Hamilton Khaki

Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at value, how to figure out what the value of your watch is, and who to trust when on the hunt for that information. So let’s get into it.

Now, there are really two separate elements to the concept of value: on one hand, you have the empirical monetary amount as determined by retail price, the current market, etc. On the other hand, you have personal value, which includes what the piece means to you (and historically) on a deeper, more emotional level. We’re not going to get too much into the latter, instead focusing on the more financial side of things (for now).

One of the more frequent questions we are asked at T&H is how much someone’s watch is worth. Often, it’s either an heirloom piece of some kind, or a solid garage sale find that someone couldn’t pass up, and he or she wants to know the monetary value of the piece. We see this question most with vintage watches, for obvious reasons (there’s often no reference point for vintage the way there is for a still-in-production model with an RRP). To these people, we tend not to give a number for two reasons: first, the market is a fickle thing, and it doesn’t stay constant enough when it comes to specific numbers to really make that statement and have it be true in even a week, let alone months or years. Second, unless we see the piece in person, it’s difficult to get a truly accurate number anyway.

Monetary value incorporates several things, including condition and the current state of the market. Michael Stockton goes into solid detail about the state of the market and how it fluctuates, so I won’t step all over his toes here. As for condition, that really, really becomes subjective. One of the most common debates in the watch world is about the idea of patina, and whether it is good or bad. Christian and I are both in agreement about how much we dig patina as long as it isn’t destructive in nature. Other people, however, like their vintage pieces to be as close to new as possible – untarnished by age. Some universal factors when it comes to condition are the originality of all components of the watch, the movement’s branding is correct and actually a movement used by the brand, case damage or scratching, and lug polishing. (check the picture of the GMT in this thread to see what over-polishing looks like).

So where do you go to find out what your watch is worth? Well, Bloomberg has a stellar guide on figuring this out, but we’ll touch on a few of the key points here. Obviously, start with Google. If you don’t know much about the piece other than the name on the dial, what style it is (chronograph, dress watch, diver, etc.), then Google may well be your best friend. It’ll probably land you on some comparable listings on eBay and Chrono24, and from there you can start to get a sense of things. Alternatively, try to take it to your local watchmaker and see what they have to say. They may not be able to give you much more than a ballpark figure, but they can also examine things like the movement and case info that you simply can’t unless you have the right tools. From this, they can begin to make their deductions, like Sherlock Holmes, only with one, key exception: they’re really, really good at keeping it classy, watchfam.