As a watch dealer, the one question I was being asked a lot is how to find and buy the first Vintage Watch, in particular vintage Japanese watches.
The world of vintage watches to newcomers is a minefield, there is countless way you can end up buying a malfunctioning and heavily worn out watch instead of a vintage piece you always dreamed of.
In this short article, I will be spending 4 short articles talking about tips that can help you kickstart your adventure on vintage watches without falling into some frequently found vintage watch traps.
Do your research
Similar to buying any expensive home appliances, it is essential to do your research before starting to look for available watches in the market.
If you are looking for a high end luxury vintage watches such as the Rolex Submariner, you can find enthusiasts create online databases available on the internet easily with detail on each reference.
Take the below website as an example:
You can find details about the dial variance of the 5513 submariners easily over the internet.
Research on vintage Seiko watches
However if you are a Seiko lover like us, things get a bit trickier when you start doing your research on vintage Seikos. Because most Vintage Seikos start off as a consumable items, there are fewer people to collect and keep their history well documented like other luxury watches. Sometimes forums are the best place where vintage watch lovers do their knowledge transfer and share their findings with each other. I have found a really detailed article on Beyond The Dial written by David Flett, where he lay out a detailed history of generations of King Seiko, their variations and the production timeline. What I love the most is the original watch case detail that he includes in the article.
If you love King Seiko, this is a must-read for you.
Check your vintage watch reference
When you have built enough understanding on the background of the watch, it's time for your to check if the reference you are looking for is a legitimate reference.
I personally have experience in finding a non-legitimate reference black dial King Seiko when I first started collecting vintage watches.
Take the below 5625 KIng Seiko with black dial as an example, the King Seiko was fitted with a matt black dial unlike the usual silver sunburst dial we seen in normal King Seiko.
It is often facilitating to see such a rare offering in the market, however this is usually your first red flag when looking for a vintage watch.
Checking Internet sources
You first step before making your purchase decision is to look at watch forums where other watch collector shares similar pieces and look for detail on if there are any differences.
By searching with google, you will find that black dial King Seiko is developed from the aging of deep blue sunburst dial on King Seiko, similar to other other Seiko Vintage watches it always comes with a sunburst dial instead of a matt texture dial. Also the deep blue dial variance only avaliable on King Seiko with Chronometer Certified movement, normal movement 5626 KS or 5625 KS does not come with a deep blue dial.
You can spot the difference instantly by looking at the deep blue sunburst dial on this Chronometer certified 56 King Seiko.
Old Seiko Catalogues
The most accurate way to check if the model you are looking for is a correct reference is to check the historical catalogue of the vintage watch.
Watch website plus9time offers some amazing collections on the Seiko catalogue back in the 70s with colour scanning so that you can understand the correct offering of the specific era. I highly recommend Seiko collectors check out their collection of catalogues.
Not only you can find the original case shape of the reference, you can also see the dial texture and reference of each model. The catalogue is the most accurate way for you to collect vintage watches.
Check out their collection of Seiko catalogues:
Understanding history of the vintage watch
Understanding more about the reference of the model you are looking for will help you avoid falling into traps that many new watch collectors had in their early years, it also help you learn more about the reason of design for different models. such as the Olympic torch logo behind the Seiko Crown Chrono.
Vintage Watch will be a fun hobby to start, next up we will talk about the next tip : Condition of your vintage watch.