Watch Values Slump?
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  1. #1
    Sponsor thoth's Avatar
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    Watch Values Slump?

    So I have been looking at the past prices of various watches. Not low end junk but some good examples of rather good pocket watches. I read this article and that article about the "softening" in the markets, with the exception of Rolex, Patek, etc.

    So it got me to thinking. What do we usually tell people to do when they want to find a value on a watch? Go look at sold ones on the bay. I think this idea is part of the downfall. No THE contributor, but one of many.

    Lets say a seller has no idea what what they have is worth and can't be bothered to research it....like the Hamilton 950B I picked up for $200. Well now there is a price point out there that says a 950B can sell for as low as $200. You also have the typical bargain hunters, of which I am, pushing to get cheaper and cheaper for better means the better gets cheaper and cheaper.

    When I was at an actual auction a bit ago, watches were going for more than the bay prices. Truthfully the Amish I was bidding against are willing to pay a good price for a good watch. But even then, that is a different market than the bay. But we tell everyone...go look at the bay for a price. You can say all you want a watch is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay, but when it comes down to it we all want to pay as little as possible. No one goes out saying they want to pay as much as possible.

    So have we become our own worst enemy when it comes to the value of our watches?

    I know I posted about Zenith being undervalued. That is true when you look at the aspect that people want to pay the least they can for higher quality and that push drives prices down, not up.

    I know no one is going to say "Heck yes lets pay more to get the prices up there." I am just thinking.....
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  2. #2
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    When 'Joe Bag of Donuts' sees a Zenith for the first time, "I thought they made televisions".
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  3. #3
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    Exactly.

    I see Waltham in coin silver dustproof (screw down crown) cases selling for $100. The listing...."Old Pocket Watch". A collector sees the it and snaps it up. The seller has no clue even after and keeps selling.

    Guy goes into an antique shop and sees an old watch and does not understand why the Bulls Eye dollar watch is only $30 and the Hamilton 992 is $250....buys the Bulls Eye because it is an "old pocket watch" and was cheaper. The dealer now sits there thinking, like I do sometimes, people only want the cheap stuff and if I am to sell anything I have to price the better stuff like cheap stuff.

    When I have been going through John's watches, he noted prices on the backs. In many cases you see them going up, but then he stops tracking on some and well some he never got a chance to continue tracking. But still...it does show the decline in the pocket watch market.

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  5. #4
    Member odd_and_vintage_fan's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    From my limited experience, the bay helps those with patience. In a true auction setting, if the bidding starts at $200 and nobody's willing to pay that, wouldn't the item go back on the shelf until the next auction? On the bay, it gets relisted immediately at $20 to $50 off.

    I got my Waltham Electric for less than $100 after the initial Buy it Now started at $300 and I watched it go unsold through two or three cycles.

    I was considering buying a beat to heck Timex Quartz with the balance wheel M63 movement for $30 but waited on it and then a much better example with minimal plating loss and on the original bracelet came along for the same price.

    I'll agree with your premise that online auctions are pushing prices down, but I think that the lack of a "bid now or never see another one" can keep people from digging deep and inflating prices.

    Conversely, if a Pulsar P1 in working condition with original band and magnet showed up in Amish country with a low starting bid, someone could make out like a bandit, so local market conditions are always in play.
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  6. #5
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    Quote Originally Posted by odd_and_vintage_fan View Post
    In a true auction setting, if the bidding starts at $200 and nobody's willing to pay that, wouldn't the item go back on the shelf until the next auction?
    The auctioneer always starts out high in a live auction. Say $300 on a watch and then goes down 250, 200, 150, 100....biding then starts at $100. I have seen ones do that and end off at $400-$450. The only time one does not sell is if there is a reserve. Say the reserve on the $300 watch was $200 and bidding hit $190....then it was unsold and goes back to the seller.

    So when a seller relists lower and lower, and starts to undervalue, they signal they are just trying to unload it and maybe that they don't have much into it.

