Antique Military Watches

Antique, Swiss Military, and Pre-owned Watches, What are the characteristics that make an Antique Watch? And is there a difference between Antique or Vintage?

What seems like a simple question about the physical attributes of the item turns out to be more about a point of view or a matter of subjectivity over fact. Technically a Vintage Watch is a watch of over 20 years old, neither the condition, paperwork or original packaging is important and at this point, and it may or may not be an Antique watch, it’s really just another way of describing a pre-owned or used watch. Human subjectivity kicks in now and we need to look at what makes people want to own a pre-owned watch.

If we consider that all watches over 20 years old are vintage this does not necessary mean all these watches are desirable, far from it. No, what makes a watch desirable is something else that lies in the eyes of the beholder, it could be a military watch from a campaign a close relative lived through or died in, or it could be a watch that’s been owned by a celebrity, or perhaps it’s the first or last of its kind. But the one common denominator holding all these items together is a personal desirability, and when all these things come together we have ourselves an Antique rather that simply a vintage or used watch for sale.

Military Watch

This may seem somewhat grand but it’s no less true that military watches have become a mark of pedigree derived from military issue and history of trusted watches that became part of the story to liberated the free world, and the continuing work to produce the most accurate, reliable and durable timepiece to survive in extreme environments.

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It’s been said before and it still rings true that a vintage military watch is a piece of history on your wrist. For general enthusiasts to those who served or those who lost loved ones through service, the appeal of the perfect military timepiece has a powerful lore.

For collectors and watch enthusiasts military watches used by the armed forces have a special place in the grand scheme of things. Different military watches were used by different branches of the armed forces, like the naval pieces and chronometers that were used in aviation, especially during the Second World War. To someone with naval connections from the second world war owning one of these would be something to fill them with pride in have a connection to the history and owning an extraordinary precision-centered military watches.

But where to start with this after all how many watches were worn by those in conflict? In truth there are many watches have been categorized as technological heritage, conserved and restored. You may or may not be surprised to learn that these military watches have been auctioned in well-known venues like Christies and Sotheby’s and usually go for large sums especially if they have been refurbished.

Rare Rolex WWII Gold Watch


Conserving the watches

The refurbishment, however, is slightly different from the conservation of the military watch. When a watch is conserved it’s being preserved in its original state where nothing is changed and the original look and functions are treated without vandalizing the parts in the process. Care must be taken with the dials rather refinishing them as they should be part of the conservation process, they should only ever be stabilizing by adding a layer of lacquer to protect the dials.

Restoring the watches

Restoration is not the same as conservation, it can not be reversed and as returning the timepiece to its original state depends on the person carrying out the restoration the process is quite controversial. In this process the worn parts are removed, rust is treated, faded dials are replaced, crystals are renewed in addition to the seals and cases in some cases.

Refurbishing the watches

To the purest, this is the most controversial of all the processes involving the complete refit of the watch. it will be re-polished, the face and dials refinished making it like new so it will be difficult to recognize it from the original piece once finished. So before buying a vintage or antique military watch it’s important to know how it’s been treated, so you can judge for yourself if this piece is still the genuine article or a rebuild.

Swiss Military Watches

The Swiss military watch has become a trusted brand with a great number loyal customers. This is partly due to the inherent trust in the reliability and accuracy in a Swiss movement, plus the look and feel of the modern design. Additionally, one should never underestimate the draw that comes with a rich history of watchmaking.

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What is the history behind Swiss Military

The Swiss military has a built in quantity just by having ‘swiss’ in its name and so highly regarded for their value and quality as well as being a name looked on as elegant and fashionable with an air of prestige. Essentially, Swiss Military have everything going for them and no obvious detractors, allowing them to reap the reward for being the first, the smallest, the thinnest, and most expensive, but also for supplying service men quality products during and after the war.

Owning the Swiss Watch

As above Swiss Military hold a captive market where prestige, fashion, and elegance go hand in hand with accuracy and precision craftsmanship. This is all held together by the financial precursor of ownership meaning you need the cash to join the club. The Swiss Military brand is seen as a high-end product and a price to confirm this means those who wear them are serious about their timekeeping and don’t want anything less than the best.

