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How important are box and papers when purchasing a watch?

One question I get asked very often is whether my watches come with box and papers. When you first start collecting watches one way of ensuring a watch is legitimate and well cared for is to buy it with all of it's original documents and in some cases you'll be lucky enough to find one which even has reciepts from any servicing or battery changes it has had.

The first thing to consider is the age of the watch. Back in the mid 1900s, a lot of people would have purchased quality watches as a reliable timekeeping tool not to add to a collection or as investments. With no real intention to store away or sell on there was probably no major concern for keeping the box and original paperwork. Because of this I believe you have to be realistic with what to expect, as if you are looking for a 50s watch in superb condition with full set then you will spend a long time looking and pay a hefty premium. Also vintage watches were not faked as much as modern ones so although parts often get changed on vintage watches, usually after a few simple checks you can be sure it's authentic without any original paperwork. Also without modern technology the fakes were quite obvous and terribly made.

The best thing to do with older timepieces is to buy from a seller who is trusted with a good reputation. If you are looking for an investment vintage piece that is of paticularly high value, it may however be worth waiting and spending the extra for one with all the accessories.

With modern watches it's a different story. Unfortunately some companies are now producing excellent fakes where even the movements, number etchings, dial, paperwork and boxes are all replicated to a very high level. If you are buying a heavily faked watch such as a Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster or Cartier Santos for example then the box and papers are of much higher importance.

If you are looking to buy one of these types of watches, as earlier stated buy from a trusted seller, however if you are buying privately you need to know what the box and paperwork should be like and check all the numbers match up. Because of this, if you eventually sell it a sale will be much easier with these accessories as people often wonder how someone would lose the accessories of an expensive watch and instantly doubt authenticity or provinence.

It's also fair to assume if someone has kept the accessories in good condition they have probably cared for the watch well are more likely to have had the watch serviced regularly.

It's important to note that a box is nice to have but without paperwork does not really prove anything. Boxes can be purchased on there own on auction sites relatively cheaply so if there is no paperwork then do not assume the box is original tot hat watch. If it is from the correct period and for that model of watch it makes no difference.

Paperwork however with the matching serial numbers cannot be easily purchased online as each warranty card/certificate is specific to every watch sold.. Therefore if you are presented with a watch that has the correct papers this should be enough to banish any doubts. Ideally you'd get the box with it but at least if you have papers the option to purchase a box after is there.

It's great to find watches with box and papers but don't miss out on a great timepiece at a good price from a trusted seller just because of box and papers.

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