How to Determine the Value of a Pocket Watch

value of a pocket watch

A potential buyer of a pocket watch needs to acquire some information about pocket watches before trying to determine their value. Determining the value of a pocket watch is a complicated task. So, in order to avoid mistakes, do some research. Many important factors such as the manufacturer’s specifications, cases, and mechanical movements are to be taken into account. Just like any other antique item a pocket, watch’s value can’t be determined just by looking at the outer case. There are certain factors you need to keep in mind if you wish to determine the value of a pocket watch.

1. Quality

If you are unable to figure out the model or the manufacturer of the pocket watch consider checking out a guidebook. Before you make a final decision it is important to take into account the quality of a pocket watch for determining its value. Make sure you clearly check the number of jewels it states. Jewels facilitate timekeeping in a better way and also lower down the friction in order maintain an efficient running condition.

Adjustable watches are designed in such a way that they work with accuracy in different conditions and positions. Railroad grade watches meet the standards that were set by railroad engineers in the past and they are of the best quality.

2. Physical Condition of The Watch

Issues with the physical condition of a pocket watch can decline its value to a great extent. A minor crack or a chip can greatly decrease the overall value of the pocket watch. Watches that need repairing clearly have a very low value.

Water damage is the deadliest type of physical damage that can destroy the value of a pocket watch. It causes rust and you are better off with no watch than to own a rusty watch. Look for any dents or cracks before making a purchase.

3. Working Condition of the Pocket Watch

Don’t be fooled by the fancy silver or gold plated covers. What really matters in determining the value of a pocket watch is whether it is in a proper working condition or not. The best way to determine the working condition of a pocket watch is to wind it and wait to see whether both hands are moving in a steady manner and showing the correct time. If the hands don’t move, bring your ear close to the watch and listen closely. If there is a distinct ticking sound then the condition of the watch is good.

4. Value of the Case of the Pocket Watch

Be it an open face or a hunter case a pocket watch that does not have an appropriate case is often less valuable. Look at the back of the case to check for an engraving by the manufacturer. Then find out what kind of material the manufacturer has used to make the casing. Sometimes it is imprinted on the face of the case. You can also read some informative books for extra research.

Another factor that is crucial in determining the value of the case is the material with which it is made up of. If it is made up of precious metals like gold or silver, then the value of the pocket watch becomes high. If semi-precious materials or brass casings are used then the value of the watch decreases. It there is a gemstone attached to the casing then the value of the watch rises rapidly.

5. Movement Value of a Pocket Watch

As stated earlier, just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should never try to determine the actual value of a pocket watch merely by looking at its design or casing. The movement value of a pocket watch is one of the most crucial factors in determining the value of a pocket watch. In most cases, the protective casings of any pocket watch are manufactured by a different manufacturer than that of the pocket watch itself. Even the company in which the intricate parts of the pocket watch are fitted is different than that of the company which manufactures the casing. When you locate the model number and the manufacturer of the pocket watch case, do some research on where the parts involved in the movement of the watch are manufactured.

Movement Design

The design of the movement pieces and gear in a pocket watch have the capability to make a huge difference when it comes to determining its value. Ornately decorated parts and gear that have an amazing case are used to design the pocket watches that cost a lot. Any kind of extra embellishments in the watch or gear of the pocket watch is an important factor in determining the value of a pocket watch. These are deciding factors that tell the exact cost of a watch.

Movement Condition

One of the most important factors to be considered while purchasing a pocket watch is the condition of its movement. A quartz pocket watch can sometimes have missing parts and gear that can lead to it working in an inappropriate manner. When you purchase a pocket watch make sure you test the movement condition. If the condition of the movements of a watch is not up to the mark then an absolute masterpiece would turn into a worthless piece of junk after some time.

Removal of the Movement

In order to see the model number and the movement manufacturer, the removal of movement has to be done. Since this is a tricky task, it is better to get it done by a professional. You can also remove the movement at home but since this is kind of an intricate work you need to take some extra care. Professionals have tools that can gently pop the movement area.


For those people who wish to determine the value of the watch, it is important to know the difference between the common terminologies related to a pocket watch. If you carefully do some research before making a purchase you definitely wind up with an amazing antique.

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