Is it worth it to repair a vintage watch?

That depends. Paul Newman’s “Exotic” Daytona, made in 1968, was sold at an auction for $17.7 million, in case you’re wondering how much they can be worth.

Unfortunately, these luxury timepieces are still mechanical devices prone to damage over time. If you own a damaged vintage watch that’s a cherished family heirloom or a prized possession, many vintage watch repair shops in Frisco can assess the extent of the damage and recommend repairs for your precious item.

One major concern for vintage watch owners is if repairing the damage will affect the watch’s value. The quick answer would be yes. Repairing the damage would mean replacing the watch’s original parts, which can decrease the item’s value, especially if done incorrectly. But for the sake of information, it’s important to know the various damages that can affect a vintage watch and how to repair them.

Repairing a Vintage Watch

Refinishing The Case

The case of a vintage watch can suffer from scratches, dents, and wear over time. Refinishing the case is a common solution to restore its original appearance. However, the consensus is that refinishing can also lower the value of a vintage watch if it’s not done properly. Many vintage watch collectors prefer unpolished and original watches since this helps them maintain or exceed their initial value.

The best way to refinish a vintage watch case is to take it to an expert watchmaker. They can remove scratches and dents without sacrificing too much material. Make sure to match the finish of the case to the original one. An experienced watchmaker can make the watch look new without damaging it, but you cannot undo what has already been done in terms of the watch’s value.

The Watch Crystal

A vintage watch’s crystal is the first line of defense against outside elements. These elements cause the watch to get damaged or cracked, making it difficult to read the time or detracting from its appearance.

Replacing the crystal is a relatively easy repair that can be done by a skilled watchmaker. While some collectors argue that replacing the crystal will devalue the timepiece, the truth is that you will need to replace it. 

The first step is to remove the old crystal without damaging the watch case. Then, the watchmaker must measure the size and shape of the crystal and select the correct and original crystal for the watch. The new original crystal must fit snugly in the case and be the correct thickness. The watchmaker can then install the new crystal and ensure that it is securely in place.

Water-Resistant Gaskets

Vintage watches designed to be water-resistant can develop problems with their gaskets over time. The gaskets can dry out, become brittle, or shrink, allowing water to enter the watch case. This can damage the movement and other components of the watch. Whether you have a compromised gasket or not, it’s always recommended to have them replaced.

To repair this issue, the old gaskets must be removed and replaced with new ones. The new gaskets must be made from the same material and size as the original ones. However, if your watch is still fitted with a lead gasket, replacing it with a rubber gasket would be better to ensure that the watch remains water-resistant.

Always consult a professional watchmaker who can guarantee the watch’s water resistance after the repair.

Hands and Dial

The hands and dials of a vintage watch can become discolored or damaged over time, affecting its appearance. But regardless of whether or not you want to replace the hands and dials of your vintage watch, experts agree that keeping the original maintains the watch’s authenticity and value.

However, a skilled watchmaker can use various techniques if you decide to make changes. For example, the hands can be cleaned and relumed to make them glow in the dark. The dials can be restored to their original color by carefully removing any discoloration or damage. It is vital to preserve as much of the original material as possible to maintain the watch’s value.

Movement Parts

The movement is at the heart of a vintage watch and is responsible for keeping accurate time. However, the movement can suffer from wear, damage, or old lubrication. This can cause the watch to lose time or stop working altogether. They must always be replaced to ensure your watch performs as intended.

Repairing the movement of a vintage watch requires expertise and precision. The watchmaker will disassemble the movement, clean it, and replace any worn or damaged parts. The movement must then be reassembled, lubricated, and adjusted for accuracy.

Bezel, Crown, and Pushers

The condition of its bezel can greatly influence the value of a vintage watch. Collectors appreciate original GMT, dive, or tachymeter bezels. It is best to maintain the original bezel as much as possible, just like the hands and dial, as some vintage watches may lose their worth to collectors if their original bezels do not accompany them.

The crown and chronograph pushers are also essential components that collectors prefer to be original.
However, if these parts are significantly damaged, they need to be carefully evaluated. Similar to the crystal, these components play a major role in maintaining the watch’s integrity. If you decide to keep the original parts, replacing the gaskets in these components is best to ensure the watch remains as sealed as possible. Ask the watchmaker to return the old details to you for safekeeping.

So, To Repair or Not To Repair?

Ultimately, the decision is still yours. If you have your heart set on upgrading your vintage watch with new features, then it’s probably worth it. But it’s important to understand that doing so may decrease the value of your watch, depending on the extent of the upgrade.

Another significant consideration is the watchmaker. Whether you go to the original manufacturer or an independent repairer, make sure that they understand the whole restoration process and are willing to accommodate your wishes to repair the watch. Don’t be pressured to make all the changes they recommend, and always ask for the “why” of each recommendation.

Village Jewelers Can Handle Your Vintage Watch Repair in Frisco

If you’re considering repairing your vintage watch in Frisco, TX, we’d be happy to help you decide. Each timepiece has a story to tell, so we always consult with you first and make the necessary adjustments that won’t fully compromise your prized possession. Visit our shop or contact us through our website for your concerns and questions.