Professional Jeweler Archive: What's Your Question? Part 2

December 2000

For Your Staff/Selling Timepieces

What's Your Question? Part 2

Our watch expert has the answers

Here are a few questions readers e-mailed to Paul White when he filled the "Ask the Expert" slot on White directs the watch division at Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN. (Part 1 ran on p. 111, November 2000).

Q. I have an old gold watch and would like to know how and where I can get it appraised.

A. Many people possess old pocket watches and wristwatches. Some are valuable, some aren't. Determine what kind of valuation you want: selling, wholesale or collector value. Seek out a specialist in vintage timepieces; get several opinions and be prepared to show the watch. If it's a name-brand Swiss watch, find the manufacturer or its U.S. representative. A style and case or movement number can help date the watch, and a manufacturer may be able to provide original and current market value. If you can't find the manufacturer, contact a local jeweler or call the Swiss Watch Federation at (973) 291-8811.

Q. What's the relationship between a watch's stated water resistance and its actual water resistance?

A. A watch often states water resistance in feet, meters or atmospheres. This depth is often engraved on the back of the case. Let's use the common water resistance of 30 meters (99 feet) as our example. The resistance is measured typically in a "static" pressure-testing device, formerly wet testers and now more commonly vacuum testers. The watch is measured in a static mode under non-stressful, ideal conditions. This watch is water-resistant if the wearer scuba dives 99 feet down and takes all precautions recommended by the manufacturer: the screw-down crown must be screwed in; a conventional crown with protective gaskets must be pushed in against the side of the case; the back, crystal and crown gaskets must be changed, if necessary; and it should be pressure-tested.

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