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Do Old Watches Need More Love? Vintage Watch Care Tips From The Experts

May 12, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


The protocol for maintaining any Rolex is to have it serviced by a professional.  New watches don’t need any further care. Timepieces over seven years should be taken in for a complete service, and vintage watches should only be serviced if they are operating poorly.  As with anything that ages, vintage Rolex watches will wear down over time and may need to be serviced by a professional to maintain a precise reading. However, if done incorrectly, it could have a negative impact on the long-term value of your watch.  In fact, some collectors recommend servicing your vintage Rolex as a little as possible to preserve its value. So how exactly should you care for your vintage timepiece? Below are a few vintage watch care tips to get you started.

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Practical Vintage Watch Care Tips

While it may seem like a good idea to send your vintage watch back to Rolex to be serviced, most collectors would advise against doing so.  Not only will Rolex replace any damaged or worn out parts, such as the dial, bezel, or crown with new components, but they will also polish the case and bracelet if needed, removing any scratches and characteristics that made your vintage Rolex unique.  Watches that have gone through this process tend to lose their value in the vintage market when compared to timepieces that still offer their original parts. Another option to consider is sending your Rolex to a private shop that has experience refurbishing vintage watches.

Even though it’s frowned upon to replace any original parts, there are a few that may need to be replaced to maintain the integrity of the entire watch.  For example, replacing the crown may be the difference between protecting the case and seriously damaging the movement within. The same goes with the crystal.  While older watches show immense character on the crystal with each scratch, if the crystal cracks then the dial and hands may become subject to water damage. Avid vintage collectors will tell you that it’s next to impossible to replace these parts on a vintage watch, so you’re better off replacing the crystal if it cracks or breaks.  Most vintage Rolex watches are topped with an acrylic crystal, which is very easily scratched and may need to be polished pretty regularly if you choose to polish it. If your vintage watch isn’t considered a particularly rare reference, then it may be ok to replace or polish these parts. It’s up to the discretion of the owner.

these vintage watch care tips can help you maintain the value of your investment

Another factor to consider while caring for your vintage watch is waterproofness.  Rolex is known for its innovative Oyster case, which is waterproof up to 330 feet in most cases.  In fact, the ability to wear a Rolex throughout the day without damaging the dial or movement is one of Rolex’s biggest selling points. While most vintage references are accompanied by an Oyster case, over time, they may lose their waterproofness.  The older the watch, the harder it will be to find replacement parts, so it may be pretty tough to repair a vintage watch that is no longer resistant to water damage. The gaskets in the crown may also require regular maintenance to preserve whatever waterproofness may be left in the watch.  In general, we recommend avoiding getting your vintage Rolex wet altogether if you wish to keep it in excellent condition.

Whether you wish to purchase a vintage watch as an investment piece or as a collector’s item, chances are you want to maintain its value.  The vintage watch care tips above are a great step in the right direction towards ensuring that your Rolex holds its value well.




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