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Antique pocket watch ball park value?

BillL

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Sep 13, 2021
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Can anyone assist me in guessing at the value of this watch? I would like to get some idea to help me decide how much to spend on repairs if needed. If it's a $100 watch I don't want to spend $1000 on it; if it's worth $10k I might.
Details are here: https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/help-identify-peret-watch.182433/post-1489713
Somewhere on this site I saw a Value Forum mentioned but couldn't find it.
Thanks for any info
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Valuing pocket watches is pretty easy. 99% are worth next to nothing. My rule of thumb for valuing a solid gold watch in good cosmetic and working condition is net scrap value of the case plus a few hundred dollars, unless there is something special about the watch, e.g., a famous maker. I think my rule of thumb would apply to your watch. As further support, in 2019, I sold a very similar watch in good working and cosmetic condition with an unsigned dial and movement, but in a coin silver open face case, for $315.

Because your watch is a family heirloom, economic considerations may not play a significant role in your decision-making. If they did, I would tell you that it is rare for the value of a watch to be materially increased by the cost of professionally servicing or restoring a watch. Further, if you do not plan to regularly use the watch, having it serviced is a waste of money, because the watch will need to be serviced again in 5-15 years. Because it works, I'd suggest just keeping it as is if you do not plan to use it regularly. I would not use it to any significant degree if you don't have it serviced because using a watch that needs to be serviced will cause excessive wear.
 

John Matthews

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Collecting pocket watches is my hobby, I have a collection of 250+. I use none of them regularly, however, I try to maintain all of my working watches in good condition and I disagree with Nathan when he says ...

Further, if you do not plan to regularly use the watch, having it serviced is a waste of money,
I regard it as an investment - I consider it to be maintaining my collection for the future.

However, that does not mean that I would have all of my working watches serviced. I base my decision on many factors, but whether I wear it regularly is not a factor.

This statement is absolutely true.

I would not use it to any significant degree if you don't have it serviced because using a watch that needs to be serviced will cause excessive wear.
John
 

gmorse

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Hi BillL,
Somewhere on this site I saw a Value Forum mentioned but couldn't find it.
The 'What is it Worth' forums were discontinued some time ago when the rules were changed, allowing value discussions to take place in the subject forums. However, this doesn't mean that items in active auctions or on sales websites can be discussed or linked to.

If you have a family piece which has lain untouched in a drawer for many years, I think it's worth at least having it assessed just to check that there's no hidden corrosion, even if you don't have it restored to a fully running condition. Passing on a heap of rust to one's descendants won't be appreciated!

A very few drops of water or even heavy condensation that goes unnoticed can wreak havoc with the steel parts of a watch.

DSCF7711.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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John wrote "I disagree with Nathan [(sic)] when he says "if you do not plan to regularly use the watch, having it serviced is a waste of money". John added that "I regard servicing as an investment - I consider it to be maintaining my collection for the future."

Just to be clear, I only collect high-grade watches in good working condition. When I acquire a watch, I normally have it serviced and, if needed, restored to the best condition reasonably possible. I then put the watch in my bank's vault. I wind up each watch perhaps 1-3 times a year. It isn't unusual for a watch that was keeping time reasonably well when I had it serviced to begin to keep time less well 3-10 years after it was serviced. Unless such a watch stops running entirely or need repairs, I see no reason to get it serviced again. I have all of my watches professionally serviced by excellent watchmakers. Servicing is quite expensive. Having many times spent hundreds of dollars having a watch that I had had serviced and restored and deposited in the vault serviced again once, twice, or even three times merely because it began running slowly or too fast, I stopped doing that. I have 400 pocket watches in good working order in my collection. Having them all regularly serviced, e.g., every four years, would cost more than $25,000 a year.
 
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John Matthews

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I disagree with Nathan [(sic)] when he says
Ethan - my apology - it was before breakfast :oops:

I believe we agree - the initial service is not a waste of time even for watches that are not going to be used regularly, which is all I was saying.