Just as before when Swiss Military supplied the services, they manage to keep their feet on the ground and you can probably find an affordable piece if you’re on a budget. Basically, cost more than their Japanese competition but with that comes a bankability in terms durability, taste and assumed status.

Rare 1930 Arbor Swiss Chrono.

Rare 1930 Arbor Swiss Chrono

European Military Watches

Another manufacturer supplying to the armed forces in Europe during WWII was Panerai

Founded in Florence, Italy in 1860 Panerai was the official supplier of watches and precision instruments to the Royal Italian Navy during the WWII, when interestingly the watches of this time were constructed using of cases designed and manufactured by Rolex SA and movements built by Swiss manufacturer Cortobert. It was these watches that played a role in assisting the divers of the Decima Flottiglia MAS in their operations during World WarII. A couple of notable products that may ring a bell include the Luminor and Radiomir wristwatches.

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Even today you can find these beautiful watches made with the finest materials that still maintain their strong connection to the past and considered quite exquisite

Pre-Owned Watches for Sale

When you buy a new car and drive it out of the showroom you loose 30% of the value the second the tires hit the black top. Your car is no longer brand new. No matter if you park it up and never use it, the now have a ‘used’ car. It’s no different when you bye a watch accept the cash involved isn’t quite so much, although if it is, then you are probably blessed with enough funding to buy a truly special watch.

The point is, there are many types of watches and different venues for buying watches and equally, the prices differ accordingly, meaning if you’re in the market for a pre-owned watch there’s something out there for you within your budget. It’s really up to you where to look, you may want to search the internet, Craig’s list, eBay, or check out your local flea markets and secondhand shops. If you are brave or experienced you may like to try the auctions?

How to go about buying online

Firstly, what are you looking for? You are looking for a brand, a complication, or just looking at a price range? Do you have a list of requirements and do you have a list of likes and needs?

Perhaps you want a particular movement or it needs to be automatic or manual, what about the material and color?

In the first instance, a good start when narrowing down the availability and rough pricing guide would be to drill down your search on eBay. Perhaps you may not want to buy through this media but it does give a good idea about general availability and hopes form ideas.

You have found a pre-own watch: now what?

Research research research the need to know as much as you can about the item. Try to understand how to confirm it is genuine and if there are any weaknesses inherent in the product that you should avoid.

Check the photos

*It’s time to inspect the photos and start asking yourself questions
*Do you see any discoloration or rust?
*Is the case or glass cracked or scratched
*What is the material? Is it plated? Does it have a hall mark
*Are any parts missing
*Can you return it if the item is not as described

Question the seller

In most cases, you can contact the manufacturer who can confirm its legitimacy using the serial number. If buying on eBay check sellers rating which should be 99% and read the feedback then ensure you have a way to get your money back should anything go wrong? If its eBay you are using you will be paying by PayPal with works will, but also pay the PayPal with a credit card for double coverage if something goes wrong or you see it’s a scam.

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Final Word

Buying an Antique watch online can be scary but just being careful will make life easier. There are many websites that deal exclusively with watches and have different sections that may include Antique watches and have a returns policy. If the site is an affiliate of a watch supplier this should not worry you as the website is only offering you the correct information and passing you over to the supplier of the item, who will take charge of payments, deliveries and any complaints you may have.

This site is an affiliate site but does not have any Antique or Vintage watches to offer but can offer a site of interest of which has no affiliation or relationship with

Remember, always make sure you are buying through an authorized dealer even if you are using an affiliate site, as it’s the only sure way to get a genuine article with the correct paperwork.

If you like this piece please share it with your friends and family, and let me know if what I am doing right. If you don’t like this piece please let me know what I’m doing wrong. Thanks for staying with me this far. Until next time bye bye.

carl scutt
carl scutt
Carl's the founder and editor of His background's in Technology and Internet Marketing. He currently lives in southern Spain. Learn more about him here, and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

About carl scutt

Carl's the founder and editor of His background's in Technology and Internet Marketing. He currently lives in southern Spain. Learn more about him here, and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

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