I think it’s hard to find good resources to succinctly explain how escapement works. Here are some video resources I recommend that provide an overview. I think useful to start with the movement and then follow with escapements.
– How a Mechanical Watch Works, Animagraffs (moves pretty fast, but covers everything)
– 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)
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.
Let me know if I’m missing your favorite.
There are a few videos that I think are interesting, listening to individuals (dealers and collectors) talk about collecting. You’ll see Eric Wind appear in these frequently. 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.
Tip: listen at 1 1/2x speed!
Specific recommended episodes:
- Blamo! episode with Eric Wind
- 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 of 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, 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).
- 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 they are extremely (I mean EXTREMELY) repetitive – the first 2 minutes will cover everything. This podcast has potential if each episode was cut to 3-4 minutes and he dropped the filler words (about 120 per episode). For the most part. Or whatnot.
- 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); inflection of the host makes it hard for me to listen to, but some interesting guests; not funny.
- 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), not funny.
- It’s about Time with Amit Dev Handa: 10-15 minute episodes; doesn’t add information beyond what I would rather get for other sources, one person with no guests; high-level opinion on pieces and brands.
- Spending Time with A Blog to Watch: sounds as if they have answers to all world (watch) problems, doesn’t add much insight, basically makes up on the fly (if you are going to talk about Mido, research it at least for 5 minutes before recording).
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.
Either no longer updated or rarely with new episodes, but you can find episodes still online:
I rarely watch video podcasts, simply due to convenience. 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).
Databases/registries free to search:
– My 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
– 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.
A cloisonné dial is a type of enamel dial that was more prominently offered in the 1950s, though in small number, and involves the partitioning of the dial using silver or gold wire to create a design. The spaces are then filled with enamel (a soft glass, to which different elements are added to create color), and then fired these dials at between 800-1200 degrees Celsius. In repeated firing, the enamel then melts and bonds to the metal dial.
Read on Perpetuelle for a description of Enamel Explained: The Art of Cloisonné, Grand Feu, Champlevé, Paillonné, Flinqué & Other Enamel Techniques.
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.
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)
* I specifically do not recommend TimeZone due to the terrible moderation of the site and treat 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
– 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
The Complete History of the Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar, Revolution
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
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
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 email@example.com (For Europe) and firstname.lastname@example.org (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 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.
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
Online watchmaking schools and classes that go much deeper:
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