At Black Bough you can buy vintage watches with confidence. All our watches are carefully selected and authenticated by our watch expert Alex Barter. Each watch is serviced and overhauled by our excellent watchmakers who are specialists in vintage timepieces. This means every mechanical watch is fully dismantled and all movement parts are cleaned, checked, lubricated, adjusted and re-assembled; they are then timed and tested before we offer them for sale. Our watches carry a one year guarantee. Black Bough subscribes to the Watch Register and all unique serial numbers on watches are checked against their database of lost and stolen pieces.
Our current stock is available to view online or in person at our shop in Ludlow. We offer a 14 day return policy for any watch purchased online (please refer to our delivery/terms for further information).
Manually Wound Watches
Manually wound wristwatches require daily winding – if you are not used to a hand wound watch, this is something that quickly becomes part of your daily ritual and is a matter of a few turns of the winding crown. Many people worry about over winding a watch, in fact one has to apply considerable pressure past the point of the full spring to break it. As a general guide, a manually wound watch, when worn day to day, will require approximately 10 to 15 turns of the winding crown. If a manually wound watch has been left to completely run out of power, it could require twice as many turns of the crown. For a watch to run at its optimum level, it is important to fully wind a watch until the spring feels full. Power reserves for watches will vary depending on the make and movement calibre, but a manually wound vintage watch will typically run for between 30 and 40 hours on a full wind.
Automatic wristwatches have a rotor inside them that will wind the watch whilst it is being worn. If such watches are worn daily, they will not need to be manually wound, however, if they have been allowed to completely discharge their power, a few turns of the winding crown will be enough to start the watch running once again. If you are not going to wear your automatic watch every day, it can be placed in an automatic winder which simulates the movement of the wrist and keeps the watch wound. This is especially useful if an automatic watch has calendar settings as it avoids the need to set the correct date if the watch has been allowed to run out of power. We have a stock of automatic winders for sale in our online shop.
All our watches are adjusted by our watchmaker to ensure that they are accurate timekeepers. However, these are not electronic/quartz watches and some variation in timekeeping will naturally occur. In the finest quality movements, these variations will be no more than a few seconds a day, however, in some watches, the variation could be around half a minute. When you bear in mind that mechanical watches are beating around half a million times or more a day, the margin of error is incredible; this is especially so when you consider that mechanical watches are subjected to enormous variations in position, movement and temperature throughout the day which can influence their timekeeping.
Some vintage watches were designed as waterproof and, indeed, many are marked as such to their dials or cases. That said, we do not guarantee any of our watches to be waterproof (unless we specifically state them as such in our paperwork) and we advise against immersing any vintage watch in water. However well vintage watches are sealed against water, it is almost impossible to guarantee resistance and there is simply no point in risking damage to movement and/or dial. Nevertheless, our watchmaker will always seal any watches with water-resistant type cases so, should they be accidentally splashed, no harm should ensue.
Care and Maintenance
Vintage watches require periodic servicing to clean, lubricate and adjust their timekeeping. It is generally recommended that a mechanical watch be serviced every 3 to 5 years. All watches bought from Black Bough are fully serviced and overhauled before sale and we are happy to arrange future servicing for watches that have been purchased from us – quotations can be provided upon request. Care should be taken to avoid contact with water and vintage watches should never be immersed in water. Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaners or polishing cloths that contain liquids. We recommend using a microfibre cloth to remove dirt or to gently polish the surface.
Watch straps and bracelets are generally held onto watch cases by spring bars. There are varying qualities of spring bars available on the market, we always check and routinely change the spring bars that hold a watch strap to the watch case and only use high quality bars to ensure durability. Occasionally original spring bars may be made of gold and, where these are in good condition, they will be retained. Some early vintage watches have ‘fixed’ bars, this means that the strap is either stitched or glued directly onto the watch – ‘fixed bars’ are always mentioned in our descriptions. The majority of our watches are fitted with Hirsch straps or our own branded Black Bough leather straps. We are official stockists of Hirsch straps which are also available to purchase separately and which we can fit to your watch for you. Please note that if you would like to buy an additional Hirsch strap, we may need to order the correct size for you which can take 2 to 3 days.
Selecting your watch
Browse through our watches online. By selecting a watch from the listings, you will be shown several further images that can be enlarged. We take detailed images to show you around the outside and inside our watches. You’ll also find a video for our watches which you can access where indicated in the watch descriptions.
We put detailed measurements for each of our watches within their descriptions to help you gauge their scale. We do recommend viewing our videos which can often give a better sense of scale than the photographs.
Restoration of dials and cases
We keep any restoration of dials (faces) and metal watch cases to a minimum – this is to ensure that they retain as much of their original character as possible. Metal watch cases are always thoroughly cleaned. Where possible, significant scratches are removed from watch cases and gentle and sympathetic polishing and/or graining is applied where necessary, although care is always taken to ensure that the overall design is not impacted. Dials (that is the face of the watch) are only restored when there is significant oxidation or water damage to the surface.
We provide a 1 year guarantee to cover the mechanical performance of our watches. Mechanical watches are not as accurate as quartz/electronic watches and therefore variations in timekeeping will naturally occur. These variations can be caused by a number of factors including extreme changes in temperature and movement. Even after your guarantee period expires, we are very happy to service watches bought from Black Bough. Vintage watches should not be considered waterproof and for this reason the guarantee does not cover water ingress. And, of course, if the watch is dropped, we can’t be held responsible if it stops working! But naturally, even if this does happen, we’re very happy to do everything we can to get the watch fixed for you.