The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

Thread: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

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  1. #1
    Member maxw's Avatar
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    Question The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    Hi,
    I'm reletively new to buying vintage watches, its a new interest for me but I'm I am enjoying very much. I have about 10 watches at the moment but I seem to have many problems when buying from eBay and wondering if these issues are normal and maybe I am expecting too much from a vintage watch

    So far the issues I've had are:
    - Highly inaccurate time keeping, -20 mins / day.
    - Watch said was in good condition but had a poorly refinished dial with uneven markers and glue still on face, couldn't see this in the pics as they were bad quality.
    - Watch arrived with cracked crystal
    - Rotor on automatic loose, rattles and scrapes case when rotating.

    Of course I am only buying from sellers with good feedback and I read the descriptions very carefully but it seems really hit and miss even when being careful.

    Is this normal or have I just been unlucky or am I expecting a vintage watch to be too perfect?

  2. #2
    Omega Forum Moderator emmanuelgoldstein's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    When buying from eBay you have to take into account that the watch will more then likely need to be serviced. You should factor in another $150 for servicing when bidding on a watch. When I buy from eBay I tend to make sure that the seller has either a return policy or they warrant the watch to be free from such defects. Remember in shipping the package is going to be thrown around quite a bit. If it is not wrapped securely you are definitely going to be receiving a damaged watch. I received a watch last Friday where the mainspring was damaged in shipping. The seller had no problem with me returning it to be fixed. I got the watch back yesterday and it's running beautifully. Seller even refunded all of my shipping costs.
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  3. #3
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by maxw View Post
    1. Highly inaccurate time keeping, -20 mins / day.
    2. Watch said was in good condition but had a poorly refinished dial with uneven markers and glue still on face, couldn't see this in the pics as they were bad quality.
    3. Watch arrived with cracked crystal
    4. Rotor on automatic loose, rattles and scrapes case when rotating.

    Is this normal or have I just been unlucky or am I expecting a vintage watch to be too perfect?
    Hi maxw,
    part - part.
    As for 1. You can't expect an old watch to work well, unless it has been cleaned and serviced. Depending on Your definition of "vintage", we are likely talking about complicated movements with a lot of parts moving and rubbing against each other, that are 50 years or older. Such a movement needs to be taken apart and cleaned, and lubricated from time to time - at least every 10 years. In the old times, the oils being used even had a tendeny to age and literally become thick. Thus it is quite normal, that an old watch doesn't run too well. Unfortunately, the value of a watch doesn't really differ much, whether it's serviced or not. Thus, normally a watch in ebay is not or not properly serviced - it just doesn't pay. Be carefull also with certain overseas sellers, that claim that a watch is serviced - I have bought a couple of those, they had just a superficial cleaning, but it was not done properly.

    2.,3. and 4.: Depends on the small print in the offer... but I would expect a loose rotor or any other obvious damage to be mentioned in the description. Send it back or give them a negative feedback. My experience is, that most professional dealers are very courtous and I have received a partial refund in two cases already. Either they are so afraid of negative feedback, or they had a bad conscience, or it was just nice people. In general my experience in ebay is good.

    I don't know if You are just unlucky. But don't expect to find the real great deal on ebay, those times are over. Only in few cases I have bought really nice watches at comparably low prices (no "million dollar lottery tickets", just a little below average price), in general when there were only few and bad pictures, so I took quite a risk each time. Practically all my watches receive a service, when I decide to wear them. Often this costs more than the watch itself.

    Watch out for fake or repainted dials - in 99% of all cases, the watch is ruined and not worth anything anymore. And there are dubious "experts of the Dremel tool", polishing away any edge or brushing that ever added to the face of the watch. Some are even "proud" of it - look for "well-polished" in certain indian ebay offers.

    Best regards,
    Olof

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  5. #4
    Member LouS's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    I'd recommend making good pics a minimum, non-negotiable requirement when any significant outlay of cash is involved, on eBay or elsewhere. If the posted pics are suboptimal, ask the seller for more, and request close ups of specific items you need to check. If you don't get the pics, then pass on it -- there will be another watch you like along shortly.

    For example, one of my pet peeves is when the seller positions the automatic rotor in such a way that it obscures in part or in whole the stamping on the movement. I will ask for a picture of the stamping on the winding bridge (in the case of my favorite El Primeros). Recently, it revealed that the seller was using a rotor stamped '31 jewels' to conceal a 17 jewel movement. Deal off!

    Which leads me to another item: talk to the seller, preferably live. Ask about obvious flaws, or specific isses like the ones you itemized. If the seller is forthright and doesn't try to deny a replacement crown or something like that, that's very reassuring for me. If the seller keeps insisting 'all authentic' and so forth, then I don't know what other surprises await me, and I might drift on to consider another watch.

    Finally, you can't anticipate every single flaw, but you will get more savvy with time. If you've put down a pile of chips on a disappointment, and you can't return it, that's called tuition, and you have educated yourself not to make that mistake again. I've paid plenty of tuition in my time!

    my 2 cents.

  6. #5
    Member peacemaker885's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    I've been lucky, so far. I guess its hit or miss but I only buy from 100% positive feedback sellers. I'm a cheapie collector - if a watch goes over $20, I move on unless I really really like the piece. The low cost on investment gives me the guts to open up the watch if there's something wrong with it Plus I have my neighborhood watchmaker if I mess things up!
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  7. #6
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    The term "caveat emptor" was developed to describe eBay

    I find most vendors honest and willing to resolve any unexpected disappointments. But I don't complain about marginal problems and am never nasty when dealing with disappointments.

    ... and I never believe 'serviced' unless I have dealt with the vendor before and know they understand the meaning of the term - most don't.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    I think it depends on what you're buying and how much you're paying. Buying a mid-quality generic brand watch, you should expect to get what you paid for (i.e., if you got it for $10, then you probably did good. If you paid several hundred, then you got screwed). If you're buying a "desirable" brand, you have to expect that the odds of the watch being misrepresented will increase. That, in turn, tends to drive up the prices on the ones that clearly aren't misrepresented. So you either pay the bucks competing with the more knowledgeable buyers, or you gamble on the ones that the more knowledgeable buyers won't touch.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  9. #8
    Member LouS's Avatar
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Eeeb View Post
    I find most vendors honest and willing to resolve any unexpected disappointments. But I don't complain about marginal problems and am never nasty when dealing with disappointments.
    Solid rules of gentlemanly watch trading.....

  10. #9
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    I've bought my share of duffers, as well. It is truly amazing how many "Perfect working order" watches are damaged in some way by the postal matter transfer disruption field. The ones I send out aren't so I must have a good cloaking device.
    If you want to buy at the more expensive end of the market, do your research. Find out who writes about the fakes and frankies. Ask them. I scored a beauty once and it was due to dilligent research and getting the good word of a real expert.

  11. #10
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    Re: The perils for buying vintage watches from eBay

    For every honest seller on eBay, there are 2 or 3 dishonest ones. What they don't say is more important than what they do say sometimes. See the quote from M4tt in my signature - you need to do your homework and truly know what you're getting into.

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