If you haven’t noticed, we really love vintage watches here at Wound For Life. Incidentally, it’s not just us; the market is blowing up all over the place – auctions are setting records, information on vintage watches is bountiful, and more and more dealers are setting up shop. We like to find our vintage watches in all sorts of places, from established dealers, all the way to random eBay finds. But today, I’d like to highlight a few up-and-coming vintage dealers working on tight margins, and bridging the gap between the big guys and the private sellers. It’s likely you’ll see their listings pop up on occasion in our weekly Market Watch(ing) series, so keep an eye out.
Based out of Milwaukee, WatchSteez is run by Justin Vrakas, a passionate watch lover and regular at Commonwealth Crew meetups. His goal is to provide a safe and easy place to buy rare-yet-affordable vintage watches. Justin has some basic watchmaking skills under his belt, which should give you a little more confidence buying that wild looking ‘70s Yema chronograph from him, rather than from eBay.
Speaking of “wild looking”, that’s probably the best part. I don’t know where he finds these watches, because some of them are downright awesome. I mentioned the Croton “Paul Newman” two weeks ago, but two of my other favorites are the military issued Bulova, and the Emperor yachting chronograph (otherwise known as “what?!?!”). The Bulova is on the small side, but it’s got military provenance, and a definite tacti-cool appearance. The Emperor is just – well, I don’t really know, but I want it. At $795 and $675, respectively, they’re both solid impulse buys. I like what I see over at WatchSteez, as it saves me countless hours scrolling through eBay looking under “vintage chronograph” search terms, and other such general phrases.
Theo & Harris
Another newcomer to the inexpensive and crazy vintage watch market is Theo & Harris. Moving from the Midwest to the East Coast, Theo & Harris is run by Christian Zeron and Caleb Anderson out of NYC. Like WatchSteez, Theo & Harris are on the lookout for great examples of vintage watches that aren’t meant to break the bank. And not ones to simply throw another hat in the ring, they’re also about giving back. A portion of the sale for every watch purchased will go to The Bowery Mission and Coalition for the Homeless, both worthy causes in our book. If nothing else, it’ll help reduce buyer’s remorse knowing someone is making a rational decision with your hard-earned dollars.
After browsing through their stock, the first thing that caught my eye was an Invicta. That’s right, I just said “Invicta”. No, I’m not crazy, this is the original Invicta, and not the ticking nightmares you can find for 80% off of MSRP. Unbelievably, Invicta was founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the mid-1800s, and before the quartz crisis sunk them, they made some cool watches. Theo & Harris happens to have a nice two-register chronograph for $645. Too bad they don’t make them like they used to, huh? Looking further, they have a lot of simple time-only and time-and-date watches that can be found for as low as $200. I like to call those, “Daniel Wellington killers.” With much of the market focusing on expensive vintage Rolex and Omega, it’s nice to see three-digit price tags get some love, especially when part of it goes to good causes.
The last dealer I’d like to highlight, Luxuwrist, works out of my neck of the woods in Boston. Run by Tom Joy, Luxuwrist is quickly becoming a fixture on the forums (under the handle bigpoppa822), providing fairly priced vintage and modern watches, with a slight lean towards Omega. Tom’s become a regular at Red Bar Boston events, and since then, we’ve become friends. He’s a great guy that focuses on finding good examples, and providing top-notch customer service. What’s more, you’re going to have a hard time finding better prices on vintage Speedmasters from a dealer. Work quickly if he has something you like, because his inventory turns over very quickly.
I chose Luxuwrist’s Soccer Timer last week in our roundup, but now I’m checking out Valjoux 7733 Clebar up for sale. I like the reverse Panda tachymeter track, as well as the subdials that look like they came off of a Speedmaster. It has nice, even patina, a clean movement, and a screw-down caseback for $790 – hard to beat. Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out the tropical Pre-Moon Speedy that just listed for $3,500. I’ve seen that one in person, and it’s quite chocolate-y. It’s not easy to find a tropical anything that doesn’t have a crazy premium attached to it. I doubt that one makes it through the week.
So, there you have it, three up-and-coming vintage dealers that add a tremendous amount of certainty to the more uncertain parts of the market. A lot of you might feel comfortable taking chances on eBay finds, and yes, you can potentially snipe a better deal there, but it’s nice to work with someone who has a reputation to uphold. Since these guys are all relatively new, their prices are set to compete against the big guys, and they work off of very tight margins – it doesn’t get much better than that for the consumer. I’ve been asking for more vintage watches, and the market is answering the call.by