I regard that as necessary maintenance for working watches and I would not have a watch serviced again unless it developed a fault - this sometimes happens even with very limited use of the type you describe, e.g. fusee chains can break even on watches that have been conserved by the very best.

John
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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Bill,

Are you going to use the watch?
Are you going to pass it down the line?

If yes, it's worth it to get a service. You will then know your beautiful family heirloom is in good condition and will be preserved for the future. The monetary value of the watch was explained above, but the sentimental value of your watch coupled with it's nice quality and original condition will far exceed this.

I can't foresee what a watchmaker will find inside the watch, but it's hard to imagine $1000 repair bill unless it is in complete shambles mechanically. That would be more of a "cross that bridge when you get there" sort of thing. It looks well kept and runs, which is a good sign.
 
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S_Owsley

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I have a question for the experts. If a watch is fully serviced with synthetic lubricants, why would it need servicing again in 5 years (unless it saw heavy use that would allow dust to creep inside)?
 

thesnark17

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I'm not an expert, but I'll give it a go.

If you're referring to comments earlier in this thread, Ethan is talking about degradation of timekeeping in a watch that sits in one position for extended periods of time without being run. The most likely answer to the puzzle: Lubricant migration.

Even the best lubricants can migrate, and all it takes to stop a precision instrument from keeping precision time is oil in one wrong place (or no oil in one right place, but that is much harder to achieve if the watch was properly serviced). Migration happens more easily in watches that are not being used, as the oil sinks were not designed to hold oil for an extended period of time against gravity. When the watch is running, migration is far less likely since the oil is being actively circulated (far less easy for a micro-drop to form and then run down a pivot onto a pinion, for instance).

The lubricants themselves would not go bad, but that's not to say that the watch would keep great time. On the other hand, migrated lubricants generally do not cause damage and are not cause for a re-servicing if the watch is only being run 1-3 times a year, as stated above. Additionally, the wear parts of the watch in question are almost certainly still protected by sufficient lubricant, and will remain so for the life of the lubricant.

I have heard stories about watches whose rates had been checked extensively over a period of time, where after only a week or two of downtime (!) the watch would not return to previous observed rate when run. I've also heard of watches that took days of running to return to rate after downtime. In such cases I wonder about the quality of the service (of course! who wouldn't?) but the actual problem is likely lubricant migration. (A poor service would over-lubricate, making migration easier.)

It's counterintuitive to say that running the watch regularly increases the service interval, but definitely true - if lubricant migration is the issue that would cause it to need service. I believe they say something similar about cars!
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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We have talked, and talked around this question on many occasions, for instance, what do I do with my collection, would the kids want them, what happens when I just drop dead? That´s a good one :???:. What most of us forget is the pleasure of ownership, much like owning a ticket for the next "Rolling Stone´s" live show, or, or, or? There is of course the chance of profit in the long term, but it is no compensation for owning something you like very much or two hundred of the same, and many of us just don´t make it, " just not yet-keeps creeping in" I once asked a friend about that very subject, he said he was taking them with him, he also said, in another life, he was an Egyptian. Well we all know how that ended, we laughed, but Carter made a fortune out of it. In the end are we happy with what we have, I would say yes, and tomorrow will do as he likes.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Just trying to insert this quote?

Only two things define time, the big bang, and the birth of mankind, to measure the echo´s
 

rstl99

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When I acquire a watch, I normally have it serviced and, if needed, restored to the best condition reasonably possible. I then put the watch in my bank's vault.
Hi Ethan,
You are probably not alone in storing your valuable watch collection in a bank vault. I myself own nothing of significant enough value to warrant having a bank vault. Which I prefer because I can just keep the watches/movements around the house or in my little shop-room, available for me to look at, inspect and compare anytime I want to. Some are right out in the open in a small display case I keep for my own personal enjoyment. I like looking at them anytime I feel like it.

