It’s impossible to completely cover this in one single “Antique Minute”, but here are several clues:
Open the case’s rear cover and look for the markings “10k”, “14k”, or “18k”. This should be easy to see as it will be impressed into the inside back cover. If one of those markings is visible, then your pocket watch is gold.
If instead you see something like “Guaranteed 10 Years: or “Guaranteed 20 Years”, then your pocket watch is not gold, but rather “gold plate”. And the “Guarantee” does not guarantee that the watch will work for 10 or 20 years. Rather it means that the gold plate will not wear off within 10 or 20 years.
If you do not see a specific gold marking, or do not see the gold plate guarantee, it’s still possible that your pocket watch is gold. We would recommend taking it to a reputable jeweler or gold store and have them test it. The gold acid test takes less than one minute, is usually free, but will most likely leave a blemish on the watch.
WHAT’S IT WORTH? Even if in non-working condition, gold watches can have considerable value, depending upon the gold weight, specific karat, current gold spot price, and the dealer’s spot price discount. However, beware that gold scrappers will only pay for the gold content and not for the watch movement and non-gold parts. So if you allow the dealer to take the watch apart to weigh the gold, and if you are not happy with the cash offer, you better understand that what you’ll get back is the loose parts and not a complete watch.
Mike Ivankovich is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Home Downsizing Expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" Radio Show that airs live on Friday mornings, from 9:00-10:00 AM, on WBCB 1490 AM, in the Greater Philadelphia PA area. Or you can listen on the Internet at: www.WBCB1490.com
You can also visit: www.AskMikeTheAppraiser.com