A Grandfather’s Watch. A Secondhand Treasure

by Zach Clabaugh

An automatic timepiece is something, that if properly taken care of, has the ability to outlive both you and I, and can be passed on from generation to generation.

Automatic, or sometimes referred to as mechanical watches, are very similar to the engine of a car. Just like a car, normal maintenance is required to have the watch run at top performance. These watches have the ability to be serviced, cleaned, and if something were to break, be replaced.

Being that these watches can be passed down through generations, at Joyce’s, we have many customers who bring in a Grandfather’s old watch, and want it to run just as well as the day their Grandfather purchased it. As time moves forward, these watches may require small alterations. Maybe a new, more modern strap can be added, or even restoration of the dial in some cases is necessary. Grandfather’s stories of him and his watch and all of the places it was worn are fun to hear, and it inspires us to want to make the watch something to be passed down for more generations to come.

As the Watch Manager at Joyce’s, I am always looking for new and fun watches. In my case, my “new” watch is something that was passed down to me from my Grandfather. After my Grandfather recently passed, my Mom and I spent a few hours going through everything that my Grandfather had acquired over his 81 years of life. As we flipped through pictures, my Mom told me where the photos were taken and the stories she remembered hearing about the photos. As we continued to reminisce and search through all of his treasures, I noticed an old wooden jewelry box which contained some of my Grandfather’s most worn pieces. There were tennis inspired cufflinks, tie tacks, a few coins and a few watches. As someone that has a passion for nice watches, I was intrigued to learn more about the ones in my Grandfather’s box.

I first noticed the watch that my grandfather always wore, a Miami Dolphins logoed green dial watch, on his favorite stretch metal strap. And while this watch brought back so many memories, my attention quickly shifted when I noticed a watch with the Rolex logo on the crown; it was a watch that I never saw my Grandfather wear. I flipped it over and saw a Tudor Oyster Date in a Rolex case. I quickly went to my computer to do more research on this watch. After learning more about the watch, I knew that I needed to have Endee, our Watchmaker, do an overhaul on it. I couldn’t wait to wear it! After more searching, I surprisingly found the original box. My Grandfather was the type to always throw a box away the second he opened the product. Saving boxes or instructions was not the norm for Chet Peters.

Current state of Tudor, before overhaul

The current trend with watches is bigger, thicker cases. This watch, popular in its time, is much smaller, measuring at 36mm with the crown. Below are photos of the current state of the watch. I can’t wait for Endee to finish the overhaul so I can show you the completed product! This is something that I will always hold onto and wear, proudly knowing that it was my Grandfather’s watch. I look forward to someday passing this watch onto my own kids, and telling them stories of the man who first wore it on his wrist.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman with two vintage Omega’s. “John” for the sake of this story, was here to learn more about the two watches that he had. John heard that we had a watchmaker on site and wanted to learn more about the watches. He did enough research to know that serial and reference number were important to knowing the date that the watch was made. Before even seeing the watches, I asked how he heard about us and where he got the watches. John heard about us from a friend that recently had a Grandfather Clock overhauled by Endee. As he pulled out the two watches, he began to tell me where he acquired them. The first watch that he pulled out was a Speedmaster. The amazing thing about a Speedmaster is that at a quick glance, a brand new Speedmaster Professional looks the same as one from years before, with only small changes such as the movement and caseback. The watch was his uncle’s and was purchased in 1967. His uncle told him the day he bought it, that it would become John’s when he passed. Knowing that his uncle would be passing down the Speedmaster to him, John purchased a Seamaster in 1973. He selected the blue dial with orange minute chronograph hand for $250. In 2016, as a gift, his wife had both the Speedmaster and the Seamaster sent to Omega for an overhaul.

After learning about how he acquired the watch, I took them back to Endee to get reference and serial numbers on both watches. The first watch that he opened up was the Speedmaster. With his 20x magnification, he read off the serial number to me, 145.012-67, movement 321. To the non-Omega collector, this reference number and movement means nothing, but to the collector this is “The Moonwatch.” This reference number is the exact reference number that was tested by NASA and was the watch certified by NASA to go into space. Endee then read off the information for the Seamaster and I wrote down both serial and references for the customer. After I stopped drooling over the Speedmaster and having the pleasure to see the inner workings of a 321, I went out to speak to a customer. I showed the customer around the store, and explained that we were much more than the normal jewelry store. After showing him around, I gave him the information he came to us looking for. I asked what he was looking to do with both watches. He said that he recently retired and was looking to possibly sell both watches for the ability to travel this summer. I explained to him that we are always looking for neat pieces for our pre-owned case, and if I could have a day to do some research and see what both were going for, I would make him a fair offer for both. After researching, John and I made a deal to purchase both watches.

Speedmaster with 321 Movement
Speedmaster with 321 Movement
Seamaster from 1967

Seamaster from 1967

The great thing about well-kept watches, is that years later they can have great value. For example, the Seamaster was purchased for $250 new in 1973, currently these sell for $2,500-3,500, depending on condition. The Speedmaster, would have cost about the same new, around $250. Current asking prices for the Speedmaster with the 321 movement is $12,000-14,000 depending on condition.

Whether you make a new watch purchase at Joyce’s or shop from our pre-owned selection, the stories that you can create with that watch will be amazing. We look forward to having the pleasure to create lifelong family memories for you and your family.

With Father’s Day right around the corner, remember that you may just be picking out your own future watch 😉

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