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Vintage Watches

Commemorating the history of horology, the vintage watch is a symbol of 20th century innovation. While the pocket watch was the time-telling device du jour for several centuries, the arrival of the wrist watch in the early 1900s revolutionized watch wearing and offered a much needed solution to those who struggled with managing their pocket or pendant watch.

Arriving on the European market in the late 1910s, the wristwatch soon drew high demand because it allowed the wearer the freedom from the chains and fastenings that complicated earlier watch formats. This freedom was particularly appreciated during the era of the World Wars, as soldiers heading into battle found more facility in the wristwatch when ensconced in the trenches.

Since these early years the wristwatch has become commonplace, yet its vintage ancestors from earlier in the 20th century come imbued with this history and also, in some cases, luxury as well.


Quick Facts

  • The first wristwatches were known as bracelet watches and were initially panned by both European and American clientele. Once their utility was realized, however, the wristwatch rapidly usurped the pocket watch’s consumer control
  • Rolex, a name synonymous with reliable timekeeping, revolutionized the field of wristwatches in 1910 with the introduction of its first waterproof Oyster model
  • One of the most expensive watches to sell at auction in recent years was a Patek Philippe stainless-steel perpetual calendar model from 1944. Appearing at a Christie’s auction late in 2007, it sold for $2,260,000

Read the Invaluable Guide to Vintage Watches to learn more.

Recommended Items at Auction

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RARE VINTAGE ZENITH ALARM POCKET WATCH
Oct 27, 10:30 AM BST
RARE VINTAGE ZENITH ALARM POCKET WATCH
by Sterling Vault Auctioneers
Est: £250- £350
£1705 Bids
VINTAGE SILVER VERGE POCKET WATCH WITH ALBERT CHAIN
Oct 27, 10:30 AM BST
VINTAGE SILVER VERGE POCKET WATCH WITH ALBERT CHAIN
by Sterling Vault Auctioneers
Est: £150- £250
£702 Bids
VINTAGE POCKET WATCH WITH BRASS NAUTICAL CASE
Oct 27, 10:30 AM BST
VINTAGE POCKET WATCH WITH BRASS NAUTICAL CASE
by Sterling Vault Auctioneers
Est: £100- £150
£500 Bids
Diamond & Platinum Art Deco Watch
Oct 31, 12:00 PM AEDT
Diamond & Platinum Art Deco Watch
by Smalls Auctions
Est: AUD900- AUD1,250
AUD7500 Bids
Group of 10 antique pocket watch keys, 19th and early 20th century, the largest 4cm long
Nov 07, 10:00 AM AEDT
Group of 10 antique pocket watch keys, 19th and early 20th century, the largest 4cm long
by Leski Auctions Pty Ltd
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD800 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Vintage Watches


Sterling Vault Auctioneers

Sterling Vault Auctioneers

Smalls Auctions

Smalls Auctions

Leski Auctions Pty Ltd

Leski Auctions Pty Ltd