The Arnex Pocket Watch: History, Values and Vintage Models

A popular brand in the United States between 1970 and 1990, the Arnex pocket watch has its origin in Switzerland. When the Arnex pocket watch first arrived in the market, its main selling point was an extremely affordable price. In its early days, the watch reportedly sold millions of units because its price favored people of all economical classes.

Today, although the Arnex pocket watch is not particularly too valuable, its vintage models are still appealing to collectors. In this detailed guide, we will take a deeper look at the history and value of the Arnex pocket watch. We will also show you different vintage models of the Arnex pocket watch.

The History of the Arnex Pocket Watch

The company behind the Arnex Pocket watch dates back to 1971. Its founder – Claude Wollman – reportedly started the company with an estimated 50,000 Swiss Francs.

Claude’s goal was to sell affordable pocket watches to customers residing in the US. His company manufactured the watches in Switzerland and shipped them to the United States.

Claude Wollman’s company – Arnex – focused on using cheap materials like metal dials, acrylic crystals, and base metal cases to make pocket watches. Arnex also took advantage of the cheap Unitas 6497 movements. Surprisingly, what Arnex considered cheap movements – the Unitas 6497 – later became the workhorse for a variety of luxury watch brands.

The business of shipping pocket watches to the US was profitable for Arnex until the Swiss Franc lost its value in 1974. The company struggled until 1995 when it was prohibited from conducting business after failing to pay the necessary registration fees.

After receiving the prohibition notice from the Swiss Official Gazzette of Commerce, Arnex floated around for several years without making any major moves. During this period, other wealthier French and Swiss companies purchased and sold the company at will.

Arnex caught its next major break when it was purchased by J.P. Pingouin Co, Hunsberger & Cie. This allowed the company to re-enter the cheap watch market with enough capital to re-initiate its operations.

Through various mergers, Arnex finally became part of the brand Lucien Piccard. This kickstarted the company’s new operations in the field of producing private label watches.

Any company that could meet a pre-set minimum order was allowed to purchase watches produced by Arnex and then put its branding and labels on the watches. Included on numerous similar – and identical – Arnex watch designs include big brand names like Lorenz, Le Jour, Hallmark, Kaltron, and Lucien Piccard.

Determining the Value of the Arnex Pocket Watch

The value of Arnex pocket watches varies depending on a variety of factors. Below, we will take a deeper look at the main factors that affect the price of an Arnex pocket watch.

Vintage ARNEX Pocket Watch Incabloc 17 Jewels Swiss
Vintage ARNEX Pocket Watch Incabloc 17 Jewels Swiss (Source: Ebay)

1.    Jewels

When it comes to vintage pocket watches, the term Jewels refers to the industrial-grade gemstones utilized as bearings for the gears. These reduce friction, which, in turn, reduces the subsequent wear on the pocket watch’s inner mechanism.

The higher the number of jewels on a pocket watch, the higher its value. The most expensive vintage pocket watches feature as many as 25 jewels.

As noted earlier, Arnex was focused on cutting the costs of producing its pocket watches. By reducing the cost of manufacture, the company was hoping to ensure its watches reached the United States at a very affordable price.

For this reason, you should expect the Arnex pocket watches to have a low jewel count. However, in some rare cases, you may come across an Arnex pocket watch with a higher-than-average jewel count – online, the Arnex pocket watch with the highest number of jewels has a total of 17.

2.    Wristwatch Conversion

Some Arnex pocket watches have been converted into wristwatches. When converting pocket watches into wristwatches, some companies often use better casing.

When manufacturing its vintage pocket watches, Arnex used low-quality steel or pewter. Arnex made its pocket watches with chrome plating that would flake after a short period – for this reason, you will always find the vintage watches from the 70s and 80s with imperfections.

If during conversion into a wristwatch the Arnex pocket watch ends up in a high-quality casing, its value often goes up.

3.    Condition

The condition of an Arnex pocket watch can increase or decrease its overall value. Below, we will look at the condition ratings that pocket watch collectors often use when purchasing vintage watches:

Poor Condition

An Arnex pocket watch in this condition may feature a cracked dial, heavy wear, missing hands, fails to close and open correctly, is missing glass, and features dents on its case. Such a pocket watch will always have a very low value. The only time the watch may have a higher value is when it is made from rare caliber movements and/or precious metals.

Average Condition

An Arnex pocket watch in this condition will feature average wear, small shallow dents, small hairline cracks on its dial, and scratched but not broken glass. Such a watch can be repaired by a watchmaker – this can restore the watch’s value

Good Condition

For an Arnex pocket watch to be classified in this condition, it will need to have light wear, have its case details intact, have zero dents, and have normal usage signs. Such a watch can be easily repaired.

Excellent Condition

An Arnex pocket watch in this condition will hardly have any wear, will be clean inside and outside, and won’t have any dents. If the Arnex watch is made from silver or gold, you could have a very valuable vintage watch on your hands.

