Personal effects, July 29

Published 5:49 pm Monday, July 31, 2017


Question: Hi Jerry, these watches were my brother’s who passed away a couple of years ago. Are these worth fixing? The guy who looked at them for scrap said that they were gold filled and not worth anything.

One is marked Westerfield and the other is a Bulova. They just don’t keep good time and stop after a few hours. The bands are broken and the faces are discolored.

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I guess that they date from when he was in high school in the 1950s. I thought if they were worth anything and could be fixed, I’d give them to his two nephews. He thought so much of them and they did him too.

Thanks for all the articles you write. I love to read them.

Answer: Finally, a question about classic men’s wrist watches. These are two nice ones. It’s the kind of watch that people actually wear. Men and women. Women love men’s watches, at long last, women can have a watch that they can see.

I can kind of break down the watch market pretty quickly. OK? Ready? No snarky emails please.

Wrist watches that are made by legendary companies: Rolex, Patek Philippe, V&C, Omega and others, or well known American makers: Hamilton, Gruen, Bulova and others and examples in solid gold. Always selling, trading and collected. Prices are across the board.

Pocket watches. Unless they are masterpieces by top European makers. The market is dying. Everyday these watches wind up in the scraper’s pile.

Little, delicate ladies watches. Unless they are top European makers OR dripping in gems, there is little appeal in the market. In fact it is dead.

This likely makes up the majority of the scrap watch market. There I said it.

If you collect or like pocket or ladies watches, that’s great! God love you for it, because you are the exception and not the norm. No, the watches you have aren’t uber luxury makers but they are a far cry from the quartz junk that’s on the market today.

Your scrap dealer is correct, they are gold- filled but a large majority were. Still that doesn’t mean they should be tossed in the garbage. Most small towns still have a local jeweler that has a watch maker. Don’t wait too long, as watch makers are becoming rare. You might hit a lucky streak and find that they just need to be cleaned. That’s fairly nominal in price, much like a good quality leather band.

You might also have the dial cleaned but I’d pass on having it re-enameled or custom made. You want it to have some patina. You’re going to have to pay attention to your repair bill. If you’re looking at a broken winding stem or some other major tragedy, then you’re looking at spending some major bucks. If that’s the case then you might want to rethink repairing them.

However, these are heirlooms so you’re going to have to weigh that. In excellent running condition, watches like these, will run about $125-$150 each. Many smaller jewelers / watch makers offer estate pieces in this neighborhood of pricing. Thanks for sharing and a great question.