Advice needed from Vintage collectors

 By: CL : July 16th, 2019-07:47
Hi Everyone... I'm heeding some advise from vintage collectors.

I would like to know what is a yes or no for a vintage piece.

1) Original dial from the manufacture (Vacheron) but clean by their restoration team.

2) Hands and crown being changed by the restoration team but true to history.

3) Movements parts and bridge being restored.

4) Certificate of Authenticity and two years warranty from factory.

Are all these considered acceptable by vintage collector? Do you expect all parts to be 100% original from the same era, for example 1947?


I'm no vintage collector, but personally, I'd be fine with everything you listed *except for* the new hands and, most critically, the cleaned dial.

 By: FabR : July 16th, 2019-08:21
However, this is just me. While a new dial, even by VC itself, would be a huge no-no almost "objectively", I can understand that some collectors might be OK with a lightly cleaned dial on a 70+ year-old watch, if this is what you are implying about this piece.

New factory crown and parts 3) and 4) are entirely a nonissue in my opinion. 

But most of all, purchase it and enjoy it if you like it! smile

Good points.

 By: CL : July 16th, 2019-08:32
They said dial is cleaned but not refinish or redial. Not sure what that means. Are you saying that cleaning the dial is a no too or you are referring to changing new dial?
As for hands, they are referring to second hands. Does that make a difference?

The second hand alone sounds like more of a minor issue, while a "cleaned" dial would remain -- to me personally -- the bigger concern. (Of course a new dial, factory or otherwise, would have just killed the deal.)

 By: FabR : July 16th, 2019-08:54
So given what I understand, I'd probably not go for this watch. But again, my point is also that this issue ultimately comes down to a matter of taste, and my view here is certainly at a very "pure" end of the spectrum.
Please make your independent decision, and just take my opinion as that of someone who's so far only bought new from ADs starting in 2005 ;-) Cheers.

Thank you for your comment.

 By: CL : July 16th, 2019-09:33
It is well appreciated. If I do purchase , I will share the process here.

For me the movement parts are OK as that is just needed to maintain the mechanism, I would be OK with the dial if its cleaned sympathetically which is better than replacing and 100 x

 By: templetowers : July 16th, 2019-12:46
better than a re-dial which would be a deal breaker for me. For me the main issue with hands is if they have original lume , if they don't then I would be less bothered. (Manufacturers normally replace older tritium lume with super luminova which never has the same patina.)

Thanks for your comments...

 By: CL : July 16th, 2019-12:54
They are very useful and I will sure ask these details before making the final decision. I'm currently checking on 3-4 of the watches and will update here when I get the response from them.


 By: PPJames : July 17th, 2019-04:44
I have many Pateks that have gone back to Geneva for restoration.  Not only is the movement serviced, but the dial has been restored back to original condition.  Most all collectors think this is sacrilegious.  

My decision to restore a watch, really begins with the condition of the watch prior to restoration.  The movement has significant issues, the case also has problems (bent lugs, deep scratches...) and the dial has been significantly compromised.  I'm not talking about an even beautiful patina, but an ugly stained dial with diminished value.  The hand and marker may be incorrect and usually pitted and discolored.

These are watches "collectors" pass on.  I see the potential of what it could be and go from there.

I would have no problem with anything you listed, as long as the work was completed by VC.

Good luck and make sure you post photos!

Thank you for your sharing...

 By: CL : July 17th, 2019-06:08
Greatly appreciated.

So, I gather that restoration of the movement is okay as long the bridge is original and only decorative fixing / rhodium plating was done.

As for the dial side, the best is nothing was touched and if it was cleaned, I should ask to what level. Hands and crown replacement should be pretty normal, so it should be okay.

I will update more as I proceed. Thank you.

There are many differing opinions - you can see them visually in the posts of Nicolas and Art

 By: cazalea : July 17th, 2019-07:17
Personally, I don't like dials that are too stained or rough. And I worry about lume falling out of the hands or debris from the dial getting into the movement. 
So this one wouldn't catch my eye. But from Art's description it's rare, desirable, and having been recently / thoroughly serviced it fits his collection.

For comparison here's one of my favorite vintage watches which is showing some patina but not a distressing amount (to me).

I have a Patek which is in rough shape which I am considering having redone - it has the right movement and runs well but one of the markers at 12 was replaced with an incorrect piece which irks me. Now, would I rather it look pristine (like new) or just patina but with the correct bits? I think the latter but I could live with pristine too.


