Buying from me
Using Your Watch
Also see my FAQs, also on a Blog page.
I no longer sell through Antiques Centres.
The continued decline in the number of good watches available for restoration has left me struggling to maintain 30 - 40 watches in stock compared to the 80 - 120 I had until the autumn of 2017. As I can sell everything from the web site it was no longer sensible to pay for the Brackley display case and the commission the centre took and I closed it in March 2018. Outlets in Chipping Norton and Wallingford closed in 2013.
Viewing on the web
Watches are normally left on the web for a minimum of 10 days from the date of purchase and usually for several months as this gives customers a better idea of the sorts of things I sell and I frequently get requests to try and source similar watches. To try and avoid confusion sold items are moved to the bottom of the page and marked SOLD. From June 2016 all higher resolution pictures will remain on my Zenpholio website for the foreseeable future, buyers can get copies for free by contacting me.
Due to limitations with this web sites hosting service, higher resolution pictures are held on a different site, previously this was Photobucket and briefly Google Photos, but from June 2016 pictures of watches currently for sale and some already sold have been moved Zenfolio, a hosting site for professional photographers where they can be viewed and purchased as prints, downloads etc. Also available are a limited number of very high resolution pictures (up to 24 Mega Pixel) optimised for printing which can be printed up to poster size. From each watch listing click "More pictures" to view the larger pictures of the watch in a new window, please remember that hi-res photos are many times life size and will make some tiny flaws, marks, etc. look huge!
Visit my Zenfolio Galleries
Items will normally be shipped within one working day of receipt of cleared funds by personal cheque (please remember it takes 6 full working days to fully clear a cheque) or by Paypal - you do not need a Paypal account to do this, you can pay by credit or debit card as a "guest", see below.
UK e-mail order buyers may return any item within 7 days for a full refund of the purchase price if they are in anyway dissatisfied with their purchase but postage charges are not refundable.
Due to an increasing number of non-payers (and non-communicators) watches will, unless otherwise agreed, be reserved for 2 days from the invoice date and if payment has not then been received it will go back on sale. If the promised PayPal invoice has not been received within an hour of it being promised please check your Spam folder and if it is not found get in contact with me.
Import duties, if any, are the responsibility of the buyer and please do not ask for the value to be understated.
Please make initial contact by e-mail, which I will normally respond to within 24 hours and more often within a few hours.
All items for delivery within UK are sent by Royal Mail Special Delivery fully insured at a cost of £9.00.
Be aware that the Royal Mail charge a supplement of £3 for guaranteed delivery on a Saturday if you wish to have this service please let me know before I raise the invoice.
Shipping Outside of UK
From 1st April 2014 the recently privatised Royal Mail withdrew their international "AirSure" service, the means that the maximum insurance available through the mail is now £250. At the customers risk I can send worldwide for a flat rate of £15 with this maximum compensation of £250.
The alternative method is "Parcel Force" with higher cover, but it is expensive, here are some examples for a watch & chain up to £500 in total value:
Germany: £51, Japan: £70, USA: £62, Australia £70. There is a special service for the Republic of Ireland @ £28.
When ordering please let me know if you require the fully insured option and to what country delivery is required..
The mechanics of paying with PayPal.
As mentioned above you do not need to have a PayPal account to make an online payment as PayPal also operates as a secure payments service giving protection to the buyer against non delivery and some other problems (details here).
When an order has been confirmed I send you an invoice by e-mail via PayPal, this includes a link to PayPal which allows you to pay from your existing PayPal account or by using a credit or debit card. As well as providing a secure method of payment you are then protected against non-shipment and certain other eventualities which you can find on PayPal’s service agreement.
All watches come in a black jewellery pouch. Those sent though the post also have a black box in addition to the transport packaging. more details can be found on my Blog.
I originally retired in 2009, my second and final retirement will, for one reason or another, happen in the next year or so. To enable an orderly close down and some timing flexibility I am progressively reducing the warranty period from my customary 12 months.
With immediate effect (May 2019) movements are guaranteed against mechanical failure for 6 months or until 31st May 2020 whichever is the later.
In practical terms this is unlikely to have a impact on buyers as I can only recall one watch requiring warranty work after 6 months (a broken mainspring IIRC) and this is still likely to be as good a guarantee as the manufacturer offered, this is from the warranty given by J.W. Benson, a premium maker:
They do make an interesting point:
However, because of the age of these watches and the ease with which mishandling can damage them, certain items and faults may, at my discretion (which to date has not been exercised), be excluded from the warranty:
- Balance assemblies including staffs, jewels, hairsprings, etc.
- On Fusee movements: Fusee chains, maintaining and stop gear.
In addition the warranty is null and void if the watch has been subject to misuse, physically damaged or has been taken apart or otherwise interfered with.
For the moment, warranty on watches sent outside of UK will be limited to watches returned and received in UK before BREXITor bought back to UK at the buyers risk. This is due to possible import duties and VAT payable on returns. I will revise this when a deal is (or is not) agreed.
