It is true that many ‘old school’ watch collectors express a strong preference for un-restored dials and they will often state that a good original un-restored dial will form a large part of a vintage watch’s value. However, most collectors and dealers will tell you there is much more to this. Dials age at varying rates due to light, humidity and changes in temperature and while most of us would prefer a vintage watch which has been hidden in its box and never seen the light of day, such watches are exceedingly rare and unvaryingly will remain off the market and hidden away.  Like vintage cars in museums, there is something a little unfortunate about this. After all, both were made to be used and enjoyed.  In the case of watches, used with care of course, but not hidden in away in a draw or safe.

Even in normal careful use, a 60 year old wristwatch dial is likely to show significant tell-tale signs of ageing. This may take the form of crazing, pitting, fading, local staining and scratches. A typical collector’s tolerance for such ageing is usually much greater than that of the average wearer and so the market for such watches is smaller and therefore the laws of supply and demand come in to play and this will tend to even out the price and value. It is perhaps sufficient to say that a quick poll of today’s vintage watch dealers will tell you that around 90% of today’s buyers prefer watches with restored dials rather than ones with damage through ageing.

Also many of the major watch manufacturer’s service centres, have routinely refinished or replaced aged dials as part of a major service, and so this further complicates the picture.