This Seamaster of yours with this " soleillé " dial is top! [nt]

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2019-08:00
No message body

Thanks for sharing :-)

 By: CL : July 17th, 2019-09:07
I do like patina on the dial but prefer the movement and case to be as 'pristine' as possible.

The watch I'm considering is from VC Collectionnure series, so they have the advanatge of getting everything correct. They tend to keep the original dial but they will clean it. I'm not sure what they mean by cleaning which I have to ask further. I'm still waiting fro them to send me high res photo which i will post on the VC forum.

This is one point which is likely to spark debate

 By: : July 17th, 2019-07:31
However every collector has some tolerance as to how much can be “ cleaned “ replaced or changed

Be aware that if you want to sell every dealer will use these points against your watch value This may ir may not be relevant

I personally prefer non cleaned dialled ( although I have few that have been )

Case should be minimally polished so gold marks can still be seen

Interestingly the movement worries people least of all as long as the correct parts are used

It’s a mine field out there
I have bought pieces that have a condition report saying everything is original but on closer inspection - maybe not

It all comes down to personal preference


Hi Julian...

 By: CL : July 17th, 2019-09:10
The watch I'm considering is from VC Collectionnure series. They said the watch dial is original, not replaced but cleaned. Second hand and crown are replaced with new. Bridge decoration are renewed. Do you understand what does cleaning mean?

It depends on your intentions...

 By: rdenney : July 17th, 2019-08:12
Do you intend to keep and wear the watch? Is it an affordable surrogate for a new watch? Or is its value as a collectible important to you?

I have a 1946 JLC ref. 2953 that came to me with no seconds hand. In that case, it’s a no-brainer. But I was fortunate to find an actual JLC blued steel hand of the correct size, still in its JLC paper part bag.

If the dial is unusable and you want to wear the watch, then it has to be restored. But I see many who restore a dial just because it does not look new. I want a vintage watch to proudly show its history—that’s part of the story of the watch. Otherwise, it’s no more than an affordable surrogate for a new watch, which is fine, but that’s a decision that should be made with clear purpose.

But factory restoration services usually seek to make it look new. I suspect they think it will otherwise look ratty and tarnish (so to speak) their image. I don’t know about VC, but I’ve heard stories about some companies insisting on it.


Rick, I would love to see your 2953!!! [nt]

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2019-08:15
No message body

And I would love to show it.

 By: rdenney : July 17th, 2019-08:40
But the app won’t show the pictures I’m uploading.


Ok. From your cell phone or your computer? Here, from my computer, everything works. [nt]

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2019-08:54
No message body

iPhone—I’ve added it to the iOS bug list for Bill [nt]

 By: rdenney : July 17th, 2019-09:36
No message body

Thanks, Rick. We'll forward. [nt]

 By: amanico : July 17th, 2019-09:37
No message body

Unfortunately it is not a 'cheap' watch...

 By: CL : July 17th, 2019-09:13
It is around $40-$50k. I will not get a restored dial. I'm curious what it means by the dial has been cleaned. So far, all the collectionnure series from VC tend to look very minty. I don't know how they do it. Probably a new coat of varnish on the dial.

I think not

 By: cazalea : July 17th, 2019-10:08
“Varnish” is not a common thing on dials that I’ve inspected.

I have many dozens of dials from the Thirties onwards, remnants from the watch repair shop I bought from a friend. Most are NOS but others used. Very few are badly damaged even though they’ve been laying around in a drawer.

What damages dials? Moisture, oil, deteriorated lume, fingers, tools, dropping them, etc.

The only cleaning I was allowed to do during my apprenticeship was blowing off dust with a small bulb blower, light brushing with a special dial brush, or cleaning shiny parts with Rodico (watchmaker putty). Not more. No moisture, no chemicals, no touching.

That said, there are companies (such as the original manufacturer) that can repaint or repair dials - and this is worth consideration if the watch’s value is primarily sentimental rather collectible.

From VC itself — I personally would not worry. Their manufacture and skilled staff are awesome.

That’s my 2¢ anyway.


PS -

Hi Mike...

 By: CL : July 17th, 2019-11:38
When you said for VC, you are not worried. Do you mean you will allow them to do more invasive cleaning? Or should I as them clearly if they have done any invasive cleaning?
Thank you for sharing your experience.