How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?
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  1. #1
    Member bsshog40's Avatar
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    How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    What kind of info do you go armed with? Your knowledge? A book? Your cell phone on the web? How do you know if you see a swiss made watch, that it's quality or junk? Just wondering as I like old watches that wind or selfwind. I know a lot of the major brands but there are a lot of different names on watches out there that I would never recognize. Also, I would think that it's a little uncouth to try to pry/twist open the back of a watch while your at one of these places to see the movement. What do you think? I have a perfect example. When I'm out of town working, there is a junk shop I like to stop at if I'm close. I picked up a Bulova Spaceview for $5 a while back that only needed the correct battery to get it working. I picked this one up today for $5 also, which I'm not complaining as it is working. It said swiss made on the front and thought might be a good find. But I open the back when I got back to our work apartment and I find a 1j movement. Oh well, gonna clean it up, change the band, and give it to the wife. She likes the old watches too. Lol
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  2. #2
    Member mkws's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    Well, since fleamarkets are my only source of watches, I usually go there armed with a case knife, a case wrench, loupe, the Ranfft archive bookmarked in my phone's browser, and of course, my rather mediocre knowledge acquired through spending time on F11 and reading as many resources as I can- not many of them so far, frankly. And I usually trust my gut feeling about a watch I'm looking at. But the most important thing is not giving in to the wish of buying something just on that fleamarket, oh no. One or two recons must precede the ultimate trip.
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    I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    (...)but that's what mankind is like: they only prize what they no longer possess.
    Erich Maria Remarque

    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

  3. #3
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    +1...I am traveling with a case knife and loupe. I ask before I pop one open though - usually their response is you break it you buy it.

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    Member Addictedtowatches's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    After collecting for a while you realize what is junk and what is decent. I don't carry any tools with me and generally don't go for anything too rough or beaten up. Some good advice is don't just throw your money at anything that says Swiss on the dial. Its always an indicator of origin but not always an indicator of quality. There are plenty of Japanese, American, French and other countries that made watches as well as and sometimes better than their Swiss counterparts.
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  6. #5
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    I don't carry any tools apart from a jewellers loupe but thats actually mostly for looking at silver marks - For watches the things I buy, are so cheap that i won't mind if it doesn't work. If it looks too beaten up I just don't buy it.
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  7. #6
    Member GhentWatch's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    I bring case knife, casewrench, loupe and keys for Oyster-cases.
    I always pop the back off before. (asking ofcourse but most people allow it).
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    Vintage Chronographs and Divers are my thing.

  8. #7
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    I like looking around car boot sales for watches (more of a British thing, but I guess flea market is the US equivalent).
    My approach is too assume everything is junk so don't pay too much, and mostly go by the general appearence and condition rather then worrying about the brand, and then you maybe get a nice surprise when you get home and have a proper look at it and look on google. You will probably miss a few good deals this way, and probably won't have one of those "found a $1000 watch for $5" type stories, but at the same time you are less likely to lose out. Plus if it's clean and attractive looking that usually means you can shift it on eBay for a profit if you decide you don't like it as much when you get back home.
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  9. #8
    Member jackruff's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    research, time and experience.... and if it cost you 5 bucks it's a very cheap lesson....
    Last edited by jackruff; May 28th, 2015 at 13:05.
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    So many watches.....so little time.....

  10. #9
    Member GhentWatch's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by jackruff View Post
    research, time and experience.... and if it cost you 5 bucks it's a very cheap lesson....

    Indeed. And sometimes you have to be a bit off a gambling man. :D
    Vintage Chronographs and Divers are my thing.

  11. #10
    Member mkws's Avatar
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    Re: How do you shop flea markets, junk shops for watches?

    Generally, as to making a gamble, I wouldn't say it is a good idea. Well, when you risk 10, 20 bucks, then it might be, however if you risk more, I'd say that it's not the smartest thing to do. You can of course get lucky, but a bad buy... Well, in my case it would result more in being angry at myself... Probably. Never made a bad purchase. As to making a research before you buy- yes, it is needed, but after you make a recon at the fleamarket. Walk around, look carefully, give a few minutes to each stall with watches. Yes, it will take two or three hours, but it's worth it.
    My first fleamarket purchase of a vintage watch was a silly gamble, which did actually pay off. I went to the fleamarket, with a budget of 70 bucks and a really small knowledge of identifying watches. So, there was this two tone Tissot Antimagnetique (been showing it off at the WRUW thread quite a few times- I'm still bloody proud of that watch)at one stall, and it caught my eye. The fella claimed it was a 1950s oversized model. Well, at 38mm it wasn't really small for a vintage piece. I had no tools, the seller had no tools, so no chance of looking at the movement, however , since back then I was an utter idiot in terms of knowledge of vintage watches, I've negotiated out that 70 bucks price for it, and I bought it. The first thing that happened was that the strap has fallen off. The not-so-witty fellow placed the watch with fixed lug bars on an open ended strap, and used a rubbish glue, which immediately stopped performing its intended function- the strap fell off as soon as I got to my car right after I bought the watch. Then, back at home, I managed to open up the watch, and wrote down the serial. I have compared it with the Tissot serial no. table, which only after the buy have I googled out, and then it was a surprise. Not 1950s but...1939. So, I've signed up for WUS, went to the Tissot forum vintage thread, and there... Another surprise. The combination of oversize and two-tone dial turned out to be really something really uncanny, and the condition- great, considering the age of the piece. An idiot got lucky, one might say. Gambles sometimes pay off, some might say. But I've given much thought to the mere possibility what could have happened if it was a franken. First purchase, and such an embarrassment. So- when you go to fleamarkets, don't make a gamble which can become an expensive lesson. Armed with more knowledge, I returned to the fleamarket a few more times. And I'm telling you, it was a spot of luck to find this piece in the pile of rubbish frankens which accounts for some 80% of what's on the stalls. I got lucky. But someone else might not.
    I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it.
    Edgar Allan Poe

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    George Orwell

    (...)but that's what mankind is like: they only prize what they no longer possess.
    Erich Maria Remarque

    For any inquiries regarding vintage Doxa watches, please read the highlighted text in my vintage Doxa thread. Sorry, but I will not respond to PMs on the matter.

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