Pocket Watch Values have kept going up recently, here's why...
In order to appraise your own watch first you need to know what you have. I can see some people's eyes rolling in their head, please bear with me! You see the next most common question I get is "What make of pocket watch do I have?" I then generally get a poor description and if I'm lucky a serial number from which to deduce the make and model of watch, which usually I can't.
So I would recommend spending some time and a little money, and buy a good quality book that hopefully lists your watch. I have already written a page on pocket watch books so take a look there and go out and buy one. Better still look up the eBay pocket watch books page and you will probably find a book much cheaper than in a book shop. If you are still unsure about which one you should buy, I will suggest one that no antique pocket watch or watch collector should be without - The Complete Price Guide to Watches By Cooksey Shugart, Tom Engle & Richard E Gilbert - an excellent guide to pocket watch values.
Just like any collectible antique, one of the most important elements that contributes to its value is the condition. Pocket Watches are no different and thankfully easier than my other hobby of antique bank note collecting. Trust me, appraising banknote condition is hard! So whether you own a watch that you need to appraise or you are thinking of placing a bid on one at eBay, you should do everything you can to find out exactly what condition it is in. To do that you ask lots of questions - either to yourself or to the seller.
Some of the questions you need to ask that determin pocket watch values can be summed up in a description of Pocket Watch conditions. Below are descriptions of the condition of a pocket watch, regardless of age. This may seem a contradiction in that you may expect every 'old' watch to exhibit some signs of it's age. However, in some cases you may come across what's called "new old stock" which will be explained below.
New - These watches will be as you might expect, fresh from the factory, shiny, mechanically perfect with a warranty. They will be boxed with papers proving authenticity. These will be modern watches, many will be quartz but many are also all mechanical wind-up watches.
New (Old Stock) - Occasionally someone finds a line of old pocket watches that have never seen the light of day. They are effectively in brand new condition, yet they may be many tens or even a hundred or more years old. Of course, these are rare finds but the watches themselves may not necessarily be worth a considerable amount more than their used counterparts.
Mint - Usually this describes watches that have been bought by a collector and stored for years without use. Whether they have been used or not, they should not show any signs of wear whatsoever. Cases should be unblemished, hinges working perfectly, dial without any signs of dust or dirt ingress. They should also come with any and all paperwork that would normally have come with the watch at point of sale.
Near Mint - In similar condition as above, except cases may show very shallow marks and scratches. These may be as a result of over-enthusiastic cleaning, for example, using too harsh an abrasive. This will include watches that have been extensively restored.
Excellent - To the naked eye, the watch will only show small marks and scratches on the case. There may be a small amount of dust on the dial, the glass (crystal) may have very small marks on it, but hardly noticeable. the watch should work and run without any faults present.
Very Good - General marks and small dents may be visible on the watch case. The crystal and dial may also show slight ageing or fading and there may be a small amount of dust visible on the dial. The watch may have been subject of minor repairs, however these should not detract from the originality of the watch. The watch would be upgraded with additional work.
Good - Obvious signs of wear and general use, however scratches and dents on the case are easily seen but not excessive. The dial shows signs of age with some marking evident. Some brassing of the case would also be seen.
Fair - Showing scratches and larger dents in the case as well as being severely brassed. Marks and scratches on dial, crystal in worn condition with obvious scratching. May be problems with winding or setting of the watch indicating a service is necessary. Mechanically the watch should still function, although accuracy may not be good.
Poor - A generally abused piece that would probably be used as spare parts.
The best way to check current pocket watch values is to check what pocket watches are selling for today. The best place to do that is by checking out pocket watch sales on eBay. Click Here - to visit the eBay auction index
Having ascertained what sort of condition your watch, or future purchase, is in, you can then use the The Complete Price Guide to Watches to put a rough value on your watch. I say rough value because antique pocket watch values are not something that are static at all. Over the past few years values have risen substantially, even through the recent recession.
As always, a good quality pocket watch will always be a sought after item, so go ahead, now you know pocket watch values, start your collection today!
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