What you see isn’t what you get
by John V. -Time & Again
There are only a few watchmakers all high end actually making an all Swiss Watch. In accordance to tariff laws and such Swiss Watchmakers can use a single Swiss part in a watch movement and call it Swiss! Most of the Swiss quartz movements are actually Miyota or similar Japan Movements. Automatic watches use the famous ETA from Japan and China. Then the swiss simply stamp on the back or inside the movement Swiss Made. It’s a con job made in hell. The high end watch makers like Rolex fight and fight to get these laws changed but nothing happens.
Presently there really is not any true American Watchmaker although claims to the contrary run rampant. Such as the stainless steel cases are coming from China because its 100% cheaper to have cases made in china than build your own steel foundry. And what about plating is that really gold?
So my case to buy vintage is simple:
Imagine gold found in the Hills of the high Sierra raw being shipped to Bulova 5th Ave. There, cleaning up the gold for different shades such as Red or Yellow Gold solid or filled and additionally adds silver nitrates to make a White Gold Case. Then molds and manufactures their own bezels Often case backs are purchased from over a dozen manufacturers.
Today none of this is happening except high end watchmakers. Yellow dyed gold plating is used and cooked in high degree ovens and electroplated to the stainless steel for mass produced cases. That’s why over a few years the plating wears off. Most of what you see is cheap gold toned cases.
Movements all changed when the quartz watch was introduced. Ultra cheap Japan and China movements powered by cheap batteries. Most of what you see today in the $300.00 - $800.00 range use these movements. Again the words Swiss Made may be stamped on a Japan Movement.
See through backs today make it seem that you are buying a more expensive watch than it sells for. Technically its completely useless and the cheap crystal may crack and expose the movement. It may look cool but only used as a marketing tool.
Dials are simply stamped today and baked by computer automated generation.
Vintage dials were hand painted with enamels filled with gold and radium hands etc.
Nobody cares today except collectors. They see those big putrid giant dials at 55mm and they buy the watches off the shelves. A watch should be fitted correctly to your wrist size.
I would suggest Limited Editions or Designer licensing such as Raymond Weil’s Beatles watches or the new Bulova Frank Sinatra Editions. At least you know in 20 years it may be worth something if its still running.
In the day your Grandfather buys a quality Bulova from the Jeweler. He signs a warranty to have watch serviced every year.
When I open up the cases I can see the markings of service some as old as 100 years ago.
Today nobody except high end watch collectors have regular service offerings. Many Quartz watches end up...when the battery dies… the watch dies.
Interesting that a good quality watch is still today something a consumer should not attempt to service themselves. Most huge watchmakers today don’t service watches returned, they simply change them out.
Back in the day the common man only had a single watch. Today you buy a watch to fit your lifestyle. For a daily wearer buy an affordable one. For a dress watch spend the money for quality.
Horological speaking watches today have taken many steps backwards to mass produce as cheap as possible.
Just remember, the guy at Zales that sells you the new $500.00 Bulova has no clue to any of this.