Why buy from Losttimes.com?
It's true that you could buy modern and vintage wristwatches from an individual selling on eBay, a stranger at a watch show,
or your local dealer. It's also true that you could pay less for unrestored watches and take a chance
that you'll be able to restore a watch easily. And it's certainly true that you could buy from
a dealer who cares more about money than about watches.
You could do all of these things…but why would you want to?
If you are purchasing a vintage timepiece for the first time or are still relatively new to
collecting vintage wristwatches, there are several key concepts you should understand
before making an informed decision to buy. Of course, we are always happy to answer any
questions you may have about one of our timepieces but it is also helpful to you,
the collector, to understand a few general concepts before contacting them.
Vintage watches, like antique cars, are mechanical instruments that can wear down over time
without proper maintenance. It is important to remember that back in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's,
wristwatches were not considered collectible at all. Rather, they were everyday objects prone to all
sorts of mishaps.
Although many vintage timepieces are found with pristine, surprisingly accurate movements,
others have been damaged over the years by careless watchmakers as well as a lack of
routine servicing. Without regular cleanings, the oils used to lubricate a watch's movement
may harden and cause friction to occur between various parts of the mechanism. In these instances,
when a major overhaul is required, restoring a vintage wristwatch can quickly become a costly
That having been said, we would like to point out that while most vintage mechanical
wristwatches (with proper maintenance) tend to be accurate to within 30 seconds per day,
no vintage watch, no matter how carefully regulated, can rival the precise accuracy of
contemporary quartz watches. Returning to our car analogy, the cars of yesteryear,
although stunning in their design, cannot hope to match the speed, performance and
efficiency of today's automobiles. Quite simply, today's technology is far superior.
On the other hand, modern automobiles, although efficient and practical, lack the style,
uniqueness, value and indeed character associated with vintage automobiles. The same is true
of vintage watches. While there is no such thing as absolute accuracy when it comes to
vintage wristwatches, these magnificent timekeepers of yesteryear still perform admirably
enough to be worn in everyday life.
In sum, we can't promise that our vintage watches will tell the time down to the exact second,
but we do guarantee that once you experience the pleasure of wearing a finely crafted,
uniquely designed vintage timepiece, you'll never go back to quartz again.
In the same way that an auto mechanic tunes up an automobile, a watchmaker “adjusts” or
regulates a fine mechanical wristwatch movement.
Regulating a watch consists of observing its daily deviation in various positions and
temperatures and adjusting them accordingly. Depending on the quality and desired
accuracy of a watch, varying regulating procedures are used. The usual regulation
of a good quality watch consists of testing in dial-up (lying) and crown-up (hanging)
positions. The deviations between these positions are usually 30 seconds a day at most.
In officially prescribed precision regulation, watches are tested and adjusted in at
least five (5) positions and at two different temperatures.
A requirement of effective regulation is an exactly balanced balance, since center-of-gravity
error would otherwise occur. In most cases, correction of a mechanical watch is done by
carefully adjusting the regulator, which changes the effective length of the hairspring.
The art of regulating mechanical watches consists in principle of keeping the number of
swings of the balance or hairspring as constant as possible despite disturbance
from external influences such as temperature and position changes.
When the frequency changes, errors result. Fine regulation
(i.e., to five positions and two temperatures) is usually indicative of a high-quality timepiece.
Box & Papers
Almost all vintage timepieces, when originally sold, were accompanied by presentation boxes,
warranties, owner's manuals (“papers”) and other such accessories. Furthermore,
most watches were sold with a leather band and buckle designed to compliment the timepiece.
Needless to say, most people either discarded or lost these items over time. Today,
a vintage watch with its original box and papers and/or original buckle and band
commands a significant premium over similar examples missing these items.
Unless otherwise noted, our watches do not come with original boxes, papers, accessories,
bands or buckles. We do, however, pride ourselves on selecting bands and buckles
which not only compliment the vintage timepiece in question, but also are appropriate
to the era during which the watch was produced.
Bumper automatic vs. full rotor automatic
Movements of the hand move a swinging weight (rotor or pendulum). An apparatus makes the winding
drive always turn in the same direction to wind the mainspring. A sliding coupling (drag spring)
prevents overwinding the mainspring. Automatic watches usually are more precise than watches
with hand winding, because they usually run at full spring strength.
Bumper movements tend to be older self-winding movements in which the rotor can only turn 180 degrees,
as there are springs or “bumpers” which restrict the rotor's movement within the case.
Full rotor automatic movements, on the other hand, were developed in the early 1950's and
feature rotors mounted in such a way that they can revolve a full 360 degrees within the case.
Such movements are generally more desirable and expensive, in addition to being more accurate.
Full rotor automatic movements were generally offered in more expensive wristwatches.
With respect to a wristwatch movement, caliber designation refers to its manufacturer,
reference number, size and complications (if any). The term “ebauche” refers to the raw movement
itself prior to finishing and adjusting; it is the heart of a watch. Even as far as the early 1920's,
watch manufacturers did not make their own raw movements. Instead, they would buy the raw movements
from ebauche producers in Switzerland.
The components of a raw movement (plates, bridges, blocks, wheel trains, hands, etc)
could be purchased in various grades of preparation – for example, with or without jewels.
