Vintage Watch Research Resources?

How do you all usually go about researching vintage finds? 

I get as much info as I can off the dial / caseback and start google rabbit-holing, but there must be a more efficient way. Any thoughts? 

Pictured is a nice surprise from this weekend. A 34mm Caravelle manual watch with an Explorer-style dial that I found in a flea market bin for 10 dollars. Would love to more about it, but I've hit a wall. Guessing 1960's. 

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Ranfft Watches is one 

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UnholiestJedi

Ranfft Watches is one 

Oh, cool. I'll check it out, thanks!

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It is all rabbit holes. That's part of the vintage game. And then little bits of information stick in your brain and you begin to know stuff. Like that Caravelle was started in 1962. So, definitely 1960's. The post and comments here have many links that can be useful.

Bulova started the Caravelle line to compete with Timex. Timex had perfected no jewel or minimal jewel movements and were eating into the bottom of the American watch market. Timex claimed the scalp of Elgin in 1968. That year Caravelle became the best selling jeweled watch in the United States.

Caravelle usually had 7 jewel movements, although fully jeweled movements were often available. These were meant to be less expensive watches but with the quality of a Bulova. In the late 1960's many of the movements were outsourced to a Japanese upstart named Citizen. Twenty years later Citizen bought Bulova and Caravelle.

As vintage goes, Bulova and its sub-brands Westfield and Caravelle are low risk. The internet can tell you a lot, but less about the sub-brands.

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Pop the back

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Aurelian

It is all rabbit holes. That's part of the vintage game. And then little bits of information stick in your brain and you begin to know stuff. Like that Caravelle was started in 1962. So, definitely 1960's. The post and comments here have many links that can be useful.

Bulova started the Caravelle line to compete with Timex. Timex had perfected no jewel or minimal jewel movements and were eating into the bottom of the American watch market. Timex claimed the scalp of Elgin in 1968. That year Caravelle became the best selling jeweled watch in the United States.

Caravelle usually had 7 jewel movements, although fully jeweled movements were often available. These were meant to be less expensive watches but with the quality of a Bulova. In the late 1960's many of the movements were outsourced to a Japanese upstart named Citizen. Twenty years later Citizen bought Bulova and Caravelle.

As vintage goes, Bulova and its sub-brands Westfield and Caravelle are low risk. The internet can tell you a lot, but less about the sub-brands.

Great info, thanks. I knew Caravelle was owned by Bulova but didn't realize the connection to Citizen. 

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Porthole

Pop the back

I definitely do that when I'm out of options haha

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88MilesPerHour

I definitely do that when I'm out of options haha

Out of options? If you pop the back, you can check the movement and can date the watch. It tells you everything.

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Porthole

Out of options? If you pop the back, you can check the movement and can date the watch. It tells you everything.

I get what you're saying. Yes, I do that. 

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I picked this up locally the other day too - it's quite similar to yours, with the champagne dial. I've not heard of the brand Bersay, and can't find much online about them. It's a mechanical, says it's Swiss made on the case back. It keeps good time. I like the red seconds hand.

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weathermanx
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I picked this up locally the other day too - it's quite similar to yours, with the champagne dial. I've not heard of the brand Bersay, and can't find much online about them. It's a mechanical, says it's Swiss made on the case back. It keeps good time. I like the red seconds hand.

Beautiful! 

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weathermanx
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I picked this up locally the other day too - it's quite similar to yours, with the champagne dial. I've not heard of the brand Bersay, and can't find much online about them. It's a mechanical, says it's Swiss made on the case back. It keeps good time. I like the red seconds hand.

Again - pop the back. No movement pics, nothing to go on.

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You could ask the folks on mybulova.com

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sathomas

You could ask the folks on mybulova.com

I'll check it out, thanks! This was more of a general question, since I encounter a lot of weird old watches. Just wondering how everyone does their research.

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88MilesPerHour

I'll check it out, thanks! This was more of a general question, since I encounter a lot of weird old watches. Just wondering how everyone does their research.

By popping the back and looking at the movement...

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I agree with @Porthole that anyone researching vintage definitely needs to look inside the case.

Some brands, e.g. Omega, put a lot of helpful information inside the caseback. For example, my Seamaster has the reference number 135.003-62-SC. That tells me not only the specific "model" (135.003) which can be cross-referenced to Omega's own vintage database, but also the year it was manufactured (1962). There is also an icon that identifies the case manufacturer.

Engravings on the movement are also helpful. Movements often have a unique serial number, though sometimes it might be engraved in a location not visible without disassembly. That serial number may be cross-referenced with unofficial databases available on line, and, with some brands, you can use it to query for official information. For example, here what Omega can tell about a watch given its movement serial number (999000012377 in this case).

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But you also have to accept that sometimes the information will be scarce. A lot of Swiss brands went out of business during the quartz crisis in the 1970s, and some of those still around aren't really the same company any more. Records for those watches are probably lost and gone forever. For example, I have watches from Camy (no longer in existence) and Delbana (not the same company) that I know next to nothing about. I can estimate their manufacture date based on the popularity of the styles, but that's about it. But that doesn't detract from enjoying them.