How certificates can boost your watch's worth

As watch brands tout their heritage and buyers’ appetite for vintage timepieces grows, a rather fusty old practice is being thrust into the mainstream. Watchmakers hold records on pieces they have produced, which often include a detailed description of the watch when it was made Owners can request “extracts” from these archives — which are not to be confused with the certificate of origin issued to a buyer of a new watch The kind of information supplied, and the name given to these documents, varies by manufacturer Flavia Ramelli, head of Patek Philippe’s historical archives for more than 20 years, says that requests for extracts have “seriously increased” in recent years.

Auction houses and dealers are asking for these papers more often, but so too are individuals keen to learn more about their vintage timepieces, says Ms Ramelli She notes an uptick in requests following Patek Philippe’s grand exhibitions over recent years . More