How to Restore Vintage Watches Bought from Estate Sales

Coming across old watches can be a magical thing.

But nothing can compare to the feeling of repairing an old vintage piece and watching it come alive again. However, doing so can be a long tedious process.

And one mistake can mean drastic changes to the watch as a whole. To learn more about the process keep reading:

Teach yourself or pay an expert

The first thing you should know about repairing old watches is that you must gain a lot of experience. If you are aiming to teach yourself that is perfectly fine.

But understand that handling old vintage watches means being gentle. And you will likely mess up and ruin a few watches in the process. Don’t feel embarrassed about paying an expert for a tricky repair.

Troubleshoot Your Watch

Now that you are confident in repairing old watches you will need to start becoming an expert at troubleshooting them. Here are some ways to troubleshoot the vintage watches:

Dead Battery

If you own a quartz watch, then the battery should last about two years. If the battery dies in significantly less time than that, then it is cause for concern. This may be a circuit problem. You may need to replace a few parts or clean and oil it.


Small inaccuracies in your watch’s time are nothing to jump at. Because you own an old vintage watch it won’t be as accurate as a newer watch. However, if the watch is inaccurate more than 30 seconds this may mean it needs an adjustment.

Running Fast

If your watch is inaccurate to the point where it is always fast then this may be a separate issue. Knocking the watch hard enough may have moved a hairspring inside of it. Another possible issue was that there is a magnetism problem.

Winds Continuously

If you can continuously wind your watch back without a stop or resistance then this may be an issue with the mainsprings. You will need to replace these parts.

Before starting to repair your watch you should look into getting it appraised. This way you can see just what kind of value you are dealing with.

The Parts of Old Watches

When learning to repair old vintage watches, you’ll need to be able to examine each part. So we’ve comprised a small list to get you familiarized with them:


The crown is the part on the side of the watch that winds it. If this part breaks, you must find a perfectly matched replacement. Then after you have found it, you will need exceptional precision to replace it.


The class is also commonly referred to as the “crystal” in many old watches. When the glass of a watch cracks it can allow water and dust inside of it. If it is just scratched you may find ways to remove those scratches.

However, if the watch isn’t for regular wear you may be able to get away with keeping it. If you are replacing it, try to find one from the original manufacturer.


The case of a watch is the outer metal part of the watch. The regular repair done to a case is polishing it. If you are thinking about watch polishing you should be aware that it is not always ideal. For more vintage watches polishing can decrease its value.


The dial is the face of the clock. This is the part that indicates the hours and minutes. Replacing this can take knowledge of the watch’s internal makeup.


The hands of the watch are what tell the time. They are the two pins that show the hours and minutes. You can replace them but doing so can also impact the value.

More Articles on Old Watches

It is important before doing any repairs to your watch you research it extensively. Some repairs may seem standard but if done in haste then you may be decreasing the value of your watch. To learn more about fine old watches check out this blog post.