vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

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  1. #1
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    vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    Hey folks,

    I am new to watch collecting but I am making up for lost time.

    By the irrational system I am using to manage this new habit, I currently have the right to buy myself a cheaper watch ($100 or less). However, I have not yet purchased online (fakes and frankensteins are scary) and I enjoy the chase of digging through antiques stores, thrift stores, etc to find cheap diamonds among over-valued coal. I passed on a vintage Seiko auto for $100 because although it ran, it was poorly reassembled and had rust under the loose caseback. I recently soured on quartz after a cleaning and new battery did not revive a $3 goofy reverse. I am starting to feel a bit creepy visiting the pawn shops in the neighboring town so much, and mostly what they have are over-priced, uuuugly, newer watches. Few antiques stores carry watches. Cool vintage watch dealers I have heard about are far away and have unreliable hours.

    I need ideas for places to go locally to find affordable vintage watches, perhaps including ones that I could learn to clean, reassemble, and calibrate myself. What am I missing for places to find watches?
    Last edited by tinyfrogs; September 29th, 2011 at 06:39. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Member joeuk's Avatar
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    I go into lots of charity shops which is something I never used to do in the past, to find cheap watches, flee markets is also a place where I go, no luck yet. most of mine are bought on the bay, you can still pick up cheap vintage watches esp seiko and roamer I bought was cheap and in great condition. Also try watch fairs and even friendly with a local watchguy that fixes vintage watches, as he may know or have a good cheap watch for you.

  3. #3
    Member TheJohnP's Avatar
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    Where are you located tinyfrogs?
    A fellow member in your area might be able to suggest some spots for you.
    Although don't be too surprised if some of us do keep a few locations as our own little secret! :D
    I've got more Converse sneakers than watches, but it is a close race.

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  5. #4
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    My more recent successes have been at flea markets, but the definition of "flea market" varies from place to place. The ones here in ottawa are what I consider "true" flea markets (lots of antique/junk dealers). I hit a few in Toronto, and they're more of what I consider "bazaars"...lots of overstock and cheap asian "dollar store" type items, but few vintage or antique items.

    Auctions are a great source of interesting watches, especially if you're willing to travel to the more out-of-the-way auctions. However, most auctions of that type will only contain one or two watches, and you typically have to sit through hours of other stuff before it comes up, so it can be a considerable time investment with little reward. Auctions that feature many watches also tend to draw lots of watch collectors, which pushes the prices up a bit. An alternative there is one of the "Live auction" websites like LiveAuctioneers and Proxibid, that basically allow online interactive bidding. The premiums for using these services are high (I've seen bid premiums as high as 30%), and since the auction companies aren't usually very big, you can run into trouble on the shipping side of things. Still, I've gotten a number of decent pieces this way, and you can monitor several auctions at the same time.

    Garage sales can be interesting, but watches rarely show up there. When they do, however, you can usually get a great deal. But you tend to have to show up early.

    Antique shows are fun, but usually overpriced. The general antique dealer doesn't tend to know a lot about watches, but the people at these shows pass a lot of information back and forth, so most things are at full market value. You can do well on stuff that looks "common" but is actually rare, but only if you know enough about them to recognize them as such. Knowledge is power!

    Pawn stores rarely turn up anything; these places are driven by turnover, so the only tend to accept stuff they know they can resell quickly (like rolex and omega), and prices are high. But if you get to know the owner, you might get access to their movement bucket; the place they throw the "worthless" watch movements after stripping them out of their solid gold cases.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  6. #5
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    I am in central NC. A WUS user gave me info for a store about 90 miles away, but I can't justify a trip just for watches and need to wait till business takes me there in a few months. Another lead was for a guy who sells vintage at a semi-local flea market, but he is away until November. I expect to make a purchase of a very non-vintage watch off the internet soon (a Suunto ABC for work), yet I await the estimate for repairing my pawn shop 40's Omega.

    Where are all the 60-70s, unmolested Seiko autos hanging out? Where are the piles of weird mechanical brands that only WUS remembers? Are WUS, ebay, watch makers the best way to get cool vintage? I haven't settled on a theme for my collection but it appears to be "function over form". I am attracted to watches that do a good job (such as vintage Seikos with a form that some might consider...ugly). Maybe I'll go back an give a lowball offer on that Seiko I passed on before. It was sure ugly, but would be a good project to learn some basic skills.

    I made a watch rack out of cypress knees that is currently 30% full, even with three Timexes (they have jobs), a Fossil (titanium chrono), a Skagen (gift) and a Swatch (cost me $3 and I plan to give it to a child ASAP). My 52 Longines, 77 Caravelle, and 41 Omega(?) are overwhelmed by the mediocrity of these other watches.

  7. #6
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    I'll keep hitting everything local that I can, including pawn shops, at least until I figure out what I really want. Thanks for the replies.

  8. #7
    Member TheJohnP's Avatar
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    Re: vintage watches for sale in the (n)online world

    Not sure how far you are from these, but if anything like the Scott Antique Market in GA, there's bound to be a few watch sellers or sellers with watches:

    September 29-October 2: North Carolina, Charlotte; International Collectibles and Antiques Shows. Metrolina Tradeshow Expo. 7100 Statesville Road. Thurs.-Sat. 9am-5pm. Sun. 10am-4pm. For information, 704-714-7909 or visit Largest International Collectibles and Antiques show in Charlotte, NC.

    October 8: North Carolina, Southern Pines; 3rd Annual Shaw House Fair of Antiques & Collectibles. Morgantown Road & Broad Street at the Shaw House. 9am-4pm. For information, 910-692-2051. Email, [email protected] or visit Moore County Historical Association | North Carolina.

    October 20-27: North Carolina, High Point ; The High Point Antique and Design Center Show. Historic Market Square, a 19th century restored furniture factory. 316 W. Commerce Ave. Open 9am-6pm daily. The show dates to the trade are 10/20-10/27. The last two days are open to the public, 10/26 and 10/27. For information, email, [email protected] or visit Antique & Design Center.
    I've got more Converse sneakers than watches, but it is a close race.

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