more in-depth):
– See if there are any local watch communities that offer classes.
– The Horological Society of New York offers not only a speaker series but also HSNY watchmaking classes – they are a great resource and no background is needed. I’ll throw in my support and suggest considering a HSNY membership. It is a great way to support the organization and their goal or advancing the art and science of horology, plus you get priority access to the classes and access to their library. Don’t worry if you aren’t in New York, HSNY also takes their (education) show on the road, offering classes in selected cities throughout the United States. Awesome! Plus, their speaker series is available online to HSNY members.
– The AWCI has a variety of one or multi-day classes available, including:
— the traveling “Build a Watch” class: 6 hours in length, and includes lunch or dinner. Next classes up are in Vegas, baby! Class prices typically range from $900-$1300.
— a 3-day Introduction to Watchmaking crash course at the NAWCC School of Horology in Pennsylvania, and
— in-depth classes ‘Restoration & Construction Techniques’, ’21st Century Watchmaking Standards, and ‘Essential Micromechanics – Watchmaker’s Lathe 1’ at AWCI just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.
– The NAWCC has a Watch and Clock Traveling Workshop Program.
If you can’t bail on your 9-5 job, but still want to start down the path to becoming a watchmaker, or simply pick up skills to become more involved with your hobby, there are a number of “distance learning” (aka home, remote or online) courses that provide the opportunity.
First off, if you have 20 minutes, even if you aren’t going to be doing any work, you can learn how a mechanical watch works courtesy Hamilton from 1949.
Some introductory learning videos (not schools/classes):
An Electrical Engineering View of a Mechanical Watch (from MIT)
How a Mechanical Watch Works
Introduction to the Gear Train of a Wristwatch
Watch Movement Animation
Deeper classes and training
The Naked Watchmaker Masterclass with Peter Speake and Daniela Marin has just been released with an introduction to the history, parts, how the mechanism works and terms, and an introduction to complications. This is the first in a future series from The Naked Watchmaker. What is extremely cool is that there is also a 1:1 (Zoom) class available, of course at a much higher price point. But talk about an experience! How often do you get 5 hours of 1:1 time with an independent watchmaker with a background including the likes of the Excenter Tourbillon and Horological Machine No.1, in addition to creating a namesake brand? Never.
Learn Watchmaking (only a couple of classes available, with their Learn Watchmaking 101 being their main offering, an introductory 5 hour course)
Online watchmaking schools:
TimeZone’s online class
British Horological Institute
The NAWCC offers a large number of online programs
Gem City College Watchmaking and Repair School previously was available remotely, but now offers coursework only on-campus
British Horological Institute Distance Learning Course
If online isn’t for you and you are considering in-person schools, NAWCC has a listing of full-time Watchmaker and Clockmaker Schools worldwide.
A few in the United States:
Patek Philippe Horology Programme, New York, NY
Lititz Watchmaking Technicum, Lilitz, PA
Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School (part of the Swatch Group), Miami, FL
Gem City College, Quincy, IL
NAIOSW – North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking, Dallas, TX
North Seattle College
Paris Junior College, Paris, TX
York Time Institute, York, PA
And outside the United States (see also the list from The Naked Watchmaker):
WOSTEP, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
British Horological Institute, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Ecole Technique de la Vallée de Joux
Ecole d’horlogerie de Genève
Hiko Mizuno School of Watchmaking, Tokyo, Japan
For the most part we leave our interaction with watches to winding and wearing, leaving service and repair work to professional watchmakers.
But if we do decide to try something a little less involved, like changing a strap, we look to the following for the basics such as spring bars and spring bar tools, case cushions, etc.:
– Otto Frei
We have added a few basic items in our Accessories section under Tools