The Trouble With Research

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For lovers of vintage watches sometimes the most frustrating aspect is research. There are often numerous variations for vintage watches and making sure the model you are about to buy has the correct matching dial, hands and movement to the period can be a time-consuming process, just as important you want to make sure you are paying the right price. One way to do this is to search through the archives of Antiquorum, Christie's and Sotheby's websites, however you are at the mercy of the corporate's search function and these are sometimes not designed with your ease of use in mind. In 2007 Antiquorum, who undoubtedly have the most user-friendly database, suddenly and without warning shut it down to the public (it has since been made available to those that subscribe). Christie's for a long time had a useful database until they copied Sotheby's and made it virtually useless. As a quick guide for those that haven't used it, the Antiquorum  system combines words and lists results in order of date sold, so if you're looking for the most recent Rolex Military watch offered, it searches for 'Rolex+Military' and lists results, ideal. Sotheby's and now Christie's use the google principle of listing results by relevance, so although you may get the Rolex+Miltary you were looking for, it is just as likely to be from one sold in 2004. If you change the search function to list by date, then it will list results showing anything containing Rolex OR Military in the title, so you really end up with nothing relevant.  I notice Sotheby's have gone one further and now try to interpret what you are searching for, so if you type in 'Patek 1518' it's just as likely to change your search to simply 'Patek' as this produces more results.

Of course there are third-party sites you can subscribe to such as ArtNet but for those that search infrequently a paid service isn't the answer, nor are their images zoomable so seeing details becomes an issue. 

As difficult as it can be, doing research, whether it is sitting in front of a computer, visiting auction viewings and dealers, searching forums or attending collector meetings, is the best way to learn more and personally I love it. Give me a cup of coffee, comfy chair and 20 years worth of old auction catalogs to search through looking for a rare Patek Philippe reference any day of the week.