Event Report: The Rikketik Vintage Watch, Clock, And Timepiece Fair
The Rikketik fair has existed for as long as I can remember. And yes, that’s quite some time. My “watch memory” goes back to the 1980s, and the Rikketik fair already existed then. At that time, it was in Utrecht, but nowadays, it’s in Houten, just a stone’s throw away.
In my opinion, an update of RJ’s Rikketik article from 2006 was long overdue. That year might have been the last time that I visited the fair too. So on April 23rd, 2023, RJ, Sinara, and I traveled to Houten to see what the Rikketik fair is like today.
The Rikketik Vintage Watch, Clock, and Timepiece Fair
As mentioned, the fair is held (four times a year) in Houten, not even 10 kilometers south of Utrecht’s city center and conveniently centrally located in the Netherlands. The location’s name is Expo Houten, and it is situated on an industrial estate along the A27 motorway. Although we understood that the venue is accessible by public transport, we chose to go by car to avoid surprises. We knew that there were sufficient and free parking spaces near the building.
Entrance tickets can be ordered online beforehand or bought at the fair’s ticket counter at no extra cost. They come in a few variations and range from €8.50 for subscribers/members to €45 for early-bird non-subscribers/members. A ticket for regular visitors and entrance between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM will set you back only €15.
What to expect?
Entering the immense hall where the fair takes place might be a little overwhelming. Without having measured it precisely, I think there’s a total length of at least 600 meters of tables. They are packed with vintage wristwatches, pocket watches, clocks, alarm clocks, parts, accessories, books, straps, tools, and everything related to watches and clocks. And the thing is, you can hardly see them because of all the people standing in front of them. Your first impression might be, “How on earth will I be able to see them all?”
Well, you won’t. And you don’t want or need to. A natural selection will be made between the tables that have products of interest to you and the ones that don’t. As the fair is meant for everything related to watches and clocks, you’ll find a lot of stuff that can be skipped. If you’re into table clocks, you’ll skip the tables with wristwatches; if you’re into wristwatches, you’ll skip the alarm clocks, for instance. The nice thing about the fair is that anything related to watches and clocks can be found — anything.
It’s good to see that not only Dutch sellers use the Rikketik fair to offer their products but also sellers from abroad. Many Germans, Belgians, and even French have a table. You can rightly say that it is a European fair.
What about the watches on offer?
I want to be honest; we were a bit disappointed. Our expectations were probably a bit too high, spoiled as we are. Of course, it wasn’t about the numbers or variety of watches on offer, but, in general, the condition wasn’t exactly what we hoped for. Many watches I saw had known better times. We even saw watches for sale that included a little bag of parts to help you to get them going again. Additionally, many watches on offer were of the same type. If you were looking for a 35mm steel, three-hand, dressy watch from any brand you can think of, you would have had a very long day trying to see them all.
Besides a lack of quality, the prices were often as high as their guaranteed counterparts at, for instance, Chrono24. Of course, we only entered the fair at noon, and it could be that all bargains were sold by that time already. In RJ’s last report in 2006, he noticed many fake watches. I’m glad that wasn’t the case anymore. With so many watches on offer, one can’t be sure everything is original, but at least fake watches weren’t openly promoted anymore.
Over the years, there have been jokes about the fair’s atmosphere. Probably because of those long-standing jokes, I expected it to be far worse than it was. Mind you, a vast hall full of vintage stuff will not smell like a tulip field, and maybe not everybody had just taken a shower, but generally, the air quality was fine. And it seemed that, without exuberant joy, everyone was having a good time.
The available coffee and snacks have also always been a point of criticism. And when it came to the snacks, I have to agree wholeheartedly. The coffee was on par with an event like this, though.
What did we buy?
By the time fair was coming to an end, we had managed to visit all the tables with watches on sale. Exhibitors had started to clean up their tables and get ready to go home, but we still hadn’t found anything to buy. That’s a shame; you can’t visit the Rikketik fair and not buy anything. Sinara to the rescue! On her quest for a funky vintage ladies’ watch on a metal bracelet, she had seen a lovely 1975 Omega Seamaster Mariner. We hurried back to the owner’s table, and after some last inspections and a bit of negotiation, the watch changed hands for an attractive price.
If you want to experience the largest vintage timepiece fair in Europe for yourself, the next Rikketik fair will take place on July 9th, 2023. You can find more information and tickets for sale at www.rikketik.nl. You can also follow me on Instagram @gerardnijenbrinks.