Tim Bourne Of Bonhams Shares 5 Tips For Collecting Vintage Watches

Watches & Jewellery

February 9, 2018 | BY Hong Kong Tatler

With almost 30 years of experience in the watch auction industry, Tim Bourne knows a thing or two about what makes a quality timepiece. In 1997, he was one of the first to bring watch auctions to Asia and just recently, he's taken on the role of International Director of Watches, Asia at Bonhams.

In light of his new position, we sat down with Bourne to find out what collectors should look for when it comes to vintage watches:

A rare Patek Philippe 18K rose gold water resistant chronograph wristwatch with original guarantee certificate and box (Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams)

Old doesn’t always mean expensive

"Collectors immediately think that because a watch has age and is considered as vintage, that it has considerable value. Sadly, that is not the case," Bourne explains. "For a vintage watch to have collectability and value, it will need to possess a respected brand name. Most importantly, it needs to be totally original, and the condition must be at least an eight out of ten."

Tim Bourne Of Bonhams Shares 5 Tips For Collecting Vintage Watches
A Vacheron Constantin 6526 split second minute repeating pocket watch made in 1964 (Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams)

What to look for

"Stick to the most important word—quality. Quality of brand, quality of design, quality of manufacturing and production," Bourne stresses, adding that "rarity obviously helps as well and if the provenance is great that will also be a tremendous boost to the watches value."

See also: Time Travel Is Here Thanks To Vacheron Constantin's Overseas Dual Time Watch

A rare Rolex military issue stainless steel automatic wristwatch circa 1972 (Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams)

Research goes a long way

"Do your homework and research first. Choose the brand and look for watches in exceptional condition. With vintage watches being mechanical, over time various parts will have become worn and therefore it is crucial to make sure that everything can be as original as possible."

Tim Bourne Of Bonhams Shares 5 Tips For Collecting Vintage Watches
A lady's Rolex 18K gold diamond set automatic calendar bracelet watch circa 1988 (Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams)

Make it uniquely yours

"Passionate collectors must buy pieces that they are drawn to and that reflects their personality and character. That is vital," Bourne explains. "The collection then will be one of great interest to all who can share it. If the collector has been fortunate to make it financially interesting and worthwhile then that is a wonderful bonus."

A rare Longines 18K gold manual wind single button chronograph wristwatch circa 1924 (Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams)

Why vintage watches are worth it

"Not only are the designs timeless and classic, but the proportions, balance and overall artistic impact are beautifully pleasing to the eye," says Bourne. "Often, the likelihood of someone else having the same watch will be remote, especially when each example of a certain model will differ slightly in appearance to that of another, due to the varying colours and patination of the ageing process."

See also: 6 Perfect Watches For Every Occasion

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