There’s a certain point in life where your tastes start to become more unique and refined, but you aren’t working full time in a career that allows you to really splurge on hobbies.

Some vintage watches cost a small fortune, but not all of them. Since style is subjective, you can find something you love without breaking the bank. By shopping around, learning a thing or two about what to look for, and being patient you can find some great watches to start your collective even if you’re only making paper-route money. Granted, you can’t expect to find perfect-condition Seiko 6138 chronographs at the Goodwill (unless you’re incredibly lucky), but there are still some gorgeous and affordable vintage watches to keep an eye out for. Here’s a look at some great choices…

The coveted Seiko 6138 (image via ebay)

Quick note: “Affordable” is relative. To some people, the $10 convenience store special is all they really want out of a watch, whereas someone used to looking at $20,000 vintage watches would think $1000 is cheap. For this list, we’re looking at vintage timepieces that are relatively affordable, that doesn’t mean every watch on this list will be cheap.

3. U.S. Military A-11

Given the history behind these watches and their lovely simple design, it’s surprising that you can pick up a decent used one for around $100 or so. In mint condition, they can get a lot pricier, especially with WW2 collections, not to mention watch collectors themselves. But there were a lot of them produced and lot of them out there, so used ones – while still fetching a decent dollar – are still totally attainable. Just try to find one in decent enough shape, and you’re all set.

2. Omega Seamaster

Omega is a legendary watchmaker, and its Seamasters are classics. Brand new, they can cost well into the mid four figures, but you can find used ones for a few hundred. It’s still a lot to spend on a watch if you’re delivering fliers or working part-time at the movie theater, but you’ve got people at school spending that much on a pair of shoes that’ll get worn out in half a year – whereas you end up with a timepiece that can appreciate in value as time passes (no pun intended), plus you get to wear it and enjoy it in the meantime.

Cleverly purchasing vintage watches to flip later on is one way to build a collection over time, but with vintage prices skyrocketing, wait until you really understand and get a feel for the market before going all in.

1. Cortébert Jump-Hour

image via ebay

This super unique watch doesn’t have hands. Instead, the whole face turns instead. It’s unlike anything most people have seen, and a definite conversation starter. It’ll likely run you a few hundred dollars, but if you like a collection that stands out and tells a story, this is a must-have.

Final Thoughts

Collecting watches is definitely not an inexpensive hobby. You have to enjoy the hunt, and then it can be very worthwhile. If you wear watches and enjoy that aspect of it, you’ll get even more value out of it. Cheaper vintage watches that may have a few scratches and dings on them take away the pressure of trying to keep them pristine, which is good from a practical watch wearer’s point of view.

Mat Woods
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Mat Woods

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