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Appraising Watches


Watch collecting is still young when compared to the standard collectible fields of coins and stamps. The watch collecting field is growing but information is still scarce, fragmented, and sometimes unreliable. To be knowledgeable in any field, one must spend the time required to study it.

The value of any collectible is determined first by demand. Without demand there is no market. In the watch trade, the law of supply and demand is also true. The supply of the American watches has stopped and the demand among collectors continues to rise. There are many factors that make a watch desired or in demand. Only time and study will tell a collector just which pieces are most collectible. After the collector or investor finds out what is desirable, a value must be placed on it before it is sold. If it is priced too high, the watch will not sell; however, if it is priced too low, it will be hard to replace at the selling price. The dealer must arrive at a fair market price that will move the watch. As with limited edition prints, a watch of supreme excellence is also limited and will increase in value. There is universal appeal and excitement in owning a piece of history and your heirloom is just that.

There are no two watches alike. This makes the appraising more difficult and often times, arbitrary. However, there are certain guidelines one can follow to arrive at a fair market price. As previously mentioned, when watches were manufactured, most companies sold the movements to a jeweler, and the buyer had a choice of dials and cases. Some high-grade movements were placed in a low-grade case and vice-versa.

Some had hand-painted, multi-colored dials; some were plain. The list of contrasts goes on. Conditions of watches will vary greatly and this is a big factor in the value. The best movement in the best original case will bring the top price for any type of watch.

Prices are constantly changing in the watch field. Gold and silver markets affect the price of cases. Scarcity and age also affect the value. These prices will fluctuate regularly.

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