Vintage Watch Parts LTD is owned and run by Niall & Laura – a UK based family business.
The story of how we began to sell old watch parts, movements and horological tools is not the one you would expect to hear!
Whilst looking for furniture at a local auction in early 2018, we noticed a large quantity of old watch parts, pocket watch movements and tools. We had a small interest in watches at this point, but nothing serious. We had both been fascinated by old tools, machinery or anything mechanical and must have spent nearly two hours looking through the boxes of these old watch parts. We were completely fascinated at everything, not really knowing exactly what much of it was for.
On auction day, as it progressed, we became keen on bidding on a box of parts. We were successful in buying one lot, but didn’t know what we really had. On the day we were shocked to see 20-30 lots of parts – boxes containing hundreds and hundreds of antique movements for watches and pocket watches, sell for hundreds of pounds. They were won by two men who were bidding against one another – both of them scrap metal dealers. We both remember overhearing one man state that there were gold parts on the movements that sometimes added up to quite a lot of scrap.
These words meant little to us at the time, but we would later come to look back on the day we discovered watch parts as one of both regret for what we witnessed and wonder for what we had discovered.
We were successful in winning a lot containing pocket watch glasses and a box of dials. It would later transpire that these dials were all for 1920s and 1930s Rolex watches. There were about 115 in total, many were small ladies Rolex dials, but there were some mens one as well.
At this time in our lives, we were looking for a new business venture. Niall had left his job as a manager in retail (a 14 year career) and Laura was already a self-employed business owner but wanted to be part of something new.
We proceeded to sell the parts we had bought on Ebay and were shocked at how much some of them were worth. As this was happening, we were setting up an online marketing business mainly dealing with website design and creation, but we had a light bulb moment!
We decided to reinvest the money we had made in buying more watch parts the next time some became available. Two months later, we bought approximately 500 pocket watch movements, 1000 wrist watch movements, a collection of horological tools and many thousands of other parts. The following days and weeks were one of research, education and discovery – we both knew what a glass crystal and a dial was, but little else!
We gradually sorted through the boxes, old cigarette tins and cabinets – sorting, researching and listing on Ebay. We came across names we are proud to have found – Rolex, Omega, IWC, LeCoultre, Tudor, Longines to name a few. Then over a period of months we learned what each part was called and what it was for. We found balance staffs, balance wheels, hairsprings, clicksprings, wheels, crowns, stems, cases, mainsprings, barrels, clicks, escape wheels etc…
We listed hundreds of items over the Summer and Autumn 2018. Each time something sold and we packaged it up, we had a sense of pride that we were helping a watchmaker or hobbyist repair a pocket watch or wrist watch – helping it to work again. Not only that, the buyer was helping to make a family running a business earn a living. It was around this time we also decided that this business was going so well that it should be registered properly and that this is what we wanted to focus our efforts on.
We began work on the website in January 2018, to help advertise our business selling on Ebay. However, we realised that selling stock through our website gave us more control over inventory and was far more productive a method of selling and listing stock than to sell via Ebay.
Using our website design knowledge, coupled with some Microsoft Excel skills, we were able to launch the website in July 2019 with over 8,500 products – all balance staffs and stems. This is a great start, but there is a huge amount still to list for sale.
Our plans for the website are to maintain our already comprehensive catalogue of balance staffs and stems and offer a huge selection of other parts we can better maintain away from Ebay:
Verge Escapement Pocket Watch Parts – we plan to be probably the only place in the world to buy specifically measured individual wheels and components for Verge pocket watches. Eventually, you should be able to find over 1000 wheels and parts – all measured up and for sale individually. Selling these parts in little job lots is easier, but by measuring them and selling them on their own – you can find exactly what you are looking for without taking a punt on a job lot.
Mainsprings – we have thousands of new old stock Swiss made mainsprings for both pocket watches and vintage watches. These will be listed on the website as well.
Movements – we plan to continue to sell many of our movements on Ebay but some will make it to the website as well.
Dials – many loose dials we discover are damaged, but any that are in wonderful condition and ideal as a replacement dial will find their way to the website.
Watch this space and sign up to our mailing list at the very bottom of the page to be informed of any new stock additions to the website!
We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint, not only as a family but for our business as well.
We do utilise bubble envelopes, paper, boxes, bubble wrap and tape when sending out goods. We ask of you that this is reused or recycled after it is no longer needed.
Nothing we do ends up in landfill, we recycle everything.
Our Legacy and Values
We are striving to aid in preserving horological timepieces through the sales and service we provide to watchmakers and hobbyists all around the world.
Our first year of trade saw us supply parts to over 50 countries and many customers have now become repeat customers. Our customer feedback is excellent.
We pride ourselves in offering the best service possible.
As we both look back to that first day in 2018 we discovered parts, we now realise that movement scrapping (something that took place during the 1930s depression) still takes place today. We have witnessed it on more than one occasion where a scrap dealer buys large quantities of watch movements. One of our goals is to try and make sure this stops happening. That the undiscovered movements and parts out there are found again and utilised the way they should be.
Remember, when you buy from us, you aren’t helping a CEO buy his next luxury holiday home or expensive car, you are helping to support a family.