If you’ve ever inherited or collected a vintage watch you’ve probably recognized that the heritage, quality and craftsmanship that went into your piece are easily lost on modern society.  Vintage watches can have tremendous value—both monetary and sentimental.  Whether you decide to add it to your collection or sell it to another aficionado, chances are your timepiece may need a little TLC to get back in working order.

Here are 5 key points to consider before committing to a watch service or overhaul:

     1)  Find a reputable technician who has experience dealing with your particular brand and model.  The difference in results between a certified master watchmaker and Joe Jeweler down the street are typically well worth the difference in cost.

     2)  Consider what you want done to the watch, whether cosmetic or functional.  Most cosmetic changes are permanent, meaning you can’t go back and undo the work that’s been done.  Be specific in communicating your requirements but don’t be afraid to ask questions.  An experienced technician is a treasure-trove of knowledge that should be able to recommend the best course of action if you are uncertain.

     3)  If you are concerned about retail value, don’t assume that trying to restore the watch to its original condition is the best route.  In fact, many collectors prefer a watch proudly sporting a few battle scars as a badge of honor. 

     4)  Ask what’s going on under the hood.  For higher-end watches, repairing with parts scavenged from other movements may adversely affect the performance and certainly the resale value.

     5)  Determine the service schedule.  Most manufacturers will recommend servicing about every three years.  For a collector who doesn’t wear a particular watch on a daily basis, that may be unnecessary.  However, any watch that has lost its ability to accurately track time is probably due for a check-up.

The most important thing is to treat (and make sure your technician treats) your watch with the mindful care it deserves. Don’t let your antique watch sit lifeless and forgotten in a lonely drawer—see what steps you can take to enjoy it for years to come.