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How much is my wrist watch worth?

Wrist watches first came into production during World War I. Meanwhile, the first-ever battery operated wrist watch was sold in the 1950s. If you inherited one, it is likely that there is a high market value on that piece. Indeed, vintage wrist watches are collectible items that are sought after according to their type of mechanism and brand. To determine if your wrist watch is worth any value, you can find out about what factors could influence its market value.

The factors that you use for valuing wrist watches are basically similar with any other antiques and collectibles. These factors are what experts appraisers look into when determining the cost of the watch in the market. It is a given that antique wrist watches will be of certain value, but in terms of how much exactly will be determined by the following factors:

  • General condition and appearance
  • Age
  • Presence of any identification
  • Age of the watch
  • Quality
  • Materials used
  • Authenticity
  • Originality (or reproduction)
  • Presence of any unique features
  • Rarity

Does the watch have any identification?

If you do not know what type of watch you have, you will never know the worth. You can take valuing a car as an example. When you sell an old car, you don’t just tell the buyer the car manufacturer. You need to let them know about the year, model of the make, type, and engine size, among other things. The same goes with antique wrist watches. If there are specific details about the wrist watch, they can influence the cost of the item on the market. These factors are crucial for determining the actual value of the watch.

What is the quality of the wrist watch?

Not all antique wrist watches are the same. Just because a watch is deemed old and antique, it does not mean that it is valuable. Some antique watches are made with the best materials while others are cheaply made. Its value is determined by the overall quality. The jewel count is one factor that will influence the quality and value of a watch. The ones with a higher jewel count are also those that would cost more. To use as guideline for evaluating quality of a watch based on jewel count, here it is:

  • Watches with 15 jewels or less is low-grade watch;
  • Watches with 15-17 jewels are fully-jeweled;
  • Watches with more than 19 jewels are considered higher-grade watches.

 Again, jewel count is just one factor in indicating quality. Other factors will include the type of material, movement finish, and the overall finish of the watch itself. Any types of decorations can also add to its value.

Does it have unique features?

Any unique feature on the wrist watch can affect its value in the market, especially in the eye of the avid watch collectors. The unique feature can include a new technological advancement that would make the watch stand out from other watches manufactured at a particular time period. Another example is a low serial number. Or, it could be a unique escapement on the watch. It also takes an experienced watch appraiser in order to assess the exact value that these unique features add to the watch.

What are the materials used for the wrist watch?

As mentioned above, the materials used for making antique wrist watches largely determine its value. Many antique watches are made with solid gold materials. Meanwhile, many new ones are gold-plated only. You have to determine to which category your watch falls into. It could be that some other material is used for making the antique wrist watch.
The high cost of gold is one factor that could make your wrist watch go up in terms of market value. Therefore, it is important to start with the materials used so you can gauge its cost. The type of materials used for the settings, train wheels, and other parts can add to its overall value.

Can you validate its authenticity?

Antique watch collectors are seeking after those that are in an all-original condition. If the watch has been preserved from its original condition by the time it was released from the factory, it will command a higher price. Meanwhile, wrist watches that had been altered or have some parts replaced will be significantly lower in value even though its overall condition is still of superior quality.

How rare is the wrist watch?

Not all antique watches are rare; hence, they are not all valuable. Some watch manufacturers produced millions of watches during their peak production days. Hence, you cannot expect them to be valued high when there are plenty of them in the market. In order to determine the value, it is important to do a research on how many of the same model of watch was made. There are some types of wrist watches that were produced in small quantities only. Finding these rare items can bring a lot of value to those items that you possess.
Not all brands keep accurate production records, though. It will be a challenge to know the exact production information of some brand.

Who made the watch?

This is a basic consideration that you should look into when trying to determine the value of a wrist watch. It is also one of the first things that an interested buyer would ask about the wrist watch. Hence, it is important that you know exactly the watch manufacturer.
This is often not as obvious as with modern wrist watches today wherein the brand name is shown on the dial. Many of the antique wrist watches will require you to open the back to see who manufactured the clock movement. It is also important to note that the manufacturer of the clock movement is not always the same as the brand of the watch itself.