Because of the work and facilities involved, raw movements were and still are made by only a
few specialized producers. However, the value and desirability of a vintage wristwatch movement
is usually determined by how finely it is finished, not which ebauche it was based on.
Dial Refinishing (see: WATERPROOF and ORIGINALITY)
Many vintage wristwatches, at some point or another, have had their dials refinished.
Dial refinishing refers to the process of restoring a watch dial to its original appearance.
Over time, when exposed to sunlight or moisture, watch dials which are made of silver or
silver-plated brass tend to fade and oxidize, causing the dial to become unattractive or
even unreadable. Without going into a lengthy technical explanation of how dial refinishing works
(essentially, it's a chemical process in which a watch dial's original finish is removed,
then reapplied), the most important concept to understand is that not all refinished dials
are created equal.
Like any watch restoration process, dial refinishing is an art and a science,
and there are not many companies left which can duplicate the look and quality of an original dial.
Our 18 years of experience allows us to determine when refinishing makes
sense and when it does not. Moreover, we have access to the finest dial refinishers in the industry.
Whenever a dial restoration is decided upon, we always take into account the original appearance
of the dial, the correct size and font of the lettering, and so on. In fact, our restored
dials are so beautifully refinished that many collectors mistake them for originals.
Whether you are a discriminating collector seeking absolute originality, or simply want a
vintage watch that looks great and can be worn casually, we have the right timepiece
Originality (see: TRIPLE-SIGNED and DIAL REFINISHING)
Every single watch offered for sale is guaranteed to be genuine and in as
close to its original condition, both mechanically and cosmetically, as possible.
Obviously, when dealing with a fifty year old timepiece, there is no way to guarantee
that every single component in the movement is completely original, but we will
not sell any vintage timepieces which have been improperly tampered with or modified.
From our own experience as collectors, we realize that certain watches lend
themselves to restoration, while others are best left original. We will
not sacrifice cosmetic appearance for the sake of originality, however. With this in mind,
we offer watches for both the discriminating collector seeking absolute
originality, as well as watches that can be worn casually and have been restored to look like new.
As far as restoration goes, we replate cases and refinish dials only when necessary,
and with an eye toward maintaining the watch's original appearance. Either way, you can
rest assured that every watch sold by us is a vintage timepiece you can be proud to wear.
Triple-Signed (see: ORIGINALITY)
When we write in our descriptions that a watch is “triple signed”, we are describing a watch
that has been “signed” (i.e., stamped with the name or trademark of its manufacturer) on its movement,
case and dial. Triple signed watches are much more desirable and collectible than watches
signed only on the movement and dial because triple signed watches are considered to
be more complete and original than their “double signed” or “single signed” counterparts.
It should be noted that while certain watches may not be triple signed, they are nonetheless original.
Especially during the first half of the 20th Century, Swiss watch manufacturers were unable
to import fully completed wristwatches and pocket watches into the United States, due to
extremely high tariffs on solid gold cases. The solution was to export the movements and dials
separately, and case them up in American made gold cases. Today we find many early watches,
such as those by Vacheron & Constantin, housed in American “contract cases”. Although these watches
are not worth as much as triple-signed watches, they are no less beautiful and offer great
values for the budget-minded collector.
Conversely, there are also watches that are not triple signed, but not necessarily original.
During the Great Depression, as well as the early 1980's when gold was worth $850 per ounce,
millions of solid gold watch cases were melted down. Years later, when vintage watches became
a hot collectible, many of these orphaned movements and dials were placed in less expensive (and
sometimes laughably inappropriate) cases by watch dealers and collectors.
In more nefarious instances, a dial from one watch would be matched up with a movement from another,
then re-cased. Needless to say, such “put together” watches are not very desirable and
we do not deal in them. Our customers should also be forewarned that many vintage
timepieces being offered in Internet auctions have been improperly tampered with or modified.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There are no absolutely waterproof watches. Watches called “waterproof” must be able to
withstand the water pressure of a one-meter depth for one hour. Divers' watches must be able
withstand much higher water pressure at even greater depths. In the 1950's a series of
quick testing methods, employing a device in which the watch case is immersed in
water, were developed for use by watch repair facilities.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to guarantee that any vintage watch we sell
(including sport watches originally intended for diving) is still waterproof. The fact of the
matter is that the rubber gaskets which provide water-resistance must be replaced and the
watch extensively re-tested before exposing the timepiece to water for any length of time.
Because such a repair is generally cost prohibitive, we do not normally undertake such repairs.
Nor do we recommend swimming, showering or diving with any vintage watch.
Although most vintage watches will not be harmed by casual moisture, they are by no means waterproof
and should be cared for appropriately. It is best to avoid any type of moisture altogether.
Finally, we are unable to modify vintage watches so as to guarantee that they will be
waterproof or water-resistant.
Please be assured that every timepiece we sell has been authenticated and if appropriate,
correctly restored. We also offer one of the most liberal return policies
in the industry. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, simply return
the watch in the condition it was sent within 5 days of receipt for a full refund minus shipping and credit card processing fees, if any.
We have over 18 years experience in the field of buying and selling wristwatches
and are members of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, as well as the
International Watch & Jewelry Guild.