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Tips to Tell a Watch’s Value

February 15th, 2023

A tattooed man sports a classic Omega watch on a casual outing in the city

Watches are universally admired for their versatility and fashionable functionality. Several designer brands offer a myriad of timepieces in all styles. Likewise, they vary highly in value and expense. It can be hard to gauge a piece’s value if you inherit it, purchase it at an estate sale, or receive one as a gift. However, you may be able to get an idea of its value at home. Learn how with Hing Wa Lee.

An 18k yellow gold watch from Oris sits on a gold-colored fabric table cloth during an outdoor picnic

Metals and Materials

Watches can be made of many materials. Some can exhibit an array of dazzling diamonds and gemstones, while others feature cheap plastics and inexpensive polymers. Check the watch’s materials to gauge whether the timepiece exhibits a luxurious, collector-worthy quality or a disposable chic. Plastic watches are generally less valuable, although some lines of plastic watches are desirable to collectors. Timepieces with precious metals can be more challenging to appraise at home, as gold plating and other treatments complicate things. There are some tests to take at home, such as the vinegar test, but generally, you should take it to a professional.

A selection of women’s fashion watches from Shinola are protectively displayed in a sales case at a retailer

What’s in a Name’

When it comes to watch value, a brand name means a lot. They carry a reputation for quality, fame, and beauty that can make some brands more valuable than others. If you buy a watch with a clear name, look it up online. There are many watch enthusiast websites out there that have helpful guides and indexes on brand value. However, be aware that counterfeits and imitations exist. Moreover, just because a piece has a well-known name does not make it inherently valuable.

A woman sets down her white leather watch and yellow gold cuff on her desk

Smooth Movements

This common trick is an easy and well-known technique to figure out the authenticity of a piece. There are three types of watch movements: manual, automatic, and quartz. The first two are used in high-end timepieces valued by collectors, while the third is affordable and used in most watches. Even if a quartz timepiece is disguised to resemble a manual or automatic timepiece, there is one crucial difference: hand movement. If the watch has quartz movement, it always jumps forward every second. Meanwhile, automatic and manual watches’ hands move at a gradual and steady pace.

A couple looks into the display window of a closed jewelry store to get an idea of what their inventory looks like

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Pick a Professional

While a precursory online search is good, it is always better to have a professional look at it. There is more to a watch’s value than the brand and model. Many things that affect the timepiece’s market price are found underneath the case, including the health of the machinery, the integrity of the case, and the authenticity of the parts. Moreover, it can be challenging to discern a genuine watch from a fake counterfeit. If you aren’t completely sure that a watch is real, always take it to an expert for an appraisal.

A woman wearing an array of gold and colorful jewelry, including a yellow gold watch, drives to her nearest jewelry store

Head to Hing Wa Lee Jewelers for Fantastic, Valuable Timepieces

Find the best, most beautiful watches at Hing Wa Lee. Our San Gabriel and Walnut showrooms are staffed by the brightest watch experts in Los Angeles, well-versed in our selection of dozens of today’s top designer brands. We have everything from household names to small microbrands. No matter what you need, we have it in our two magnificent showrooms. Want to know more? Email us at or browse in-store today.