If you’re not an experienced watch collector, chances are you’ve never heard of a #sexpile before. (It’s not what you’re thinking!) It’s just one of the slang terms used by the horology community, evidence of a passionate group of individuals who obsess over the finest details in watchmaking. For rookies, entering this community can feel quite daunting. This is even more so the case when buying vintage models, which requires buyers to possess a broad depth of knowledge. For first-time vintage watch buyers looking to join this passionate community, here are four tips to help you make that very first purchase.

Classic and timeless, a Rolex never goes out of style.

1. Be Guided by Your Curiosity

Watch specialist and writer Abid Rahman asserts that watch collecting should be a personal passion: “Buying a watch… should always be a personal thing. Yes, we’re all influenced by trends… but fundamentally, if you like something then that should be the key reason. And this dictum is especially true when it comes to vintage watches which can be more of a headache than most people realise. Vintage watches, depending on age and condition, may need more servicing — which can be costly, not to mention super annoying.” 


2. Question Your Intentions

Whilst personal interests should drive any watch-collecting hobby, it helps to also have a clear sense of what you would like your purchase to accomplish. Are you searching for a personal keepsake that you may eventually pass down? Is this a piece that you may potentially resell later on? These dynamics will alter the weight you give to differing purchasing criteria. For someone looking for an investment piece, it’s important to consider market trends. Certain brands like Rolex always seem to carry their value. If a model is popular, in limited supply or discontinued, this will also help to determine the model’s longevity and value.

Browse websites such as pre-owned watch site Watchbox to find your next coveted timepiece.

3. Education is Everything

Taking the time to learn about watches is an investment that will pay back dividends. Much like purchasing art, invest time to learn about each brand, its history, the rarity of the model(s) in question and pricing. Purchasing watches used to be something which took place in the secluded walls of a shop, but because of the Internet, companies like Watchbox — an e-commerce site for pre-owned luxury timepieces — have made browsing models all the more instantaneous with their online platforms, so make full use of the available information online.

Rahman also advises people to take information found online with a grain of salt, and to learn through trusted sources: “[Because of the Internet] there is a distinct lack of gatekeepers to information, so there are a lot of shady, ill-informed people offering advice, particularly on YouTube. I always recommend sites like Hodinkee, or A Blog to Watch, Monochrome and Worn & Wound that feature stories and reviews that veer between pretentious and super geeky, but are always well researched and informative.”

4. Upon Closer Inspection

Having honed your focus on a specific brand and model(s), it’s time to see what’s on offer from the market. Play close attention to the condition of the watches on offer. Beware of Frankenwatches — pieces that have had their insides replaced with components cobbled together from other models. Also examine the edges of the watch in question — pieces that have been consistently polished and buffed tend to have rounder edges — a sign that metal has been removed in the process. This can negatively alter its market value.


Ready to make your first vintage watch purchase? Have a browse around e-commerce sites such as Watchbox, or pay a visit to local shops such as Antiqlockwise or Berne Horology.


All images courtesy of Watchbox. 

Daniel Kong
Contributing Writer