A Guide to Vintage Watches

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Terms such as “smartphone” and “wearable technology” have managed to casually slip into the modern lexicon. With what seems like hundreds of products boasting new technological advances released every year, the rate has been both staggering and overwhelming. Still, despite what may be on the horizon, we see no indication that the classic wristwatch will ever go by the wayside. Steve McQueen wore the Monaco. Sean Connery had the Submariner. With so many models, brands and styles out there, it’s difficult to get oriented and find a place to start. For some insight, we met up with Richard Reichbach of Time Titans. He’s the son of a clock maker and our guy for watches. Here are a few pointers that we picked up from Richard on our visit:

The Primary Focus: Aesthetics

“When a buyer is looking to purchase a watch, it really comes down to knowing what appeals and speaks to them on an emotional level. Watches are all about design and aesthetics. After doing some research and identifying what you like, the next step is to determine what is the market value on such a thing. A watch is an investment, so it’s really an emotional decision.”

Vintage vs. New

“Shopping vintage is two fold: style and quality. I’m not in love with many new watches. Why get a more expensive remake when you can get the original at a better value? The movements on new watches are nice but the components are built all over the world. This may lead to a loss in quality and focus. There are a handful of true manufacturers still doing it the way that they used to such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.

What I like about vintage is that they were produced at a time when everything was pre-branded. When watches were simply cool and had each had a genuine purpose. The Breguet Type XX Fly-Back Chronograph was a military instrument used by pilots. Watches were the original tools before computers.

Like an old pair of Tony Lama boots, the appeal is in the quality of construction. Part of it is having foresight. For instance, the Daytona, which is the king of vintage Rolex, was not appreciated when it was first released. Through curating a collection of watches, you can buy sell, and even mix a few new ones in there.”

Buy the Seller

“‘Buy the seller’ is something that everyone will tell you. If you find someone online, get him or her on the phone because you can get a sense of their moral character. Also check a seller’s credentials to see if they are part of any groups, such as IWJG (International Watch and Jewelry Guild). Most sellers are good and they understand that reputation is everything in this business. I want long-term relationships with my customers, and these are the kind of sellers that a buyer should look to do business with.”

Top Watches

(Richard’s top 3 favorites watches)

“The Omega Speedmaster

The Speedmaster family has remained mostly unchanged for the last 50 years. As a brand, Omega is only second to Rolex, which is one of the reasons I like acquiring them. When compared to the Rolex Daytona, a Speedmaster is every bit as nice and you can find them for 1/10th of the price. A nice aged Speedmaster is something I can see any guy getting into. Speedmasters have a classic style and they’re easy to acquire at a terrific value.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Watch

This is as good as it gets when it comes to a vintage military watch with an oversized face.

The Breguet Type XX Fly-Back Chronograph

As I mentioned earlier, these were instruments used by military pilots. They have a large face and the craftsmanship of these timepieces is incredible.”

Resources

1. Watchuseek – The largest collection of horological links, watch forums and a collection of fine watches and accessories.

2. Hodinkee – Wristwatch news, reviews and original stories.

3. Timezone – One of the leading resources of watch news, features and information.


To get into touch with Richard and see his vintage watch offerings, visit the Time Titan website and follow them on Instagram to stay up-to-date with new acquisitions.

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