I'm just curious: what is the method you use to enjoy looking at your watch collection given it is locked away in a bank vault, which means you need to make a special trip to the bank to have access to them for a few minutes? Perhaps your collection is principally for future investment, in which case I fully understand your storing them securely.

Regards
Robert
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Robert, I keep my collection in a bank vault because my collection is fairly valuable. Insuring it was expensive and difficult, because I had to keep notifying my insurer of each purchase or sale. I thought about buying a big vault for my home, but that vault would be no match for a burglar who put a gun to my head. That's why, even though my house has a a central station burglar alarm system, is fully-fenced, and located on a private dead-end road on which there hasn't been a crime or burglary during our 34 years here, I moved my collection to the Citibank vault.

You asked me how I enjoy my collection. That's a question I asked myself recently. To be perfectly honest, what I enjoy most about collecting is acquiring new watches and cataloging them. I've only bought two watches this year because I haven't seen many that interested me, making me wonder whether I was losing interest in collecting. Just as I was pondering this, several new auction catalogs arrived with lots of interesting items. Sadly, my interest in a watch begins to fade once I get it.

I've always known that watch collecting never made sense. Pocket watches are not good investments for a variety of reasons (e.g., high transaction costs of buying and selling, cost of maintenance and restoration, weak market). Still, the adrenaline rush of acquiring a watch provides a momentary pleasure that I am loathe to give up. I suppose one could say that I enjoy my collection pathologically.
 
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Dr. Jon

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I too keep most of my collection in several bank vaults. I rent small boxes and and we started with two boxes. We have been taking two boxes for easy access after a death. My will and papers in in a box with my wife as prime.

Hers are in a box with me as prime. I am not sure this is needed now but we do keep severala boxes becuase I need teh space and like to have more than one basket for my "eggs". Lately I have been cataloging it for my heirs. As I go through it I find watches I have not photographed or examined recently and retrieve a few from the vault.

I keep a small number of good watches at home in case I do get robbed. A jeweler I worked for explained that this prevents more extensive costs and give one who breaks in something to take without having to ransack and destroy the house and or hold me up personally.

I never give my home address when buying a high value item or any otem relatable to my collecting. It either goes to my PO box or I have it held for pick up at the carrier.

I do enjoy my collection but ther are too many to "enjoy" all at once. I rotate a few from bank to home and back.
 

John Cote

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I am completely with Ethan on the idea of keeping watches in a bank vault. I may take a few home to photograph from time to time but watches are too easy to steal no mater the amount of home security. I collect wrist watches too and usually keep a couple of those around to wear.
 

rstl99

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Thank you Ethan and Dr Jon for sharing your approach to securing your fine watch collections. As you indicated, acquiring and cataloguing fine timepieces is part of the enjoyment of building a distinctive collection of important specimens from horological history.

I can better understand, after your sharing, how fine collectors like you manage your collection in a secure and responsible manner. That provides me with useful guidance should I one day decide to acquire some fine specimens of my own, as opposed to the orphaned movements that make up most of my "collection" presently (but I adore them nevertheless).

Enjoy your fine collections, and thanks for sharing photos and information about them with members here, to our delight.

Best regards,
Robert
 
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John Cote

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I can better understand, after your sharing, how fine collectors like you manage your collection in a secure and responsible manner. That provides me with useful guidance should I one day decide to acquire some fine specimens of my own, as opposed to the orphaned movements that make up most of my "collection" presently (but I adore them nevertheless).
Robert,

There is a story to be told in a collection of "orphaned movements" and, to me, collecting is all about telling a story. I have collected loose dials and empty cases for most of my 45+ year collecting career. I rarely use these dials and cases for anything. I buy them from jewelers' stock or on NAWCC mart tables. I buy them because they fit in the collection and tell a story about a part of watch manufacturing.
 

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