Vintage Watch Repair, The Do's and Don'ts

Submitted by JEV1A on July 14, 2023 - 8:53pm

The Do's and Don'ts of Vintage Watch Repair by John V. - Time & Again 

After hearing many horror stories about Vintage Watch repairs here is a quick guide and what to look out for. 

Do not send your watch to a United States P.O Box. Contact the Watchmaker or Company and ask for a physical address and Google that address. A watch sent to a USPS P.O. Box is a red flag. It may be legit but it could very well be a setup where you may never see your watch again. If the watchmaker cannot supply a physical address then run away! 

Be careful of Jewelers and Watchmakers that require on-line forms to fill out including your Credit Card Information. They may ask for a deposit or even your Bank Information. Never pay upfront for any Vintage Timepiece Repair service. Ask for a Estimate of repairs before the service begins. If you are not comfortable with the quote, run away!  Plus never give out your credit card information. 

On-Line watch repair services abound. Many are legit businesses but a few are asking for outrageous fees. Rule of thought is always "What is the value of my watch compared to the cost of the service? If the repair is several times more than what your Timepiece may be worth, run away! 

Make sure there is a written Warranty for the services. If not, run away! 

Make sure the person or Company you are talking to is actually the person doing the work on your watch. If a watchmaker says "Rest assured we will have your watch repaired by our expert technicians and they cannot give you the names of said technicians, run away! 

Ask for references 

Be careful of Fake Reviews 

Most watchmakers require you send a picture of your watch first to receive an Estimate of Repair. But be very careful about watchmakers asking for you to send watch first prior to giving an Estimate of Repair. 

These are just of few of the Do's and Don'ts that I subscribe to and hope it helps you make a good choice on choosing Watch repair services. 

John V. / Time & Again 

Posted July 15, 2023 - 7:15am

All great points. With experienced watch repairers becoming harder to find, it is certainly worth doing a little homework, before paying or shipping a watch off.

Posted July 17, 2023 - 9:55pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Thanks, yes... we all need to do a little research before sending off your treasured heirlooms. 

Posted July 17, 2023 - 9:16pm

A couple of thoughts here:

  1. Most often than not, watchmakers receive watches at a P.O Box rather than a home address. This significantly reduces the risk of loss or theft. This is perfectly normal.
  2. Although a watchmaker can provide a pre-estimate based on pictures (this is not a requirement), no serious watchmaker will ever provide an estimate without thoroughly inspecting the movement.
  3. A watchmaker who does not have examples of their work (not only cosmetic) is an absolute red flag. A quality service is not cheap, that is the reality of quality work.
Posted July 17, 2023 - 9:53pm

In reply to by watches777

Thanks for your comments. USPS P.O. Boxes is the #1 mailing crime source for scams. They are obtained illegally and setup so rings flourish. Sending a expensive watch for service to a P.O. Box is the worst red flag there is. Speaking to USPS, they stated that GPS Scanning can be done for your home and business deliveries, items to P.O. Boxes cannot be monitored the same way. Many times a P.0 Box is setup and abandoned quickly and false identification is used. Imagine sending your original 1st Model year Lone Eagle to a P.O. Box? If the watchmaker cannot supply a physical address, run away! 

Yes, a bench inspection needs to happen once watch arrives for a proper Estimate, I agree, 

Yes, watchmakers need to show their most recent services and restorations, I also strongly agree. 


Posted July 17, 2023 - 10:14pm
  1. Watchmakers in high demand receive several watches per month, and most often than not watchmakers have a dedicated shop separate from their home. Look at Greg Petronzi, ABC Watchwerks, Rolliworks, Archer, and many renowned watchmakers. It is not a true statement that tracking cannot be done for PO Boxes. I’ve mailed Rolex, Omegas, Vacherons, and Pateks with 0 issues to PO Boxes, this isn’t a big deal. 
  2. On the other hand, a watchmaker with zero references, evidence (or lack) of their work, and any media is the biggest red flag. Watchmaking is a small world and word spreads fast. 
Posted July 17, 2023 - 11:08pm

In reply to by watches777

I'm not here to argue, simply relaying horror stories from my Cliental. Fake references, comments and media run rampant as well. Probably not a good idea to mention names either. Write your own topic would be best, thank you for your expertise. JV Time & Again 

Posted July 17, 2023 - 11:48pm

These are phenomenal watchmakers who are renowned and celebrated, nothing wrong with that.

Simply stating facts and a point view

Posted July 21, 2023 - 4:25pm

I would also add, don't be afraid to ask all the questions before sending a watch over and during service. It will very quickly give you a sense of the type of person/business you are communicating with.  

I always try to give people a solid estimate range before their watch goes in the mail. As a consumer, it sucks to not know prices, and it can suck to ask, but a good watchmaker will easily be able to give you a general range. That's of course not to say there may be a lot more wrong once the watch gets in hand, but people who are overly vague either haven't worked a ton on the type of watch you're talking about or are hiding a large price tag until they get the watch in their hands. 

My favorite people to work for are the ones who genuinely care about their watch and want to see the process through.

Posted July 22, 2023 - 8:01am

In reply to by Aberlow

Completely agree, I have a fixed cost no matter what the problem is. Then after inspection I add for parts and extra restoration services.

My policy is if I can't get it running, its returned with no costs to the client. 

Physical inspection is imperative to realize all service cost factors. 

Sometimes I get the feeling I'm restoring Vintage Timepieces nobody else will touch.