Ever wondered how much your watch is worth? Or how much is normal for that exquisite watch you have your eyes on? Whether it is an heirloom piece or a new second hand, to make an estimate of a watch’s value, the model, general condition of the watch and specific criteria such as the availability of its certificate and original presentation case must all be taken into account.

Compare realized auction prices:

Most accurate way to get an understanding of how much a watch is worth is to search a price database, such as Mearto. Make sure you narrow it down to make, model, year, condition and possibly materials when you are searching auction history. Let’s say you have a Patek Philippe Aquanaut, it is important to search the full phrase and then find the examples that look most like your watch. Let’s have a look at the categories that play a role in watch valuations.

Are you looking to buy a watch or see what they are sold for right now – check this page

Pre-owned vintage watches

Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph wrist watch, 41 mm, original parts, certificate, original box, unused. Sold online for € 2,034 on Bukowskis.
Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph wrist watch, 41 mm, original parts, certificate, original box, unused. Sold online for € 2,034 on Bukowskis.

Brand and Model

Each brand such as Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Ebel, Tag Heuer has a distinctive financial rate based on its features and market worth. Within each brand, different models also differ in value, i.e. with Rolex, a Yachtmaster or Submariner, has specific features which define its price.

Age

For many brands and models, newer watches might have higher estimated value while certain brands and models such as Patek Philippe, antique watches have significant value and collector demand.

Original Box and Certificate:

Naturally, luxury watches achieve higher values if they are presented in the original box, accompanied with the original certificate.

Condition:

Condition is the most important part of evaluating the value a watch, similar to valuing a car. How well it works, all the scratches and whether it has the original parts plays key role, as well as the service history of the watch. Below you can find the generally accepted grades of this category.

Condition 1 (Mint):

  • Perfect with no signs of wear
  • Accompanied by all of its original boxes and paperwork
  • A condition “1” movement keeps time within 30 seconds a day when fully wound (5 seconds for a quartz movement). All functions work properly. Movement has been serviced within the previous 5 years or is less than 5 years old.

Condition 2 (Excellent):

  • Shows very light signs of wear.
  • Faint scratches on the case, bezel, bracelet or buckle are visible under low power magnification. They MAY be visible to the naked eye.
  • Strap can show light use, it may be bent or lightly creased, not stained, holes slightly elongated.
  • Bracelet may be resized.
  • A condition “2” movement keeps time within 30 seconds a day when fully wound (5 seconds for a quartz movement). All functions work properly. Movement has not been serviced within the previous 5 years or it is unknown when the last service has been completed.
ulysse-nardin
Ulysse Nardin Split-Second Chronograph Wristwatch with register reference 446-22 no: 18, c. 1995. Sold for € 6,962 at Sotheby’s

Condition 3 (Good):

  • Shows what might be considered normal wear by someone who wore the watch regularly.
  • Scratches on the case, bezel, bracelet or buckle are visible to the naked eye.
  • Nicks and dings may be present but the watch still looks nice.
  • A few moderate depth scratches may be present. These scratches won’t completely come out but should end up being a condition “2” after light polishing or brushing.
  • Straps show wear but are still usable. Holes elongated, strap bent or creased.
  • Bracelet may be resized.
  • A condition “3” movement keeps time within 60 seconds a day when fully wound (30 seconds for a quartz movement). All functions work properly. Movement has not been serviced within the previous 5 years or it is unknown when the last service has been completed. It is not broken but regulation or service would make it keep better time.

Condition 4 (Fair):

  • Shows what would be considered heavy wear by someone who wore the watch regularly and often knocked and scratched it.
  • Scratches on the case, bezel, bracelet or buckle are deep are easily visible to the naked eye.
  • Many nicks and dings are present.
  • Deep scratches are present. These scratches won’t come out but should end up being a condition “3” after light polishing or brushing.
  • Straps show significant wear. May be usable but would be better replaced.
  • Bracelet shows significant wear and may be resized but it is usable.
  • A condition “4” movement is running but does not keep good time. Functions may or may not work properly. Movement has not been serviced within the previous 5 years or it is unknown when the last service has been completed. Service and repair needed.

Condition 5 (Poor):

  • In very bad condition
  • Only useful for parts
    Note: Auction houses rarely accept condition 4 or 5 watches.

Combination Condition Grades (e.g.: 2/3, 3/4)
Often there may be a combination grade necessary.
For example:

  • 2/3 could be used to indicate that the watch is in excellent condition with one small fault (scratch, dent).
  • 2/4 for a bracelet could be used to indicate that the majority of the bracelet is in excellent condition but the clasp has deep scratches and nicks. This is commonly seen upon initial inspection of a pre-owned watch that was regularly worn.

If you want to sell your watch – you can get free watch appraisal estimates from multiple auction houses here

Are you looking to buy a watch – check this page.

Pre-owned vintage watches

Sources:
Sotheby’s Watches
Antiquorum

Pictures courtesy of Sotheby’s and Bukowskis.