barn find watch

Watches & Pencils #36 – Barn Find Watches

Teun van Heerebeek
March 19, 2018
Watches & Pencils #36 – Barn Find Watches

I was thinking about different ways to acquire a watch. Maybe the most enjoying of them all is the ‘barn find’. So what exactly is a ‘barn find’ in the world of watches? You could describe it like this:

A watch (preferably in mint vintage condition) that is more or less forgotten by its owner. Often the original owner wasn’t a watch collector, and not aware of the collector’s value of his watch. A barn find is the fantasy of  every watch collector: stumbling upon a very collectible watch in a yard sale, flea market, etc. 

barn find watch


New Watch VS Barn Find

Imagine yourself find a hidden gem. Wouldn’t that be more enjoyable than buying a new watch at a dealer? What are the biggest differences between these ways of acquiring watches? To mention some:

New watchBarn find
 You actively search/buyYou bump on a hidden gem
 The price is highThe price is low
Not rareRare
 No work: ready to put onChallenge to restore. Proud afterwards

The last point is an interesting one. It might not be a good plan to restore the barn find watch. Like with ‘regular’ vintage watches it needs to be treated carefully. Maybe the safest option is often to just keep the watch (and value) as it is.

True Sport

The way I see it is that acquiring vintage watches or barn finds is more like a sport if you compare it with ‘just’ buying new watches. Perhaps this is the most enjoyable part if it. A part of the beauty is the process/journey itself. A fair share of watch knowledge will help you judge a vintage or collectible watch if you come across one. I would say it’s almost a sort of modern gold digging 🙂

Good and Bad News

Bad news: I think barn finds might disappear within the next decades. Older generations did not have the internet and were simply not aware of the market and collector’s value. They probably did not have access to information. Nowadays, we have so many online market places, informational websites and forums. Everything has become transparent. Chances are small you will find a Daytona Paul Newman on a flea market.
Good news: it will become even more exciting to stumble upon a barn find.

Examples of Barn Find Watches

We did cover some articles about true barn finds. To read further about two examples:

Happy hunting and Baselworld 2018!

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Teun van Heerebeek
About the author

Teun van Heerebeek

Teun van Heerebeek is contributor and visual artist to Fratello Watches. With his Watches & Pencils illustrations and other articles he likes to explore the vast watch-lands in all its diversity. His love for watches mainly originates from his eye... read more

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