4.    Age

When it comes to Arnex pocket watches, the difference between the age of vintage pieces is only about 10 to 25 years. This is because the company was producing pocket watches under its brand name between 1971 when it was founded and 1995 when it was prohibited from conducting business.

The older the Arnex pocket watch, the more vital is its condition, and all other aspects of valuing. In most cases, however, the older the Arnex pocket watch, the higher its value in the market. A working Arnex pocket watch made in 1971 will have a higher value than a pocket watch produced in 1995 by the same brand.

5.    Rarity

When it comes to rarity, Arnex pocket watches are generally differentiated by their movement. Arnex pocket watches utilizing the Unitas 6498 or 6497 movement are generally rare – this makes these watches more valuable.

Also, the design of the watch may affect its value. For example, Arnex pocket watches sitting in the 44 mm case are rarer than those sitting in the 50 mm case – this makes the former pocket watches more expensive.

6.    Weight of the Watch

The weight of an Arnex Pocket watch can mean that it has a sophisticated movement or is made of valuable materials. However, it is worth noting that this is not always the case.

Before assuming that each heavy Arnex pocket watch is valuable, you must perform a thorough investigation on the watch. This will help you confirm that the seller is not using the watch’s weight to overcharge you.

7.    Case Design

Most vintage watch collectors favor Arnex pocket watches with interesting cases. For this reason, an Arnex pocket watch with an interesting picture on its case may have a higher value than one with a plain casing.

It is only in cases where the watch with a plain case features other qualities that make it stand out – say, better materials or better movements – that it may have a higher cost than the watch with an impressive case design.

Arnex Pocket Watch Vintage Models and Their Price

Now that you know the factors that often increase or decrease the cost of a vintage Arnex pocket watch, we will go ahead and show you the vintage models of the watch. This section will take a deeper look at the model’s features and cost:

1.    Hunter & Dog Cover 17 Jewels Arnex Pocket Watch

VINTAGE SWISS ARNEX 17J MECHANICAL HUNTER CASE POCKET WATCH
VINTAGE SWISS ARNEX 17J MECHANICAL HUNTER CASE POCKET WATCH (Source: Ebay)

This vintage model features a hunter wearing traditional clothing on its case. The hunter is holding a bow and arrow and has 2 dogs with him. The pocket watch has 17 jewels.

The seller reports that this watch is currently running although he/she is not very sure that it can keep perfect time. The vintage Arnex pocket watch retails at $34 online.

2.    Mid-Century Stoppuhr Arnex Pocket Watch

Vintage Mid Century Swiss Arnex stopwatch, Stoppuhr, in working state, rare.
Vintage Mid Century Swiss Arnex stopwatch, Stoppuhr, in working state, rare. (Source: Ebay)

The Stoppuhr model was reportedly designed as a stopwatch. The main dial on the Arnex pocket watch runs from 0 to 60. The vintage model has a small dial that runs from 0 to 30 and features a smaller secondhand.

The watch’s front face indicates that it has 7 jewels. Although the number of jewels in this vintage model is much less compared to the Hunter and Dog model, the watch has a higher value, retailing at $59.42.

The higher price for the vintage model could come from the fact that the watch is very rare. Arnex made very few watches featuring the Stoppuhr model. Also, the watch is labeled as unisex – the fact that it can be used by both men and women could increase its cost.

3.    Wind Up Railroad Arnex Pocket Watch

Vintage Arnex Pocket Watch Wind Up Railroad 17 Jewels Incabloc Swiss Made Runs
Vintage Arnex Pocket Watch Wind Up Railroad 17 Jewels Incabloc Swiss Made Runs (Source: Ebay)

Dating back to between 1970 and 1979, this railroad-themed pocket watch is labeled as a unisex product. Its case is made of base metal and features a silver color.

The watch’s main dial runs from 0 to 12. The main dial also shows minutes, with the minutes running on top of the hours’ indicator. The vintage pocket watch has a secondhand above the 6 O’clock position.

The watch seller reports that it is fully functional. The fact that it carries 17 jewels and is in impressively good condition makes it pricey. Online, the vintage Arnex pocket watch has a price tag of $180 attached to it.

4.    Vintage Arnex Pocket Watch for the Blind

Arnex Pocket watch for the blind
Arnex Pocket watch for the blind (Source: Ebay)

This vintage pocket watch model carries a cover that allows blind users to tell time. Although the blind dial is the watch’s defining factor, it also has a normal dial carrying 12 hours – this makes it possible for other people to tell the time.

The Arnex pocket watch features a chrome-plated case and a porcelain enamel dial. The seller notes that the vintage model uses a Unitas UT 6445 ½ line movement. The watch’s gears feature 17 jewels that reduce friction and minimize wear and tear.

