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Frequently Asked Questions: Watch Buying & Selling

I have a vintage pocket watch (or watch collection) I want to sell. How do I go about it?
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We buy and sell many vintage watches each year, and we are always in the market for quality watches for our inventory. We pay a premium price for certain brands and models, for repeaters or chronographs, and for watches in excellent condition. We have built a reputation of fairness and honesty in every transaction, and you can be assured that you will be treated fairly when you bring us a watch. I sincerely hope you will give us the opportunity to earn your trust and your business when you're ready to sell.
If you live in the Seattle area and have a larger collection of watches that you are interested in selling, we would be happy to arrange an appointment with you. If you have a single watch (or a few watches) that you're interested in selling, it would usually be necessary for you to send us the watches for an accurate evaluation and a purchase offer. Upon receipt of your watch, we'll do a full and careful evaluation and weI will contact you immediately with our purchase offer for your watch. If you agree to our offer, we'll send funds immediately. If you send us your watch and decline our purchase offer, we will immediately return your watch in exactly the same condition it was received, and we'll even pay the return shipping!
How do you determine the value of my vintage watch?
Like most antiques, condition and rarity are the most important factors in determining the price your watch will bring. We use our extensive knowledge of the vintage watch market, as well as current "book value" to determine the retail fair market value of your watch or collection, and then we will make an offer that gives you the best possible price for your watch while still allowing us some room to resell the watch at a reasonable profit (after all... that's why we buy and sell watches). We often hear that our offers are the best in the business. We'll do everything we can to make your transaction with us a pleasant and profitable experience for you, and we have many satisfied customers!
What kinds of antique or vintage watches do you purchase?
We specialize in American Railroad pocket watches and fine vintage mechanical wristwatches, but we will purchase any mechanical watch of good quality (usually 17-jewels or higher). We will pay a premium price for repeaters, chronographs, watches with up-down indicators, unusual watches, watches with unusual dials, and for watches in extra fine condition. We also purchase Hamilton "Electrics". We do not purchase modern quartz watches.
We are also in the market for LeCoultre Atmos clocks and all marine chronometers, especially those made by the Hamilton Watch Company (model 21, model 22, and model 35). Please call if you have an Atmos clock or a marine chronometer you are interested in selling... we'll give you the best possible price.
If I send a picture of my old watch, can you make me an offer for it?
Unfortunately, we are not able to accurately assess the condition (and therefore the value) of your watches without a "hands-on" evaluation of the watch, so we are usually not able to make offers via photographs or email. If you send us a clear photograph showing both the dial side and the movement of the watch, we can at least tell you if it is a watch we would likely be interested in purchasing.
Are all vintage watches valuable?
If they were, I would have retired a long time ago! Unfortunately, many old watches aren't worth very much at all, except to their owner... especially in non-working condition. The vast majority of the vintage watches we run across are worth less than $500, and many are worth less than $100. Some of the larger watch manufacturers made MILLIONS of watches, so the more common models from the big companies are not particluarly valuable. To be sure, there are some spectacular antique watches that are worth a small fortune because of their rarity, unique workmanship and features, but it's not very likely that you just found one of those in that box of old stuff in your attic. It's much more probable that you found one of the much more common models from one of the major manufacturers... that's why they are common. Of course, proper identification is the only way to know for sure... you might just have a hidden treasure!
What if you don't return my pocketwatch, or don't pay me?
That might work once or twice, but it's not a very good long-term business strategy. If we did that, we wouldn't be in business for very long, and we certainly wouldn't enjoy the reputation we've earned as a fair and honest watch dealer. I wouldn't risk my business, my livelihood, and my professional reputation by acting dishonestly in any transaction. No watch is worth that! My kids have grown rather fond of eating dinner each night, and if I'm out of business (or in jail) I'd have a difficult time feeding them!
People are often reluctant to trust a business they have never worked with before, and we fully understand that. I encourage you to research the reputation of the company or individual you're working with, and trust your instinct!
I am a professional watchmaker, dealer and collector. I have served as an nationally-elected Board member of the American Watchmakers - Clockmakers Institute and have been a chapter officer in the Washington Watchmakers - Clockmakers Association for many years. I am also a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and I am owner/moderator of the Horology Matters Forum, one of the largest online message boards for professional watchmakers and clockmakers. Call and talk to me directly and I will be happy to address any concerns you may have.
Every day we receive valuable, sometimes priceless, heirloom watches that have been sent to us for repair and/or purchase evaluation. We handle hundreds of customer watches each year, and we have hundreds of extremely satisfied customers (read some of their comments here). You can be assured that your sale will be handled securely, quickly, fairly, and with complete confidentiality.
Can I sell my watches myself and realize more profit?
Maybe... but only if you know what your watches are really worth! If you sell your watches yourself you are more likely to realize a price that is closer to full retail fair market value than if you sell to us or any other dealer. Like any dealer, we have to purchase a watch at a price that allows us to resell it at a fair and reasonable profit.
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On the other hand, if you sell yourself without knowing the real value of your watch, it will be hard for you to know if you're getting a fair price for it. So working with an honest dealer you can trust is still the best way to safely and securely sell your watches. This is especially true if you are selling a larger collection, or if you are simply not sure of the value of your watches.
If you do decide to sell your watches yourself, here are a couple of pointers. Do as much research as you can to determine the true value of your watches. Don't assume that the price your neighbor told you or the insurance appraisal you got from your local jeweler is the accurate market value of your vintage watch... it probably is not! Don't confuse an appraisal with a purchase offer... they are very different things. It takes experience and familiarity with the antique watch market to determine an accurate value. There are also many variations in model or construction that can significantly change the value of a watch... are the gears gold or brass? Is the watch single or double roller? Is that a diamond end-stone on the balance? Is the case solid gold or gold plate? What do those markings on the movement really mean? All of these items and many more can make a significant difference in what a watch is worth.
When you are ready to sell, we hope that you will give us a call. We'll do our best to earn your trust and your business.
Do you buy watchmaker's tools? How about vintage watch parts?
Yes, and yes! We buy watchmaker's tools. We buy watch parts. We buy watches!
All watchmakers are tool-junkies... it comes with the profession! We are always interested in purchasing good-quality watchmakers tools, and organized collections of watch materials (parts). I'll purchase small collections or complete watchmaker's shops. We are currently buying complete watches, partial watch movements, pocketwatch movements, wristwatch movements, balance staffs, jewels, stems, mainsprings, glass crystals, watch cases, crowns, Bestfit assortments, Larose assortments, Newall assortments, Swartchild assortments, watch dials, horological books, watchmakers lathes, watchmaker's benches, and just about any other horological items. Before you sell your shop inventory please give us a call.

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