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Condition of Watches
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  Condition of Watches

Pretty complicated

to characterize  the condition of watches. A pocket watch just worn for wedding or christening ceremony, but else optimally stored and serviced for 200 years may be "as new", even if it has got some patina. Important is: with minor effort it can be restored to the state it had when delivered - if desired.

A modern watch is expected to feature perfect surfaces on movement and case, although even very expensive watches have sometimes signs of manufacturing.

There are no universal bench marks. From some sellers only items specified as mint or near mint are acceptable. A more detailed specification is necessary for online business, because the buyer can't take a watch into his hand. Therefore we suggest a watch having the grade "2" in every aspect as good and thus an acceptable collectors item. Our grades characterize, how severe a flaw is, and which effort is required to repair it.

Small Print

The grades given in the presentations are no guaranteed features. We only try to describe the watch as precisely as possible.
   Anyway, we always try to find a solution for problems arising between seller, buyer, and us as auctioneer.

General meaning of grades

Grades are given separately for case, band, dial, and movement. Facts which cannot be characterised by these grades are described in detail. Generally the grades have the following meaning:

0: As new or mint; only unavoidable but chemically removable patina, or signs of servicing, which according to the age of the watch even occur with very careful servicing. Take into account that a watch, having left the factory 200 years ago, looked not as perfect as a modern one. Also finest scratches as usually appearing after rather scarce usage will not affect the grade.

1: Near mint; only minor and easily removable flaws, as already happening with careful usage, storage, and servicing.

2: Good condition; slightly detracting drawbacks like deeper scratches, small dents, light wear, and mountig scratches due to normal servicing.

3: Fair condition; obvious flaws, which can be repaired with reasonable effort, or which not detract the appearance too much.

4: Poor condition; severe and only difficult to repair flaws, or poor done restoration. It is necessary to love a watch featuring grade 4 in every aspect.

5: Bad condition; definitly scrap material. Anyway, a grade-5 watch from Breguet may be more attractive than a noname grade-0 watch.



Minor parts of the case are not rated. For instance crowns or spring bars are easy to replace. Only if such parts differ strongly from the condition of the case, it will affect the grade.

C0: No detracting flaws, only finest scratches, removable by a light polish. Also uniform discoloration according the age will not affect the grade. If opening marks are present, they must be invisible if the case is closed. Enamel cases must have a perfect surface. Water proof features specified by the manufacturer are (even with C0) not guaranteed.

C1: Very nice appearance; only minor signs of usage and commom opening marks, easily removable, no obvious dents. Faint brassing only where it almost can't be prevented, e.g, at sharp edges or pendant and bow of pocket watches. Enamel cases may just have faint scratches or abrasion marks, but no hairlines or chips.

C2: Nice appearance; deaper scratches, small dents, obvious wear of patterns and opening marks, minor brassing. Enamel cases may have faint hairlines or tiny, nearly invisible chips.

C3: Reasonable appearance; obvious scratches and dents, easily repairable cracks, patterns partially worn down to the ground, gold (or other) plating with evident brassing. On enamel cases obvious cracks and/or chips.

C4: Restoration necessary; poorly done reapairs  (e.g. soft soldering), case distorted. Enamel surface damaged to larger extent.

C5: The case has just material value.


As it could be important, depending on kind and age of the watch, it is mentioned whether the whole band or only the buckle can be idientified as genuine. Metal bands are rated like cases. Leather-, plastic- or textile bands are rated as follows:

B0: Never worn.

B1: Slightly distorted by occasional usage.

B2: Undamaged but obviously distorted, e.g. at the buckle.

B3: Evident wear, but still ready to use.

B4: Ready to be replaced.

B5: Not present or without any value.


The dial is the face of the watch and is accordingly rated. But it should be pointed out that very old dials already had flaws when leaving the factory, e.g. a not perfect border or minor spots on the surface. Of course it makes a difference whether a damage is visible or hidden by the bezel.

D0: No flaws in the visible area or only production related drawbacks. Just minor abrasion marks in the covered area.

D1: Metal: just uniform discoloration, few hardly visible scratches. Enamel: faint scratches or abrasion marks in the visible area, more evident damages only in the hidden area.

D2: Metal: slight spotting, minor corrosion marks, fine scratches. Enamel: hardly distracting hairlines, small chips only in the invisible area.

D3: Metal: detracting spots and corrosion marks, evident scratches. Enamel: evident cracks, but only small chips in the visible area.

D4: Restoration necessary or poorly done.

D5: Without value, must be replaced.


For each movement we check 
  • the winding mechanism
  • the balance for sufficient amplitude in 3 positions with fully wound mainspring
  • the balance staff and -rim for proper oscillation
  • the hairspring for distortion
  • all additional features
If a watch passes these checks, cleaning, lubricating, and in worst cases polishing some pivots will make the watch properly running. Further tests would only be possible at unacceptable costs. If one or the other test fails, it will be mentioned in the description.

These checks allow only uncertain statements about the service condition. A very recent service can be noticed and will be mentioned in the condition description. If there are any bills about it or if it was made by my watchmaker, even the date is included. Moreover the timing machine gives information whether a service is recommended or even urgently necessary, and this will also be mentioned. If a remark is missing (as in most cases), the watch is ready for use, but it is impossible to predict, when the next service becomes necessary.

More important is the appearence of the movement, because it is much more difficult to repair damages of surfaces like scratches and stain.

M0: As new or mint; only unavoidable but chemically removable patina. Signs of servicing, which according to the age of the watch even occur with very careful servicing, e.g. distortion of screwheads, which is nearly invisible or easily repaired.

M1: Only faint scratches on plates, obvious but not detracting distortions of screwheads, faint or easily removable corrosion spots.

M2: Scratches and/or corrosion damages, which only slightly detract the appearance or are easily removable, like e.g. on polished steel parts. Obvious scratches on screwheads.

M3: Detracting scratches and/or corrosion spots. Even minor surface damages on decorated parts will lead to M3, as it is difficult to remove them.

M4: Rather ugly damages, which cannot be repaired with reasonable effort and costs.

M5: Without value; by chance only a source for spare parts.

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Dr. Roland Ranfft
Poststr. 32a
26388 Wilhelmshaven
phone +49 (0)4423 9849691

email:  info@ranfft.de
Last update:  01-22-2020