Warranty on watches already shipped are not affected, watches sold in the mean time will benefit from any future improvement.
Buyers outside of the EU be warned: UK authorities are likely to impose VAT & possibly import duties on watches returned to the UK from outside of the EU and couriers will then add a "handling charge". On my first return from outside the EU (for a minor problem), the buyer put an inflated value on the watch "to be on the safe side" and used a premium carrier, this resulted in a bill for £145, more than half the value of the watch and I can not cover such charges. However I understand that if the package is clearly marked "UK Goods returned for repair", duty should not be payable, but this is at the buyers risk.
New Old Stock (NOS) Crystals
Whenever possible I replace watch crystals that are in poor condition with old style, often contemporary, mineral glass crystals rather than with modern acrylic; but be aware that these have not been manufactured for many years and some may have minor imperfections (as did the originals) and minor damage sustained when in storage.
Mineral glass crystals are no longer made and are increasingly difficult to find, I have many hundreds of them (the picture is just part of my stock) but frequently do not have one to fit, so acrylic is then the only option, the ones I use have the same profile as a traditional glass, are very ridged (Except hunter crystals which are flexible) and almost indistinguishable from glass and, unlike older plastic types, do not turn green or yellow with time. Although unbreakable they do scratch more easily than glass but only cost about £4 each so can be replaced easily.
Unless otherwise stated all watches keep good or excellent time for their age which I define as +/- 2 minutes per day on a static test in a benign environment, most will perform significantly better than this and usually manage +/- 20 - 30 seconds per day tested Face up, Face down and pendant up. And better than that again for railroad watches and those of similar quality. Be aware that others, particularly dealers on ebay, defined reasonable or good as +/- 5 minutes - although you may need to ask them to get that information! I will normally regulate a watch to run a few seconds / day fast on a static test as they tend to run a little slower when worn.
As they run-in after not being used for a long time and following their restoration their stability will improve but accuracy is likely to change and may require a little adjustment (see the guidance notes Using your watch).
The accuracy of most old watches, particularly those with solid balances, can be significantly affected by temperature changes, patterns of use and many other factors. Because of this timekeeping accuracy is not normally quoted for individual watches.
Attribution is only made where there is some sound evidence but due to the frequently poor records available and the very fragmented nature of the watch industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries there is some room for ambiguity and so cannot be guaranteed.
Information regarding American pocket watch movements is far better than for most others and information provided comes with the watch will largely have been taken from the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) database available here and other archives.
Information regarding English case makers is largely taken from the excellent “Watch Case Makers of England, A History and Register of Gold and Silver Watch Case Makers of England: 1720-1920” by Philip Priestly, 1994.
For information about dating see my blog post on the subject..
What does “Serviced” mean?
Judging by the state of some watches that come to me “Serviced” it is clear that some people think that a service means just putting lots of oil on a watch and nothing else irrespective of its general condition. A thorough check and a minimal amount of oil applied to the correct places (which will always require the movement to be taken from its case and the dial and hands removed) may be sufficient to count as a service for a watch in good condition, kept in good conditions and that has been subject to light or moderate use since it’s last “full service” in the not too distant past. It is not sufficient for a watch that has probably not been serviced in 50 years!
So for the avoidance of doubt this is what I mean by “serviced”. The movement will have been stripped, the mainspring checked and usually replaced (see below) and the movement cleaned as described in my blog post here then run for a week to check that all is working satisfactorily. Like the movement cases are ultrasonically cleaned and then polished as appropriate for the type of case, see also my blog post "the restoration of a silver watch case" .
With the occasional exception, mainly with American watches, new and unused parts other than mainsprings and crystals are unobtainable for 100 year old watches and certainly none will have been manufactured for at least 50 years, where a part is broken, damaged or too worn to be useful it is necessary to make one or more often to rob and if necessary modify a part or parts from a similar watch to affect a repair. I do not use modern plastic replacement dials preferring to replace with an appropriate period dial.
When I service a watch I check the mainspring is fully functional (e.g. not “set”) and a reasonable size, it is amazing how many have had replacements that are clearly the wrong size and power! Any that are doubtful in any respect (almost all) are replaced with a new and unused spring which will normally be newly manufacture although some sizes are no longer obtainable in which case a new spring from old stock may be used.
All springs fitted to Waltham and some other American makes conform to the manufacturer’s original specification as these are well documented. Other makes are fitted with a spring that is at least a close fit in width and length and which is strong enough to operate the watch without over driving it.
5th Feb 2019 - Web Site
Changes to the web site are largely complete and it will move to the Secure Sockets (SSL) protocol shortly.
2nd Feb 2019 - WEB SITE ISSUES
Unfortunately the web hosting company are withdrawing support for the template used by my web site and I am going to have to rebuilt at least some of it.
Initially it will look a mess and some links, views and customisation may not work. I will tackle the worst aspects as soon as I can but it is likely to take several days before everything is finished.