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When it comes to luxury watches, Ebay says “I guarantee it”

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When it comes to the world of pre-owned watches, the advice is often to buy the seller, not the watch. In other words, know what you’re looking for, and then get yourself to a place where you can trust the seller.  This is great if you can find a local source, such as via your local get-together watch group.  If that’s not a source, you may end up heading to eBay to find your next watch.  If you’re hunting for a luxury watch, their just-announced program will be of interest to you.

How to buy a vintage watch

I buy old cars, cameras and watches. I buy these things for the aesthetics, often for the value, and occasionally for the story behind them. Sometimes all three criteria converge like the time I bought Faith Hill’s 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser for a good price. At least I was told it was Faith’s.

Those who read about recent watch auctions and still don’t wear a watch, will not understand this story. That’s because buying vintage watches is not a spectator sport. You have to wear one. You have to love its age, its imperfections and you occasionally you have to get fooled.

Because of this, I will try to give you some of my general guidelines I use to browse and buy.

Know what you like.

This really is the most important point when you first start looking at old watches.  Don’t let someone tell you what you should buy or like. Don’t be the person who buys a watch because you think you should have that brand and model.

I couldn’t stop looking at WW2 military watches when I first discovered the world of vintage. The military watches had incredible stories that were partially revealed by the engravings from previous owners.

What do you like? Consider the dial color, the case size, the case material and color or even the functions. Know what you like and your search becomes more productive.

Narrow your hunt to a specific area.

I’m not saying collect only one watch, but consider categories of interest to help you deepen your knowledge of watches.  For instance, some enthusiasts only buy Seiko’s like the founder of WatchRecon.

Another approach would be to collect only watches with specific movements.  Chronographs offer this options. The Valjoux movements are prolific and can be found in many brands, cases and dial designs. This collector has an incredible collection of jump hour watches from the 70s. Narrowing your approach allows your knowledge to grown deeper and not as wide.  This will give you some anchor points to build onto your own research and shopping skills.

Know the market for what you like.

So, what is the market for vintage watches anyway and when does a watch become vintage?  This is the fun part. Looking at the sold watches on eBay is a good place to start. Auction houses can also show you the very high end of what the market can tolerate. I can learn a lot about the retail prices of vintage watches by finding online retailers too.  When you see what an online retailer is asking for a watch, just know that they didn’t pay that much for it.  Use this information to help you know how to approach private sellers.

Know who will fix it when you need it repaired.

If you are trying to buy vintage watches, then consider knowing where you’ll take it to be repaired. A way to get a little more time out of your watch before a service is to buy one in the very best condition you can find and afford.

I remember taking two vintage watches into a jewelry store and wanting them fixed. One was a yard-sale-find and the other one was my dad’s watch he wore when I was a kid.  Both watches could be repaired for more than they were both worth.

So, here’s a story I did a story about watchmakers. If you don’t want to use a certified watchmaker, consider sending a watch back to the manufacturer for a repair estimate.  Swatch has a repair facility in the States for its brands like Hamilton, Longines, Omega, Rado, etc.  Ultimately, one of the best resources would be a trusted friend referral based on their experience.

Learn, look, buy, sell and repeat.

Some of us have trusted retailers and friends who have vintage watches.  This is great.  Learn as much as you can from your friends by putting your hands on as many watches as you can.  This tactile understanding will give you more confidence to buy online where case condition, weight and quality are only as good as the photograph.

eBay is the obvious place to look, but be cautious. Consider only buying from those you’ve interacted with and don’t be afraid to scrutinize their feedback.  My kids have made fun of me and my early eBay watch buys.  I’ve had the watches fall apart as I unwrap the package. This is the less desirable way to learn.

Here are some places to look and learn.  Buy at your own risk and make sure you understand the return policy.

There’s no perfect way to buy vintage watches. Let us know what you learn and please be willing to add other ideas in the comment section below.

Help with Hurricane Harvey relief and get a prototype watch in the bargain

While there seems to be another hurricane blowing in off the Atlantic, there’s no doubting the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has already done.  There are a variety of fund raisers out there, and avenues for you to donate to help the relief efforts.  We were just made aware of an eBay auction that may be of interest to you.  CGA is offering up this prototype watch – which, unless you’re a watch reviewer or otherwise in the business, you’d likely never see.  So, do some good, and get a watch that none of your buddies have at the same time.  Auction ends on September 10th; bid at the time of this writing is $810.  ebay

On Labor Day, An American Classic

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As today is Labor Day, I thought we could take a look at a former American powerhouse of watch manufacture – the Elgin Watch Company.

