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Tips for Buying Antique Watches in London

May 7, 2013

Unfortunately there isn’t one compact area of London with a high concentration of specialist vintage watch shops, as there is with jewellery in Hatton Garden. However, that doesn’t mean that genuine antique watches in London are difficult to find. If you take the time to look both online and offline, there are a large number of specialist shops where you can buy antique watches in London. Here are a few tips to help you make a good choice.

Choose vintage watch experts

Rolex Milgauss 6543

Rolex Milgauss 6543

There are many general vintage stores and markets selling antique watches in London. These do a fantastic trade in furniture and jewellery, but aren’t necessarily the best places to buy a genuine antique watch. Of course you might get lucky, but you are more likely to get an authentic and well maintained watch from a vintage watch expert.

Look for a specialist in your brand

Do you have a favourite brand or era when it comes to antique watches? London is sure to have a watch expert that specialises in your particular make or decade.  For example if you’d really like a Rolex then make sure you find an expert that is Rolex accredited so they will be able to service your watch in the future and access genuine Rolex replacement parts.

Don’t be fooled by an address

Just because a store is located on Bond Street or Regent Street that doesn’t mean its watches are more authentic, or in better condition than a smaller workshop in a less celebrated part of the capital. Of course it might be more fun to shop for antique watches in London’s famous locations but you might find that the prices will be a little higher than is absolutely necessary.

Check the watch’s service history                                                            

You’d worry about buying a car without a service history and an antique watch is no different. Of course if you’re buying a vintage watch it might not come with a record of every service or repair it has ever had, but there should certainly be details of any work that has been done in recent years, particularly if it has been completely restored. A reputable watch specialist should be happy to talk you through the repairs or restoration.

Rolex GMT 6542

Rolex GMT 6542

Look for professional registration

Professional registration can give you confidence when you’re buying antique watches. London has plenty of online and offline business directories where vintage watch experts are listed along with their registration or accreditation details. The British Horological Institute has a professional register for watch specialists and repairers in London and the whole of the UK, so this can be a good place to start.

Many specialist watch shops will sell products online, which is a possible option if you live far away.  However most people like to visit the physical store when they’re shopping for antique watches. London is easily accessible by public transport so shortlist a handful of possible vintage watch specialists and visit them all in person. You’ll quickly get a feel for the type of service they offer as well as the stock that they hold.

Graham Simmonds, Rolex Accredited, Superlative Time – London

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