Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

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Mark1
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Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by Mark1 » December 9th 2021, 12:43pm

A friend of mine asked me what I knew about a watch he had acquired. The watch belonged to his brother who recently passed away. From the pictures I could tell him a little bit, but I know some of you could tell me much more about it. Terry believes it is from around 1954. The movement is decorated pretty nicely, maybe even gold plated. What I found surprising was the exhibition case back on a watch from that era. I have not seen the watch in person, these photos were emailed to me. The watch does start with a few winds, but as you might guess the winding is a bit stiff. I would appreciate any information you can find on this watch. As well as opinions, insight on what may be required to restore the watch. Thanks, pictures follow.

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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by MKTheVintageBloke » December 9th 2021, 5:10pm

1950s is about right for this one. The movement is an ETA 1260 with one notable modification - the Wyler Incaflex shock protection. For what it's worth, the Incaflex is a system of elastic spokes of the balance wheel, which in event of impact take the weight of the balance wheel off the balance staff and its rather fragile pivots.

The dial is in great shape, pity about the case - chrome-plated and badly worn. Looks like it has a display back fitted to it. That would mean either a "sales sample," which would have been used to demonstrate the movement to customers at an AD, or it's some early attempt at a display back in general, like Omega's "Kleerback" for the US market. This Wyler has definitely been originally sold in the US, as per the 3-letter import code on the balance cock.

Wyler-Vetta (often branded as either Wyler or Vetta) was a well-known brand, with its key invention being the Incaflex alright. However, they also made some interesting early ventures into monobloc cases.

If it hasn't been serviced for a long time, I'd bet something's gummed-up good with old grease in there, so it's really not safe for it to be worn until it's been properly attended to.
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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by smellody » December 9th 2021, 6:02pm

MKTheVintageBloke wrote:
December 9th 2021, 5:10pm
1950s is about right for this one. The movement is an ETA 1260 with one notable modification - the Wyler Incaflex shock protection. For what it's worth, the Incaflex is a system of elastic spokes of the balance wheel, which in event of impact take the weight of the balance wheel off the balance staff and its rather fragile pivots.

The dial is in great shape, pity about the case - chrome-plated and badly worn. Looks like it has a display back fitted to it. That would mean either a "sales sample," which would have been used to demonstrate the movement to customers at an AD, or it's some early attempt at a display back in general, like Omega's "Kleerback" for the US market. This Wyler has definitely been originally sold in the US, as per the 3-letter import code on the balance cock.

Wyler-Vetta (often branded as either Wyler or Vetta) was a well-known brand, with its key invention being the Incaflex alright. However, they also made some interesting early ventures into monobloc cases.

If it hasn't been serviced for a long time, I'd bet something's gummed-up good with old grease in there, so it's really not safe for it to be worn until it's been properly attended to.
That's some good 411!
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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by Mark1 » December 9th 2021, 8:29pm

Great information, thanks MK. Any idea what a reasonable service/inspection might run? It may or may not be worth my friend repairing. The sentimental value may be its only value. The case is pretty much thrashed. If the movement could be made serviceable again that might be the way to go.
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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by conjurer » December 9th 2021, 11:34pm

Mark1 wrote:
December 9th 2021, 8:29pm
Great information, thanks MK. Any idea what a reasonable service/inspection might run? It may or may not be worth my friend repairing. The sentimental value may be its only value. The case is pretty much thrashed. If the movement could be made serviceable again that might be the way to go.
I'm sure that Mr. Bloke could attest to the actual monetary value of the watch, but as Mark says, the sentimental value is probably it's only worth. It would be up to his pal to figure this out for himself.

Mrs. C got a batch of watches from her grandfather upon her grandmother's passing; most of these were pocket watches, which the old man seemed to collect for no apparent reason. However, one of the watches was a fine Lord Elgin in a gold case, a small tank watch that he got from his company on his 25th work anniversary. I sold off the pocket watches, one of which was an 18k lady's pocket watch, and from the proceeds we were able to get the Lord Elgin restored, and still own. This cost us about $400. The Elgin is probably worth about $500-600 but, it was her grandfather's, and he apparently wore it a lot.

Sometimes, a watch owned by a family member is worth restoring just for the sentimental value.
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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by MKTheVintageBloke » December 10th 2021, 7:57pm

Mark1 wrote:
December 9th 2021, 8:29pm
Great information, thanks MK. Any idea what a reasonable service/inspection might run? It may or may not be worth my friend repairing. The sentimental value may be its only value. The case is pretty much thrashed. If the movement could be made serviceable again that might be the way to go.
Servicing costs vary all across the US, as far as I know. Some watchmakers will charge something like $100, some - $200 or thereabouts.

I think it has three major issues to be dealt with - servicing the movement, replacing the crystals and replating the case. The bezel might be tricky, it looks like it was gold plated, i.e. it's a two-tone. Obviously, these facets won't look as sharp when replated, but it'll sure as hell look better than it does now. Normally I'd go along the lines of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it." But since the original plating is simply fucked, that warrants fixing alright.

This watch really must have been a looker once, and given that the dial is in great shape, restoring the case is the way to go. What makes this one even more worth saving is that it's somewhat uncommon with that display back.
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Re: Vintage watch, what can you tell me about it.

Post by nimbleboy » December 14th 2021, 9:17am

TemerityB wrote:
December 13th 2021, 9:13pm
conjurer wrote:
December 9th 2021, 11:34pm


Sometimes, a watch owned by a family member is worth restoring just for the sentimental value.
I hear that. Right on the money.
As I mentioned here a couple months ago, I have my grandfather's old Wittnauer at a shop. I told my parents I was excited that it was only going to cost me a couple of hundred dollars to get it fixed, cleaned up, and running. Haha! My dad almost crapped his pants. Sometimes I forget how skewed my notion of "expensive watch" has become. I basically told them the same as above.
Is it safe?
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