(And before I go to0 far, credit needs to be given to ElginWatches and the large auction site for the info I was able to find.)  Elgin started manufacturing pocket watches right after the Civil War ended, and their very first model was most definitely a working watch – it was certified for railroad use.

DPHMI Black Stealth Knowledge Skeez

dphmi_blackstealth-thumb.jpgAhem… excuse me, is that a Panerai? Hell no, it’s a hunk of crap, my good man.

Check out this limited edition wristwatch from DPHMI called the Black Stealth Knowledge. It looks like an Officine Panerai wristwatch. The case has an almost identical look to that of Panerai watches. It looks pretty good to me. It allows less affluent buyers to have the look of a Panerai without the price tag. In fact the price tag is only $199 US and it is not a knockoff. It even has an automatic movement like the real thing.

DPHMI Black Stealth Knowledge Watch [PROFESSIONAL WATCHES]

eBay Scam Alert

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An interesting WatchUSeek post that can help us all on the ‘Bay:

I am currently selling a fairly expensive watch (>$1000) on eBay as a Buy It Now item. Here is an email I received from a potential buyer with zero feedback:

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It seems very suspicious. But I do not want to alienate a genuine customer. What kind of questions might I ask to make sure this is not a scam? Is a confirmed Paypal account enough?

(I should specify that in my listing I state that I ship CONUS/Canada only)

Umm…. yes. That’s a massive scam and it’s why I seriously doubt I’ll be using eBay anymore. I tried to sell a phone last month and I got four separate winning bidders from Nigeria and one from Canada when I said I’d only ship to the US. eBay, I’m afraid to say, is now useless.

Is this an eBay scam? [Watchuseek Watch Forums]

Aeromatic Sale

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I hate myself for doing this, but people are silly and they’ll do anything, so here’s a link to the Tauchmeister sale page. Are these watches any good? Not specifically, but they’re cheap and they’re all on sale so you don’t have to fight a bunch of n00bs on Ebay. Purchase with the caveat that you’re buying for looks, not build quality, and be happy.

Prodcut Page [Tauchmeister]

Review – Tauchmeister 1937 Diver

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Ah, Aeromatic 1912. You enthrall us all with your magical timepieces. Many an eBay newbie has been drawn to your bold lines and unusual styling, as well they should. You’re taking chances, I suppose, and the only thing folks can say bad about you is that you’re not really a German watch.

That said, please welcome the Tauchmeister 1937 – Diver Craft 1000M Helium-Safe GMT Retrograde. Wow, that was a mouthful.

A diver, to be sure. A big diver—46mm with a 270 mm strap. It has a Citizen GP01 quartz movement and a unique, if unfortunately designed, retrograde GMT hand.

But what lies behind that handsome diver logo and bold orange? Nothing we haven’t seen before and won’t see again.

It Begins – The Attack of the Hublot Knock-Offs

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Say what you want about this watch, but don’t buy it. Astute reader Einars found this cruddy Big Bang knock off on the ‘Bay. This means that some Chinese factory has geared up enough to pump these out en masse in less than, say, 9 months. Astounding.

Some pertinent specs? Sure!

3 registers are adjustable

date window

leather strap

automatic mov.

meansurement: about 45mm in dimaeter

Works in good order.

Registers are adjustable! Sign me up!

eBay: GREAT 3 REGISTERS SILVER AUTO MEN’S WATCH – 45MM DIAL (item 8920345202 end time Apr-03-06 20:43:07 PDT)

Review: Sorna Bullhead Chronograph

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In an effort to find an inexpensive, vintage chronograph, I’ve been hunting on Ebay for Sorna watches. The Sorna brand, which was once a relatively powerful figure in the mechanical industry – laid to waste, obviously, by the flood of cheap quartz pieces in the 1980s – is now being used to flog those selfsame cheap quartz pieces that I had no interest in. The only other Sorna piece I could find, then, was a nasty world time watch that looked like Captain America had just gotten over some constipation. Therefore, I was stuck with considering Jacky Ickx bullhead chronos. Instead of a Jacky Ickx, however, I just picked up just an “Icky” Sorna chronograph that has a certain, if dubious, charm.