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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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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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