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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, I'm looking for a 60s or 70s watch. I'm especially interested in the rectangular stainless Bulova Accutron Spaceviews, maybe an Omega, maybe even one of the interesting old Seikos.

I've seen some stuff at NYC jewelers for stupidly inflated prices, and on eBay, but that's a bit of a crapshoot ("seems to work well").

Is there a reputable dealer you've worked with who has a good selection, reasonable prices, and can assure that a watch is authentic and properly serviced and calibrated?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks for that reference.

i emailed them a few hours ago and the owner just emailed back, saying he's at a vintage watch show right now and is going to look out for the piece i want.

great service!
 

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I would recommend Bill Porter in San Diego. his website is www.vintagetime.com. I'm just a customer but I bought my spaceview from him for a reasonable price and he stands behind his watches.

something to know, though, is that mechanical vintage watches are nowhere near as reliable as quartz watches--and that spaceviews, which were cutting edge technology 50 years ago, were a jump into a brave new world of transistors. while much more accurate than any preceding electric watch (i.e. Hamilton, Lip), they were and are still much less accurate and reliable than quartz. In particular, their coils are prone to burning out and can be sensitive to the new, post-mercury batteries. originally bulova would have repair people just drop in a new replacement coil, but as supplies are dwindling there is a real issue of long-term reliability using them and some dealers, like Bill, are moving away from stocking accutrons as a result. there's lots of information on the web about this as accutron collectors are a passionate lot.

other vintage mechanical watches vary in quality but remember, you have a very complex and now quite old mechanical device on your arm. It is sensitive to drops and shocks and needs expensive maintenance every year or two ($75-150, $350+ for a Rolex). Think of it like owning a vintage car: fun, more expensive than you planned on, unlike any modern car experience and a lot less reliable. Ever seen the papparazzi pictures of Tom Cruise and his wife stuck in his non-starting 58 Vette?

As long as you know what to expect, vintage watches can be enormously satisfying.
 

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by the way, always assume you are going to have to pay a watchmaker for a CLA at the very least for any watch you buy on ebay. and be prepared for the possibility that your watch will need parts that take a long time to source or may not be available any more. There are deals on ebay but you are competing with dealers and serious collectors with lots of experience, connections and sometimes even a stockpile of vintage parts. it's a dangerous place for a casual collector and if you don't have a watchmaker you can trust, better to pay more at a dealer whose relationships and experience you can depend on. I have had friends who "knew better" insist on getting ebay bargains who ended up putting a lot of money into mediocre watches. In the end, they got turned off on vintage watches and ended up with pieces they couldn't sell. caveat emptor!
 

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Located in LA.
Excellent service and great selection.
Slightly pricey on the railroad watches and not as knowledgable as I would like to see.

I've bought a number of railroad watches off of eBay. I know what I'm looking for and I know what to look at when buying and I've never had a problem. Except once. The watch was fine but the dope sent the thing merely wrapped in one thickness of bubble wrap and stuck it in a regular envelope. I had to have the balance staff replaced which the seller paid for.
 

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Advice?

Okay, I'm starting to buy vintage watches via eBay.

What brands should I start with? Looking at under $50 for starters. What should I be looking for? E.g., # jewels, material of case, tough years for watches (e.g., WWII), etc. What should I avoid?

I wore mechanical watches for 30-some years of my life. Never had any problems with them. You wound them when you put them on in the morning. You reset them periodically. Wasn't like you were timing intricate operations with them!

Thanks!
 

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If you're looking at SpaceViews, be very careful.

There are a lot of "SpaceViews" that were made by pulling the faces off ordinary Accutrons (which are worth a quarter of the price). The problem is complicated by the fact that some are legitimate - the original SpaceViews were actually not-for-sale demonstration models just to show off the technology; but customers tried to buy the demonstration models, so Bulova converted ordinary Accutrons to SpaceViews by removing the dial and changing the crystal. Others, though, were made years later by doing the same thing Bulova did. However, the dials and chapter rings were different. Also, your chances of finding a 100% original SpaceView are slim. Because Bulova stopped making replacement parts, the only way to repair one is to cannibalize parts (usually the coils) from another - usually a non-SpaceView (SpaceViews were made in the early 60's, and the coils are prone to failure). The price should reflect this.

Unless you just want the "SpaceView" look and are charged an honest price for a modified reproduction, a SpaceView is definitely not something you want to buy on e-bay unless you're an experienced member of the SpaceView cult.
 
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