    With the web being a place where you can get almost any watch, even a rare one, if you wait long enough is a factor. It means people can say, I will wait for a cheaper one. The issue is that there will be someone that will put up a cheaper one, maybe without knowing it...and you end up with a newer lower value. In other words, the collectors have lost control over the values and that now gets settle by goober with a computer.

    I know I say "Book values are way out of touch and the book is only good as a ref." But that is not just based on the fact that internet prices can be way different, it is also based on the fact that some watches are valued way too low or high in there to begin with. But back in the day, the book was the way you priced and if you wanted to deviate from it, you had to give reason.

    Then you have etsy. I still can't figure that place out. Prices on there are 3X book and reasonable collector prices are hard to come by. But someone has to be buying there or they would not keep selling a 15 jewel Columbus in a brassed out case for $500 or a 992B for $800 in the wrong case. It seems like where the bay is for bargain hunting and getting things as cheap as possible for buyers, etsy is the fantasy land for sellers.
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  7. #6
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    I think that eBay just makes the market more efficient; it doesn't tend to drive prices up or down. Supply and demand does that. All the reasoning you are using to explain your perception of falling prices could equally well be used to explain rising prices if there are a lot of buyers driving demand. I've seen that argument often enough, i.e. "eBay auctions are driving prices up because buyers from all over the world compete with each other, whereas there might only be one or two interested buyers at a local auction".

    I think that we are actually starting to see a true flattening of vintage/antique watch prices (and maybe the beginning of a drop) outside of a small number of brands and models that are still going crazy. God help me, I sound like @Tony C.
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    Vint. Forum Co-Moderator Mirius's Avatar
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    I think that you also need to take into account the maturity level of the pocket watch collectors. I see a number of markets where prices are currently very high. I also see that it’s a relatively small number of older collectors who are pushing the prices up. Inevitably as age starts to thin out the collector base then the demand goes away and prices start to slide.

    Just who is seriously collecting pocket watches these days?
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirius View Post

    Just who is seriously collecting pocket watches these days?

    Me for one, I now wear one every day and as we know, one is never enough

    Matt


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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    I always tend to look at a few completed/sold listings on eBay and average those out. That helps me to gauge a perceived price point easier. And if someone got really lucky and got a steal, that would be offset by factoring in more sales. Then again, the person who finds an item by someone who doesn't know what they have is searching harder than the other person looking for a specific item. It takes more thought and effort to search for how someone "not thinking about it" would list an item.
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  11. #10
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    Re: Watch Values Slump?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirius View Post
    I think that you also need to take into account the maturity level of the pocket watch collectors. I see a number of markets where prices are currently very high. I also see that it’s a relatively small number of older collectors who are pushing the prices up. Inevitably as age starts to thin out the collector base then the demand goes away and prices start to slide.

    Just who is seriously collecting pocket watches these days?

    Yes a aging population that likes pocket watches is winding down. I'm 40 though and started with a pocket watch when I was 14. I only focused on pocket watches mainly because that is where my head is stuck right now. But I did mention Zenith. I have seen good examples of IWC, Omega, Longines, etc wristwatches also selling for less. I don't think we can point to the aging population for the decline in their prices.

    One thing to consider is the changes in the economy and the earnings of newer collectors. They have many more years before they can pony up large sums to buy the higher end examples or names. Being more tech savvy and deep into the web, they pick off the bargains. Push for lower prices and better deals to get the watches they want into their price range.

    Many factors drive a price down. Hype drives them up...like Rolex. Average Joe on the street thinks that Rolex is the highest quality and has the most expensive watches in the world. That is because of hype and marketing. Great job for Rolex, but a disservice to the rest of the watch world of high end names. But then the higher end names are about pure quality and luxury and being more exclusive. But you may find in the end that a lower quality Rolex will sell for more than a higher quality Patek in the same type.

    Kind of like how platinum is far more scarce than gold but way lower in value. Because gold is gold! OMG you have a Rolex....you must be rich because you have a Rolex!
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