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Wrist watch 10 Mar, 2021
Audemars piguet vintage ladies gold watch
Case width: 24mm The gold bezel is notched out with a fluted gold crown. The bracelet is an 18k gold textured mesh bracelet with the AP logo of Audemars Piguet on the folding clasp. Dial: A cushion shaped, champagne colored metal dial with applied elongated gold and onyx hour batons, all of equal length and the twelve of double width. There are steel baton hands and the dial is enameled Audemars\Piguet above and Swiss at the base. Movement: Self-winding, original, genuine and functioning. 20 jewel nickel plate lever movement, signed and numbered by Audemars Piguet. CONDITION: Case – Case and bracelet appear to be excellent. Dial: Pristine. Overall condition is excellent. HISTORY: It was 1875 when Jules Louis Audemars joined forces with Edward Auguste Piguet. They worked together to develop watches equipped with complex mechanisms and precision still found in the watches today. Both men were working independently on watches before combining their skills. Audemars was creating complicated blank watch movements for manufacturers to fit. Piguet was performing the final regulation on watches and was self-employed. They continued the split responsibilities when they formed the company; Audemars was in charge of production and technical aspects while Piguet focused on sales and management. In 1892, the gentlemen were working on the development of the first minute repeater wristwatch. The “Grande Complication” pocket watch was released in 1899, featuring 7 different complications. The watch featured grand and small strike and minute repeater on a set of three gongs, an alarm striking on a different set of gongs, perpetual calendar, deadbeat seconds, and chronograph with jumping seconds and split-seconds hand. When Audemars and Piguet passed away in 1918 and 1919 respectively, the company still continued to grow and become more famous. The company has always had members of both families leading them towards success, even today. These years brought about many new additions to the Audemars Piguet innovation list. In 1915, the smallest 5-minute repeater calibre was made, with a size of just 15.8mm. Only 10 years later, the company created the thinnest pocket-watch calibre at only 1.32mm. The first skeletonized pocket watch was produced in 1934, and in 1946 came the thinnest wrist watch. The first Audemars Piguet wristwatch with a perpetual calendar was introduced in 1957 and in 1967 the thinnest self-winding calibre with a central rotor was released at only 2.45mm. Royal Oak model - The first steel high-end sports watch was introduced in 1972, forever revolutionizing the brand. The watch, which still features the same design today, featured an octagonal steel bezel and white gold screws. This production helped raise steel to the rank of precious metal in regards to luxury watches. The Royal Oak was redesigned in the late 1980’s when designer Emmanuel Gueit introduced a sketch that shows a substantial watch able to handle the forces of nature. The new design was ultimately called the Royal Oak Offshore, after receiving support by the Joint Chairman of Audemars Piguet at the time. Audemars Piguet has continued on their development path and in 2000, while celebrating their 125th anniversary, their first model with Equation of time, sunrise, sunset and perpetual calendar was released. To this day, Audemars Piguet watches are still meticulously handcrafted and designed by watchmakers. Every edge is hand beveled and the sides are retouched again by hand to eliminate any trace of imperfection.
Estimate: $4,000 - $5,000

Would You Like to Sell Your wrist watch?

Mearto offers two opportunities to sell your wrist watch based on its current fair market value:

Customers with wrist watch expected to sell for $5,000 or more can take advantage of our complimentary Consignment Concierge service. We will contact leading auction houses on your behalf, collect offers and help you negotiate the terms of a consignment agreement. There is no additional fee or commission for this service.

For customers with wrist watch valued between $50 and $5,000, Mearto offers an exclusive Marketplace, which is accessed by a number of art, antiques and collectibles dealers around the world. If there is interest in your item, you will be contacted directly with offers through our platform. In the event of a successful sale, Mearto takes a 7% transaction fee.

To learn more about options for selling your wrist watch through Mearto, please click here.


Lindsey Bourret is the Managing Director at Mearto. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the business, she also enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of the fine art and antiques market with our customers through our website, blog, e-newsletter and social media accounts.

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