I have had a few newer members asking me for advice on how to spot a good vintage watch and what they should be on guard for. I've decided to post a little primer on how to assess vintage watches (primarily Omegas, though the principles could just as well apply to other marques). I hope this will come in handy for especially newer members, who could need some assistance in the chase of their dream watch. There is, at any given time, a huge amount of vintage Omegas for sale. A very, very limited number of them are outright fakes, more often it's the condition of the (genuine) parts that makes the difference between an attractive purchase and an unattractive one. So how do you determine if a watch is in good condition? Have a look at the following parts: 1. Case: This should be in a condition where the original facets are still clearly visible. The original brushing on any brushed parts should still be visible too. Places where this is very visible: Bezel, lug chamfers, case back medallion (if any). Consider these two Constellations: The first one has razor-sharp edges on the lugs and the bezel is perfect too. On the other subject, the lugs have lost definition and the bezel has been rounded by polishing. This greatly reduces the overall impact of the design and should be taken into consideration, were you to consider a purchase. Note that most old watches have been polished at some point, so while having an unpolished specimen is great, one that has been polished could just as well be a well-maintained, old watch. Here is an example of how correct brushing can affect the look of a watch: This is actually a before-and-after photo of one of the members' Seamaster 168.022, which had been incorrectly brushed at some point. Look into how the polished and brushed parts of the watch you are looking for are supposed to look like and this will help you uncover no little amount of attempts to cover up bodge-jobs. 2. Dial. This is the focal point of any watch, and should have your full attention. 2.1. Redials... This is pretty much a no-no for a collector, even though there are a few cases where tolerances are higher. In general, redials are rather common and a lot of them were done more or less on a routinely basis during the early days of your watch. A redial can be partial, and for instance be the addition of some text or the restoration of a part of a dial. Alternatively, it could be complete and consist of either having the dial plate cleared completely and then repainted (with varying degrees of success) or consist of getting a completely new dial put in the watch. The latter can be impossible to confirm and if done with the correct dial generally doesn't detract from the overall look or value. The former, the reprinted dial, is rather common. Unscrupulous vendors will try to talk around it by claiming that the dial is "original" - as in "the same bit of metal", but that's bollocks. And they know it. Here are two Omega Seamaster Calendars for your enjoyment: Notice how fine the text on the first dial is and how it... isn't on the second one? That's because the second one is a cruddy redial. Knowing how the font looks like on the reference you are researching will help you quite a lot, especially on Seamasters. Where can you find this info? On Omegaforums, naturally. Do a search and spend some time smarting up. Other tells on the second example are the minute marks that are of varying thickness and length and the light green lume plots. The original radium lume would have been washed off when the dial was cleaned. A final - and really rather obvious - tip: If it's an old watch, there is little chance that the dial will look as virgin white as the lower one. The light, rather even spotting "suffered" by the top one is typical of this particular reference and a good sign of authenticity. Get to know how your targetted watch usually patinates and it will help you in your assesment. Dial patina will be the focus of the next post before I'll move onto other parts of the watch. Part 2: Dial Patina. Part 3: Luminous markers and hands. Part X: Fishing on eBay.