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Tips for Restoring Your Movado Vintage Watch

You’ve found it: the beautiful Movado vintage watch you’ve had your eye on for what feels like your whole life. It’s for sale, and it’s calling your name. You buy it and check the mailbox every day (OK, maybe every few hours all day long) until it arrives.

You knew it from the pictures and description, but this Movado has seen better days. The crystal is cracked, the case is scratched, and it’s not ticking anymore. It’s time to get to work restoring your vintage watch to its former glory.

Restoring Your Movado Vintage Watch

How do you do it? Where do you even start?

Never fear—we’ll take you through the process of restoring your vintage Movado exactly the way you want it.

First: Identify Your Goal

Before you do anything with your watch, you’ll need to decide on your restoration goal. You have two choices: keep the watch’s original value or get your Movado looking and ticking like it did the day it left the factory.

Watchmaker’s tip: You can choose to do a mix of both options—replace some parts while keeping others. It all depends on what you prefer and what your watch repair shop advises. Once you’ve decided on a course of action, put everything in writing so that you and the watchmaker are on the same page.

Choice #1: Maintain the Value

If you want to maintain your watch’s value, restoring it will be a tricky process. You’ll need to find a watch repair shop that’s willing to hunt for replacement parts.

Fortunately, this isn’t usually as hard as it sounds. Back in the day, watch components were sold in sets instead of individually, so thousands of brand-new vintage parts are still out there. As long as you find an experienced watchmaker, you should be able to replace most, if not all, broken parts.

However, because you want to maintain the value, you may need to keep the broken parts instead of replacing or fixing them. This is especially true for the watch’s outer parts and vintage watches with a significant history. In many cases, you’ll need to choose the worn-out look over the brand-new look in order to maintain the watch’s value.

Watchmaker’s tip: Have a conversation with your watch repair shop about which parts should be replaced, which should be restored, and which should be left as is. If you’re having trouble deciding what to do, we advise you to prioritize functionality. For example, if your Movado’s crystal is cracked and leaving your watch susceptible to water damage, you should probably opt for a new crystal.

Choice #2: Go for a Full Refurbishment

If you’re not interested in the resale value, you can choose to fully restore your Movado. This will mean repairing or replacing many parts, if not every part, on both the inside and outside.

Watchmaker’s tip: Before going this route, you should know that most watch enthusiasts advise against fully restoring your watch. If it’s important to you to get the watch looking and working like new, consider asking your watch repair professional to keep all the original parts and give them back to you along with your restored watch. That way, you won’t be totally out of luck if you do choose to resell it.

Next: Pinpoint the Problem Areas

Your vintage watch may be showing its age in many areas. We’ll discuss the common issues and advise you on how to have your vintage Movado watch repaired at each step.

The Case

It’s highly likely that your vintage Movado’s case is scratched. If you want to maintain the value, you should consider leaving it completely as is.

If, however, you want to remove the scratches, giving it a quick polish is a great way to restore its look and shine. Just make sure to be very gentle, as you don’t want to accidentally round out sharp corners or change a brushed stainless-steel look to a polished one.

The Dial

Because the dial is literally the face of the watch, it’s one of the most significant factors in resale value. If your dial is damaged, it’s generally not recommended to replace it unless it compromises the watch’s movement.

However, if you want your Movado looking like new, talk to your watch repair pro about restoration options for your dial. Remember that it’s better to have a bit of discoloration than to lose the painted numbers or other details when cleaning.

The Hands

Like the dial, you should generally opt to keep your vintage Movado’s original hands. Hands can differ greatly between watches, and even a subtle change can cause the watch’s value to plummet.

If you’re unsatisfied with the way your Movado’s hands look, you can ask to have them cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner to remove dust and debris.

The Bezel

A faded bezel is much like a leather patina—it helps tell the watch’s story and is a desirable trait in vintage watches. Keep this in mind when choosing whether to replace, restore, or leave it.

However, if the bezel is broken in a way that compromises the watch’s functionality, you might consider replacing it.

The Straps

Your choice here will depend on the material of your Movado’s straps. You can have metal bracelets cleaned and buffed to look like new, but leather straps are a different story.

Leather straps will show scratches and develop a patina over time. There’s just no way to restore them completely. Luckily, replacing the leather straps will almost never compromise your watch’s value, and it’s likely that they were replaced at least once before you owned the watch.

Watchmaker’s tip: If the buckle or watch straps are original, ask to keep them. You can transfer the buckle between straps to maintain more of the vintage quality.

The Movement

Usually, replacing parts will not compromise your watch’s value, but it’s worth a conversation with your watchmaker to make sure you’re fulfilling your goal. Regardless, you should always have your watch’s movement thoroughly cleaned and serviced.

Restoring Your Vintage Movado

A vintage Movado is a thing of beauty. Whether you choose to keep as much of its value as possible, opt for a complete overhaul, or do a little of both, make sure to find a trusted watch repair shop to work on your Movado and keep it exquisitely unique.