New technology kills old technology. The combustion engine outpaced the carriage, electric lamps snuffed out gas lanterns, online retailers outsold brick and mortar, and the list goes on. Yet, there has always been a bit of a wrinkle in this rule. People are sentimental. We like to keep things alive past their time – and there is no better example of that tendency than the love vintage wrist watches receive.
For all intents and purposes the traditional watch should be tossed aside and forgotten. The imperfect instruments we once wore on our wrists have been far outpaced by atomic clocks and the phones in our pockets. Yet, thanks in large part new technology – the world of vintage watches has come on a kind of renaissance. Websites like Hodinkee have pulled scholarship on horology out of obscure online forums and far-flung shops and put them squarely into the mainstream. Instagram accounts have done their part, too. The once private hobby of collecting odd and obscure watches has become a totally public one garnering followers and likes in the thousands. As a result, the vintage watch market has exploded in popularity. Watches that once sold at auction in the low thousands can now pull well over ten times what they were originally bought for. Yet, how exactly does one get in to this hard to understand world? What are the safe places to buy online? We’ve compiled a list of the best places to buy vintage watches to help guide novices toward their first purchase.
We’ve written about 1stdibs before in our best furniture shops post, but the online marketplace is known for selling more than just great reading chairs. They have a vast collection of art, jewelry, and vintage watches. Take a look through their offerings and you’ll find pieces from big names like Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, as well as more obscure makers. Generally speaking you’ll likely not find the biggest steals here given that they’re a go-between for the purchaser and other dealers. Everyone has to get their cut.
Founder James Lamdin wanted his store to be a resource for enthusiasts, and above all else a place with a reputation for authenticity. All of the watches in Analog Shift’s shop have been beautifully photographed and feature descriptive, in-depth write-ups. While the New York City based shop has plenty of impressive picks, be sure to check out their sister brands as well.