“That’s so vintage!” Everyone says it, but not many know what it means. Here’s the deal on vintage and antique watches, as well as how to find them and incorporate it into an everyday look.
What Is Vintage?
It’s a buzzword in fashion circles, and it has made its way into mainstream shoppers’ vocabulary. Yet, few people can actually put a solid definition on the word. Most would describe something as vintage if it looked old or portrayed a style from the past, maybe the 60s or 70s. The true meaning goes deeper than that, though.
The word vintage goes back to traditional winemaking days. The year in which a winemaker produced their wine was its vintage year. As time went on, connoisseurs could look at the vintage year on a bottle to determine the quality of the wine. If it was a particularly good year for grapes, they would know that they were holding an excellent bottle of wine.
Of course, these days people use the term much more loosely. In fact, depending on who a person asks, they’ll get a different definition of the word. Some people define vintage items as those that are greater than 50 years old, but less than 100 years old. For those who are wondering, antique typically refers to pieces that are older than 100 years old. This makes sense at first glance, but it also eliminates a great many pieces that may be younger, but still fall into the vintage category.
That’s because vintage may also refer to items from a specific time period or era. For example, the cars of the 1980s have a distinct look to them that vehicles today don’t have. The 1980s was just three decades ago, so some experts wouldn’t consider these automobiles to be vintage. However, if someone holds to the definition of vintage as something from a specific era, then they would definitely call car models from the 1980s vintage.
It’s easy to see how people can use the word vintage in a multitude of ways. As a general rule of thumb, a vintage object should be able to give some clue about its year of production. This could be apparent in the style of the piece, the materials that comprise it, or its specified use. When it comes to shopping for vintage women’s watches, buyers should be able to discern which year the timepiece is from. Antique ladies watches should date back to 1919 or earlier to truly be worthy of the antique title.
Overall, these accessories have a timeless quality that keeps shoppers on the prowl. These aren’t just useful timepieces; they are wearable art. Their combination of form and function will likely never go out of style.
Where to Find Vintage Women’s Watches
There are several places to check out when on the hunt for antique ladies watches. Antique markets and stores typically carry hundreds, if not thousands of items that are decades old. This is the best place to find items from the turn of the century. Shoppers will have to scout out the jewelry section of the market, but once they find it, they’re set.
There’s some etiquette for shopping at these types of stores. The first step is to find out what payment type the sellers accept. Some only take cash, but these days a lot of them will accept credit or debit cards. Savvy shoppers get friendly with the shopkeepers. This lets them in on tips and tricks, such as when the market booths get new stocks and shipments. Certain sellers might only be there on specific days, so it’s wise to start a conversation and get to know each other. Unlike most stores, antique shops are open to haggling. Only beginners say yes to the first price that a dealer asks for. Just be sure to inspect the sought-after item for any damages.
Another place to shop is online. This is a convenient option because people can do it anywhere, anytime. Plus, they don’t feel rushed (unless an item is particularly popular or up for auction). When shopping online for antiques or vintage items, it’s best to start with an advanced search. Potential buyers can search specific categories such as collectibles, jewelry and watches, or shoes and accessories. They could also type in a keyword like vintage or antique, or even the time period that they’re looking for. Amazon, eBay, Overstock, and Etsy are some marketplace-type websites where buyers and sellers can haggle.
Finally, a visit to a jeweler’s shop is sure to bring some level of success. A jeweler with a decent collection may divide his timepieces into period-era groupings. Some examples of different eras include Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, and Victorian. These titles give shoppers a better idea of the production year of the watches. Moreover, jewelers provide the most expert advice, so they’re a great resource for consumers. Many jewelers can also help with upkeep and repair of antique timepieces.
Styles and Choices
Since vintage can encompass many different time periods, it’s helpful to have a list of the most popular. The Victorian era got its name from England’s Queen Victoria. The royal lady had a mighty influence on art, culture, and fashion at the time. In terms of timepieces, they usually took the form of pendants and pocket watches. Jewelers used different forms of gold and took a cue from the Baroque art movement that was happening at the time. The result was ornate designs, symbolism, and lots of floral motifs. That being said, these designs still included decent amounts of color. After the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, the monarch went into mourning. This resulted in jewelry that mixed gold with black enamel.
Art Nouveau followed the Victorian era and rebelled against formal design. This was a period for artists to play, and the movement specialized in decorative arts. An overarching idea of this era was infusing everyday life and objects with art, and this is apparent when looking at women’s watches of that time. Creators took an international approach, taking inspiration from Eastern cultures, particularly their depiction of nature. Many handicrafts of this time featured ornate carvings and designs depicting flora and fauna. There were a great deal of curvaceous lines and organic forms, and it was okay to stray away from symmetry and perfection. Gemstones were a popular choice for jewelry of this era.
The start of the 20th century brought the rule of King Edward and thus, the Edwardian era. Pendants and necklaces were still popular choices for watches and jewelry. The art of this period references classical artwork and motifs, such as the work of the ancient Greeks or Romans. Moreover, a French influence seeped into many of these pieces, including delicate stones or jewels. There was a focus on femininity, and diamonds and pearls were popular. In fact, this era is a great one for those in the market for a ladies vintage diamond watch. This was around the time that more middle-class people started wearing jewels, sparking a “new royalty.”
Art Deco emerged around the 1920s and ended in the mid-1930s. It was an art movement that focused on geometrical shapes and straight lines. Despite the symmetrical geometry, jewelry often included vivid designs. The shapes and forms were wider, as well as bolder in terms of color and use of the materials. Artists preferred to use a monochromatic or bichromatic color palette, as well as platinum and white gold. There was also heavy use of diamonds in jewelry and watches.
How to Style Vintage Timepieces
An antique or vintage watch can look fabulous on a woman, but there are some things to consider before showing off that new accessory. A bit of fashion sense can make era-specific jewelry look beautiful and deliberate, not kitschy.
To start, it’s unwise to wear vintage accessories with vintage clothing. Wearing so much antiquated fashion can make a grown woman look like she’s playing dress up. It’s best to focus on emphasizing one piece, such as a vintage diamond watch. The rest of the outfit can be modern, which helps the timepiece stand out and make a statement.
The next tip is to try basing the outfit around the vintage piece. In the case of a women’s watch, take a look at its colors and materials. An ornately decorated pendant watch shouldn’t be paired with a loud coat and outrageous heels. Play down the style with a more casual and polished look. Likewise, a lovely piece of jewelry outfitted with pearls and diamonds doesn’t need to compete with flashy earrings. According to fashion historians, it was Coco Chanel who said: “Before you walk out the door every day, take one thing off.” Sometimes, less is more.
A third tip is to spruce up that old-timey watch before showing it to friends. Depending on where they found the item, a consumer might have to polish or clean it before wearing it. Many different jewelers can help with this, and most online sellers will put some effort into making sure that their listings are clean and tidy. Still, it’s not that uncommon to purchase an antique watch that requires repair or a bit of elbow grease.
Finally, have fun mixing vintage and modern looks. The fact that a woman wears a Victorian-era watch doesn’t mean that she needs to deck herself out in a bustle and gloves. Ladies should feel free to combine their own unique style with their antique market find.