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Does engraving devalue an antique watch?
November 3, 2006 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Antique watch values -- I want to sell a 1914 Waltham men's wristwatch on Ebay, but it has engraving on the back of the case. Does this reduce its value?

The engraving on the back was done by my distant relative's employer (an insurance co.), since this was apparently a gift presented to him at retirement. The year 1914 is engraved as part of this dedication.

The watch runs and is in good shape otherwise. But will it garner as high a price as one without engraving? Or (be still my heart), does it add to the value?
posted by nancoix to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
 
The inscription can usually be buffed off by potential buyers depending on the material, so that wouldn't put off someone buying it for high street resale. An engraving won't always reduce the value of a watch or piece of jewellery and in certain circumstances (e.g - "trench watches" from the war) can significantly increase it. You could do some research on the insurance company to find out if it has any significance, but it doesn't sound like something that will increase the value. If you can find any military connection then exploit it.
posted by fire&wings at 9:23 AM on November 3, 2006


I don't know from watches, but I've found the ebay forums to be full of helpful, knowledgeable people. Here's the one for watches. A search on "engraving" broght up these two questions.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:25 AM on November 3, 2006


Just put it up for auction, and see if people aren't willing to bid at the starting price you set. That'd be the easiest way to see if it effects the value.
posted by chunking express at 9:46 AM on November 3, 2006


Can you turn the engraving into a positive selling point and market it that way?
posted by KAS at 10:49 AM on November 3, 2006


I agree with KAS - I think a true collector (one who is buying it in order to enjoy it, rather than try to re-sell it somewhere else) would appreciate knowing the history behind the watch and the engraving. I would include a paragraph explaining the engraving in your EBay auction.
posted by falconred at 11:35 AM on November 3, 2006


Can you turn the engraving into a positive selling point and market it that way?

I agree with KAS - I think a true collector (one who is buying it in order to enjoy it, rather than try to re-sell it somewhere else) would appreciate knowing the history behind the watch and the engraving. I would include a paragraph explaining the engraving in your EBay auction.

Bingo! Call it provenance and double the asking!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:02 PM on November 3, 2006


Since the inscription is contemporaneous with the manufacture of the watch, it is probably a feature. At least it is not a substantial detriment.

I don't think you could successfully buff off the inscription. The patina will be probably be important to buyers.

I don't know watches, in particular, but that is pretty much how all serious collectibles and antiques work.
posted by Chuckles at 11:31 PM on November 3, 2006


If the inscription is strictly related to the retirement it adds nothing. Antique watches do not need any kind of provenance, the previous owners usually do not add value and no proof of production is needed since most brands can be identified through the makers mark or other characteristics. The inscription can and will be buffed off, and if a high street jeweller buys the watch it is probably the first thing he will do to make the watch more valuable to a modern buyer. Simple as that. My father is an antique dealer and I watch him buff inscriptions from all types of jewellery, trophies and silver items every day. It allows them to be bought and presented as gifts. That's not to say a collector might not fancy your watch.
posted by fire&wings at 7:32 PM on November 4, 2006


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