Sometimes it’s important to know the age of a preowned watch – when trying to authenticate it or if you’re buying a birth year watch for instance.
The tricky thing with vintage watches in particular is that, unlike a car’s registration number, there’s no common, recognised method for dating a watch.
If we take a vintage Rolex Submariner as an example, we find that the various key components were made at different times and then the watch was assembled from those parts. When we inspect our vintage Rolex now, we may well find that the case is from 1966, the case back from 1965, the bracelet from 1968, the Chronometer certificate from 1967, and the papers are from when it was sold in 1970 – and all of this would be perfectly ok.
So when Oakleigh Watches are looking for a birth year watch for you, how do we judge its age?
Whenever possible we will use the date of the main component, which is the case. This carries the serial number applicable to the watch as a whole and is the most broadly accepted way of judging when a watch was ‘born’. From that serial number we use generally recognised tables of production dates to check when it was made – bear in mind though that even the best of these tables are only accurate to + or – maybe six months and with some watches, Omega Speedmasters for instance, it can be less precise than that.
On later watches it’s impossible to tell when they were made because most serial numbers are randomly generated. In this instance, all we have to go on the date of original sale which could differ from the date of manufacture significantly.
Our advice is to go with the balance of probability and in all honesty unless something screams that it’s wrong, go with it and enjoy your watch.
If you’re looking for a watch from a specific year, either for yourself or as a gift, drop us an email and we’ll gladly discuss it with you.