I got my estimate and I have some questions

Hey guys,

I still lurk on this wonderful site, but I haven't had much to say for awhile.  But now I have a couple questions. 

I sent my beautiful watch in for factory service and for them to fix/replace my cracked crystal.  I just got the estimate, so:

-Should I get the watch polished(in my opinion, it didn't need polishing)?

-Should I get the brown alligator strap and rose gold open buckle they are offering?

The reason why I ask about the strap and buckle is my watch is vintage and I want it to continue looking vintage.  Will the new strap and buckle take away from that???

Thanks for any advice anybody can give me.

My personal opinion - not to buff
02/24/2009 - 21:41
From your picture, the case looks pretty good, I'd leave that alone. The strap, you should consider getting that. It would be hard to find better quality than what you are being offered. As for the buckle, you aren't going to find a correct vintage one, so I would also go with that. Even the modern tang type buckle looks good on vintage when properly sized. My pet peeve though are new alligator straps that are too wide or too stiff for a vintage piece. Back in the day, a nice alligator (or any animal skin) strap would be thin and pliant. I think the new straps are all padded way too much. They don't make them like they used to!
Hi Jeff
02/24/2009 - 23:41
Here's my 0.02¢ worth .  First, what type of collector are you?  If you are what I'd call a "classic" collector, then only the original will do - be that finish, strap, whatever.  You may have to substitute another strap or buckle until you locate the right one, or save awhile before you can have a factory reburbishment, but your end goal it to return the piece to it's original condition. If you are a "continuation" collector, then you recognize that some original parts (like buckles) may never be found but thats OK because Vacheron still makes replacement items and using them still makes it a Vacheron watch.  So in this case, originality may not be achieved but genuine factory parts and service are used. My third and last characterization is the "contemporary" collector, where the aesthetic is sought but not necessarily from Vacheron.  A proper looking strap or buckle and a finish that pleases your eye is the goal, from wherever and whomever. All types, IMHO, respect the marque but the classic collector may be more likely to keep their pieces in storage, while the contemporary collector may wear them more frequently.  OTOH, the classic piece may retain it's value better...so there are trade-offs. What I learned from my recent experience with a factory refurbishment is to take more control over the process.  Without directions, the technicians will polish or brush deep enough to eliminate any scratches.  If you seek a like-new appearance, then that works.  If you wish to retain what remains of the original finish, then you must tell them so.  I can't hurt to even provide diagrams or pictures of what you are seeking.  When I send my 4178 in, it will be accompanied by specific instructions on finishing to ensure a "classic" restoration . Hope this helps, Dean
Re: I got my estimate and I have some questions
02/25/2009 - 03:32
Hi Jeff, I also think that you shouldn't polish the case unless you want to lose the vintage aspect. Hopefully there are no deep scratches. If its only minor, i would leave it. The same for the dial...no restoration maybe just a little cleaning if required. Leave any aged quality. You can still find some "old/new stock" VC straps around which may not be 1950/60's but may be 70/80's Actually there is someone from Switzerland offering quite a few semi-vintage straps of various sizes on eB*y. you might want to have a look. I would think that watch is 16 or 17mm down to 14mm at the buckle. 14mm tang buckles do occasionally show up. A vintage buckle wauld be really nice but they are very rare unless you buy a watch that already has one. Good luck, Joseph
Cautions regarding strap and buckle:
02/26/2009 - 03:29
First, you should figure out what strap dimensions you want. Your watch probably has a 16mm lug width, in which case it is pretty much a given that it will taper to 14mm. However, if by chance it has an 18mm lug width Vacheron will probably want to give you a strap that tapers to 16mm and a buckle to match, and that combination will look funny on the watch. You should therefore specify that you want a strap only if it has the correct taper. Second, my view is that a modern Vacheron buckle will also tend to overwhelm the watch and won't really be much more authentic than any other buckle would be. I would therefore suggest that you either (1) buy a relatively light generic red gold buckle or (2) find a correct buckle of the original design. (2) is made easier because VC, AP and PP used the same style of buckles back then (or maybe a bit later -- I am confident of my statement for the late '50s - early '60s). I have not hesitated to mix and match brand names in order to get the right style of buckles. Finding red gold will still be difficult, but I'm sending you some advice about it privately. As for polishing, I wouldn't.
Vintage Buckle
02/26/2009 - 18:04
Appropriate buckles do pop up occasionally.  This 14mm NOS pink gold plated buckle is an great match for a period Vacheron watch.
Thank you
02/26/2009 - 23:25
Thanks to everyone who replied to my questions.  I would classify myself as a person who would love to get his hands on an original strap and buckle.  Trust me, I am in no hurry to get it done, so if it takes some time to find them, so be it. However, I wouldn't even know where to begin to look.  I have to admit I am uneducated in these matters.  I wouldn't know a fake from the real thing.  Jeff