How much is my pocket watch worth?
Deciding where to sell pocket watches may be difficult if you don’t know all that much about the world of horology. There are many options to consider, from selling privately to going to auction, but it may not always be worth the trouble.
The true value of a pocket watch depends on a few factors. Age, rarity and brand will all affect the sale price. Chiefly, the brand name will represent most of the watch’s value – good pocket watch brands can sell for several thousand pounds. We’re here to help you get a better picture of pocket watch values.
What are good pocket watch brands?
While pocket watches may not sell for as much as other antiques, in some cases you can really make a pretty penny. (Confused about the difference between antique and vintage watches? Read our guide here.) The best pocket watch brands are the old classics, such as:
- Waltham – Waltham were established in 1850 and are well-known for their innovative techniques in mass pocket watch production. Their most famous timepiece is the Waltham Traveller.
- Tissot – Established in 1853, Tissot are known for affordable Swiss-made watches. They are firm favourites amongst collectors.
- Smiths – Known for their S. Smith signature on the dial, Smiths were founded in 1851, and primarily specialised in military and pocket watches.
- Omega – Swiss-made Omega watches were founded in 1848 and can fetch significant sums.
- Longines – Founded in Switzerland in 1832, Longines are known for their winged hourglass logo – the oldest registered trademark still active today.
- Rolex – Established as Wilsdorf and Davis in 1905, the brand became Rolex in 1908. In 2018, Rolex was ranked Forbes’ 71st most valuable brand.
- Ebel – Ebel was founded in 1911 in Switzerland. Today, Ebel watches are fairly rare, with one of their most famous gifted by Elvis Presley to a gospel singer mentor in 1974.
- Tudor – Tudor were registered in 1926 by Hans Wildorf, the same man who founded the Rolex SA brand.
How much are old pocket watches worth?
Older pocket watches tend to be more valuable than their modern counterparts. When they were first introduced, they were often handmade with gold or silver, and inlaid with precious gemstones.
Later on, stainless steel became more readily available. This led to pocket watches becoming more mainstream and affordable for the working classes. As such, many stainless steel pocket watches have a relatively low value today.
The most valuable pocket watches are Swiss brands, which hold their value well. For example, Ebel watches are rarely valued lower than £500, while a Waltham watch could be worth up to £1,000.
What pocket watch do I have?
Pocket watches can be categorised by watch face, as well as type. It’s important to understand which category your watch falls into to get the best selling price.
Open-faced watches, otherwise known as Lepine, come without a cover to protect the crystal. After 1908, it became compulsory for railroad service watches to be open-faced.
These pocket watches feature a case with a spring-hinged circular metal cover. They were popular amongst fox hunters.
Pocket watches by type
Broadly speaking, the four most popular types of pocket watch are:
- Pocket watches for “wealthy classes”, often made of gold or silver and featuring precious stones such as diamonds
- Stainless steel watches, available in the mainstream and largely not very valuable, unless they have a historical inscription
- Branded pocket watches, which hold their value, sometimes just for the inner parts alone
- Specialist pocket watches, such as railroad or military watches
Other qualities to watch out for
Pocket watches can also be categorised by watch movements, for example key-wind and key-set, stem-wind and stem-set, or stem-wind and lever-set/pin-set.
Where to sell antique pocket watches
By their nature, pocket watches do not fetch as much at auction as other vintage or antique items. As such, it’s unlikely you’ll make a lot of money selling privately on a site like eBay. The best way to make money privately is by selling a group of pocket watches instead.
Be wary that antique pocket watches – anything over 100 years old – are not necessarily valuable. If you’re selling at auction, the fees may not be worth the final sale price. However, if you’re confident your antique pocket watch is valuable, ask for a valuation first. You could even use this information to sell to a collector privately.
Who buys old pocket watches?
The best way to sell old pocket watches is through us at Vintage Cash Cow. We’ll buy old pocket watches at no cost to you, regardless of the condition. That’s no selling fees and no valuation fees!
We’ll even cover your postage. Simply request a welcome pack and use the enclosed Freepost stickers to post your items to us – fully insured.
Can I sell broken pocket watches?
Broken pocket watches are harder to sell, but not impossible. If yours is branded, a collector may be interested in buying it for parts. If it’s not branded, it may be more economical to sell a group of pocket watches to offset the fees.
Remember, we’ll buy your pocket watch whatever the condition. If it’s stopped and you don’t know why, missing pieces or has been damaged in some way, we still want to see it!
What to look for when buying a pocket watch
If you’re buying to sell, you should look for Swiss-made, branded watches. These may become more valuable over time, so make sure you have regular valuations when selling. Ensure you do your research on the watch itself by, for example, looking up the serial number.
Where to buy a pocket watch
If you’re researching where to buy antique pocket watches, it’s best to look for specialised auctions. For watches with lesser value, contact private sellers. Always check that they’re reputable by testing their knowledge on watches, and looking at their previous customer history.
Understanding pocket watch serial numbers
A serial number is not only a mark of authenticity, it can also indicate how many of that particular watch were made. This may help you to value your watch, but don’t dismiss it if it doesn’t have one. The Pocket Watch Database is a great place to search for serial numbers, and lets you search by brand.
Selling a pocket watch has never been easier than with Vintage Cash Cow. We offer great prices, no fees -unlike auctions or some private sellers – and expert valuations. Contact the team today.
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