Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Vintage Collector Watches: Small & Profitable

Original condition 1966 Omega Speedmaster Professional 321 is offered for $3,499 at

You have a clock on your computer, by your bedside, and even in your car, but the one on your wrist is the one that can bring a smile to your face. Wrist watches as time pieces have kept us on time for many decades and lately, their value has gone through the roof. And while you might be familiar with names like Rolex and Cartier, have you heard of Patek Phillipe?

Wrist watches can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their owners may have little idea to their value. I’ve purchased a box lot of watches with up to 25 individual pieces and later discovered there was one worth $2,500 while the others only had values from $25 - $100. But, when they were purchased for a grand total of $500, this was a fantastic purchase.

Older time pieces have been passed down through the family with little thought as to their value. Often a person will sell these watches for $25 because it doesn’t have a band. Of course with rare exceptions, these bands if they had one would have no value anyway.

You can check for prices on watches on eBay’s completed sales or on the Internet for auction results at the major auction houses. There are also price guides for watches you can purchase. I encourage you to find a guide and buy a used copy. I promise you, if you study the watch guide, you will run across a watch that will bring you many times the money you paid for it. I used to wonder why some of the dealers took so much time examining boxes of what I thought were worthless time pieces. Now I know the truth. There was gold in them there boxes.

I am often able to buy old watches for $5 or $10 dollars that have 10 to 18 carat gold cases. The value alone of the gold can be several hundred dollars on these pieces. Most people would think that the jewels in a watch would have the most value, but in truth, they are almost valueless compared to the gold. If you happen to be extremely fortunate, you might even find a watch in a platinum case. Then you can really celebrate.

What makes a watch valuable? First is rarity. Then, several other factors come into play such as the manufacturer, age, materials (platinum, gold, silver or other) condition, and whether or not it is all original or designer piece.

With the price of gold and platinum where they are today, you must always figure in the value of the case, and then real money can be made just from the case alone, if it is 18K gold or higher. Any platinum watch will bring some money.

If you can find a vintage watch with its original band, buckles, its box, and all the original papers, you’ve found yourself a real winner, and it will command a large premium over comparable watches that are missing these items.

Have you seen the ads in your local paper where a company will take out two or more full pages in the paper purchasing old watches? Can you imagine the cost of these ads? Well, they aren’t in the business of losing money, so there must be great profits to be made in this material. Why not learn from these people who come into your area, advertise in a big way, and then make away with huge profits. They should be at a disadvantage, because in most cases, we don’t trust strangers. So in reverse, they do know you and hopefully you have their trust, so this business could be yours. You can get this business by placing a small ad at the same time they’re running theirs, but say you are a local buyer.

Be sure to add watches to your list of desirable things to watch for because they are perhaps one of the potentially profitable items that I can think of. And they don’t take up much space. Tick, tick, what a great sound.

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