Is it worth buying a watch at a street market?

imageThis watch is an Enicar Automatic Sherpa Superdive. The caseback shows an oyster and pearl in relief, the word “Seapearl” and various other rather worn lettering, including the word “Ultrasonic.” Is it worth buying and restoring a watch like this?

Enicar is one of the many Swiss brands that were thriving until the onset of the quartz revolution in the 1970s. The strange brand name was due to the fact that it was founded in 1913 by Ariste Racine. As someone else had registered the name Racine, Ariste simply spelled his own surname backwards. Enicar, registering it in January 1914.

Founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, the brand went on to make millions of watches, most of which were sold in China, India and Indonesia. The company closed in 1988, and the brand was bought by a Chinese investor who makes new Enicar watches, nothing like the originals, and curiously marked “Enicar 1854”.

As the company was so successful in the 1960s and ’70s, there are a lot of Enicar pieces on the secondhand market, and a lot of fakes, or watches with redials. The watch shown here looks original; it has an interesting rotating inner bezel, operated by the crown at 2 o’clock. The “Ultrasonic” refers to the system that the company used to clean the components.

The cost of having a watch like this restored is around €300 if it’s just a question of cleaning. The problem of buying a watch on a market stall is that you have no idea of what the watch repair specialist is going to find when he opens it. But most people in the watch industry say that if you want to invest, you buy gold or stocks and shares, and not a watch. A vintage Enicar is interesting as a watch and not for its investment value.

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