background/report: Vintage watches and the service problem

All vintage watch collectors I know have the same problem. How to get your vintage watches serviced to perfection and in a timely manner. I always have a service queue in my drawers which can be very annoying. Some of my watches that sit in that queue can be seen on the photo and include an Observatory Chronometer, a very rare blue dial Alarm 9443 and some others like the Gyromatic 7046 or a manual wind Chronometer HF in steel.

If you collect vintage watches, the market does not only hold NOS examples, often these old watches need a lot of TLC and Parts! So what is the best way to service your vintage watches?

Most manufacturers have a heritage department and provide service for vintage watches. Some are excellent, others are so-so and with very rare vintage watches, you really don’t want to take any risks. While the advantage is that the manufacture has original spare parts, they are also very strict when it comes to radioactive lume even if Tritium. And who wants his 1960s Diver glowing with super-luminova? I’m not.

So here are a few tips.

Parts: buy whatever you can find and hoard it. One day chances are very good that you will just need that exact part.

Case Polishing: only if unavoidable and if your watchmaker knows what he is doing. A poorly polished case simply ruins a good vintage watch.

Never touch a dial: Any attempt of “repairing” a dial has an unsatisfactory outcome. it is always better to find one day that replacement dial or live with some signs of age. A non-original dial is a no-go for vintage collectors.

Find a local trust-worthy watchmaker: This is key, having a local watchmaker that knows you as a repeat and critical customer is a big plus. If he is well-experienced with vintage watches, he also often has a large pile of parts. And being local, you can visit him frequently (see next point on “patience”).

Patience: I don’t know what it is, but watchmakers work at their own pace. If you have a complicated service, they can be master of procrastination. So show your face now and then and tell him about your ever increasing queue.

However, when all good things come together, you will receive back that perfectly serviced vintage watch, like the Olimpico Chronograph 9245 below and you can now enjoy it for many years to come. And as an added benefit, when you get back a serviced watch, another one from the queue can get serviced.

perfect service

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