Finding Affordable Vintage Aviation Watches

If you made a decision to buy a vintage aviator watch – congratulations! While the decision is an excellent one, it comes with lots of research and often desire to buy more. You will also want to find out where you can buy it. There are not too many physical stores, where you could find such timepieces. Sure, there are plenty of online collectors and specialists that can sell you one, but you pay significant money for the assurance they can provide. Online retailers charge an arm and a leg for their watches. There are vintage watch forums that have sales corners, but you have to be established member and know a thing or two about not just watches, but sellers too. This can also be risky as there is no established feedback on sellers, so it’s not hard to get tricked.

This being said, the best place for novice vintage watch buyers is the wide eBay and its treasures. The marketplace is vast, immeasurable, where you can find anything your heart desires. This grand flea market is full of vintage watches. Type “vintage watch” and you will be flooded with about 125,000 results. That’s a lot of sifting through and choosing. Besides being a blessing, so many choices can pose a steep learning curve and lots of research.

eBay is a treasure trove and a curse both at the same time. Many veterans refer to eBay as “ePray”, so this should serve as a warning. Many sellers are not sure what they are selling, while others are there to get your money. You have to become an expert if you want to get something great.

We have been buying from eBay for years and can offer you some tips what to pay attention to. eBay doesn’t have to be scary and you can get some of your best buys here if you know what you are doing.

Originals and condition

Yes, you guested it; the most important thing about the watch you might be considering is its condition. This might be obvious, but it never hurts to think about it again. If your piece is original, but all banged up, it will carry no value for you or anybody else. You should try to get the best watch for your money and don’t settle for anything less. Vintage watch should be of original quality, unaltered by polishing, using after-market parts, repainting, or anything like that. It is virtually impossible to get such modifications reversed with new old stock parts due to limited availability of such parts. When you read the description, don’t automatically trust “excellent condition” because that is in the eye of the beholder. Your eye needs to love the watch, so only you can determine the perfect condition for you.

Once you made a first step and determined what watch you are looking for, start doing some serious research and find out everything you can about the model and specifications. You have to be well versed in it to understand the authenticity and condition of your buy. Look for examples and compare. Look everywhere: Google images, eBay, forums, old watch sites from years ago, and auction catalogs. Don’t stop until you have seen it all. It will take a lot of time and patience, but will definitely pay off at the end.

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Determining the condition

When you have done all your research and know what to look for, go to eBay and search for that model. Most likely a few listings will match your model number. What do you do next?

Now you have to determine if the condition works for you. The only thing you can do is carefully examine all pictures provided by the seller. If you are in luck you will have 24 professionally done pictures of every angle. If you are not in luck you will findone blurry shot from a mile away. Whichever way you find it, your task is to analyze the pictures the best you can – zoom in on them and look at everything. While such directions are obvious, some people get so excited after finding what they so desire, that they rush into buying without looking at absolutely everything. Don’t get burned if you rush into something without full due diligence. Also understand that such research process can sometimes take years. Be ready to wait armed with patience.

Most people do their eBay shopping on their phones, but don’t buy anything without opening the item and all the pictures on your computer screen, as large as possible. Small details are much better visible this way and it saves you from having to return damaged items.

Those sellers that don’t have many pictures often don’t have the one of the case back. It’s very important if you want to check for water damage. Hopefully at least one picture of the movement will be included, so examine for damage there – look for discoloration or oxidation. If you see water damage, stay away. If you have virtually no pictures, don’t be afraid to contact the seller and ask for more. If everything is OK with the watch, sellers will send you more pictures. Otherwise, take it as red flag and move on.

Read the fine print

If you looked at the pictures and didn’t find anything wrong, go to the fine print. The description is like pictures, you can have an essay or you can find one sentence. Whichever the case, you have to be able to take the information available and formulate your opinion. While detailed description is nice, stay away from the ones that sound too good and use too many grandeur poems. The little important details like “repainted dial” or “doesn’t run” can easily get lost in a dissertation-like description.

Just like with pictures, if the description is missing some vital information, write the seller and ask. Ask about little dents, discolorations or any other marks.

Finally, read the terms and conditions, such as “we don’t accept PayPal” or “charge a restocking fee” upon return. You will save yourself some disappointments if you will know the terms in advance.

Final step is the look at the seller’s profile. A good and reliable seller will be rated highly by customers and will have repeat business all the time. If that looks good, get your wallet out and pay for that dream watch of yours!