The seller reports that the vintage model can be considered a “new old stock”. Being in perfect working condition and carrying more features than the average Arnex pocket watch, this vintage model comes at a higher price – online, the vintage model is retailing at $275.

5.    Gold-Filled Arnex Pocket Watch

VINTAGE ARNEX SWISS MADE 17 JEWELS INCABLOC ON A 14KT. GOLD FILDED WATCH CHAIN
VINTAGE ARNEX SWISS MADE 17 JEWELS INCABLOC ON A 14KT. GOLD FILDED WATCH CHAIN (Source: Ebay)

This vintage model was manufactured in 1970. The watch’s case is made of base metal. However, to make this vintage model more aesthetically appealing, Arnex used gold color on its case and dial.

The watch features 17 jewels and uses a much rare movement known as the Ancre De Precision. The Unisex pocket watch is selling at $149.99.

6.    15 Jewel Wind Up Pocket Watch

ARNEX VINTAGE 15J WIND UP POCKET WATCH GREAT RUNS COWBOY SCENE
ARNEX VINTAGE 15J WIND UP POCKET WATCH GREAT RUNS COWBOY SCENE (Source: Ebay)

Boasting a luxurious design, this 15-jewel wind-up vintage model features a white dial that shows 12 hours and 2 large hands – one to show the hour and the other to show minutes. Above the 6 o’clock position, the watch features a smaller dial that runs from 0 to 60 – featuring a secondhand, this smaller dial is designed to indicate the number of seconds.

Although Arnex used cheap materials to make the watch’s case, its gold color makes it stand out in front of the buyer’s eyes. The watch has a lid that closes its face – this has protected its glass, helping the vintage Arnex pocket watch retain a new appearance.

With 15 jewels to reduce friction and protect its gears from wear, the seller reports that the watch is still in perfect working condition. The Arnex pocket watch features a price tag of $85.

7.    Vintage Arnex Pocket Music Watch

Arnex Pocket Music Watch - Gold Plate - with Horse, Water, Maiden Automatons
Arnex Pocket Music Watch – Gold Plate – with Horse, Water, Maiden Automatons (Source: Ebay)

A rare vintage watch, the vintage Arnex Pocket Music Watch is gold plated, features Arabic numerals, and has a mechanical movement. The watch dates back to between 1970 and 1979.

The seller reports that the vintage model starts readily and is capable of running until it is unwound. Being 40 to 50 years old, however, the seller notes there is no guarantee that the watch can offer maximum accuracy – per day, however, the vintage model is reported to achieve a 10-second accuracy.

The watch’s defining features include music and extraordinary automatons. When the watch’s alarm triggers, the watch plays “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” The seller notes that users can make the watch play the song by pressing its rear button.

This vintage model of the Arnex pocket watch is one of the most expensive we found online. The watch has a price tag of $3,300.55 attached to it.

8.    Arnex Quartz in Original Packaging

Unused Pre-Owned Arnex Quartz Gold Tone Pocket Watch in original box
Unused Pre-Owned Arnex Quartz Gold Tone Pocket Watch in original box (Source: Ebay)

Still sitting in its original packaging, this vintage Arnex pocket watch model features a yellow gold color. The watch features a luxury design that features a window for showing the day and date.

The vintage pocket watch model features an analog readout that is encased in a face with a diameter of 30 mm. The watch utilizes quartz movement. The pre-owned but unused watch features a price tag of $41.40.

9.    Kennedy, JFK & RFK Memorial Presentation Pocket Watch

RARE ARNEX KENNEDY JFK & RFK MEMORIAL PRESENTATION POCKET WATCH IN ORIGINAL CASE
RARE ARNEX KENNEDY JFK & RFK MEMORIAL PRESENTATION POCKET WATCH IN ORIGINAL CASE (Source: Ebay)

Featuring a bust of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy on its back cover, this vintage Arnex pocket watch also has a shield and the United States flag at the center of its dial. The vintage model is decorated with plant motifs and has a bezel edge.

The dial on the pocket watch utilizes Arabic gold numerals that show the hours – these sit inside blue lentils. The watch utilizes dots to show minutes.

The secondhand is attached separately above the 6 O’clock position. Featuring 17 jewels, the watch retails at $195.99.

Conclusion

This detailed guide discusses the Arnex pocket watch, showing you the origin of the brand, its history, and the changes that the parent company underwent through the years. Founded to provide the cheapest timepieces to customers in the United States, Arnex’s dream seems to have ended when the Swiss Franc lost its value.

The timepieces that Arnex had produced when it was fully operational, however, seem to have gained value over the years as they acquired the vintage status. We found a vintage Arnex pocket watch selling at a price of over $3000. This guide, however, gives you the tips you need to use to ensure you are not paying more than a vintage pocket watch from Arnex deserves.

We hope that we have answered all the questions you may have about Arnex pocket watches. If you feel you need more information about the vintage timepieces manufactured by Arnex, leave a comment below. We will respond to your question as soon as possible.

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