I was looking at a watch on Ebay, which I didn't win the bidding on. Someone else got it for $200. 2 weeks later, the same watch is up for bidding starting at $99. I did some research into the people involved and it seems the current seller and the last winner seem to do a lot of business with each other. I assume it's a shell bidder situation, but can't be sure. Maybe 1 person won it, sold it to his friend who now is putting it up for auction....but I doubt it. So what I'm wondering is (assuming the initial seller had nothing to do with any scam) what did the first buyer do to the watch to make it worth less? Are there interior parts he could have swapped out or something? I know absolutely nothing about vintage watches, I'm only interested in the origin for my "North Tonawanda" collection.
Looking for help from anyone who knows what they're doing. Is it just a matter of the second guy figuring he can get more than the first guy did? Did they rip out the innards?
March 11th, 2007
Re: What's the scam?
It's not a simple call.
Remember, there is probably no change in the intrinsic "worth" of the watch: there is only a market price, a price that clears the supply of the watch from the market. This price is determined by a number of additional factors beyond supply and demand: how well the watch is presented, how good are the pictures, how good is the description, timing of the auction (an auction ending on Friday PM is more likely to achieve a higher price than one ending at 10 AM on Sunday or 3pm on Wednesday, given the number of people on eBay making bids at that time, dependent on well on the kind of item being auctioned.
What you may be running into is indeed a shell bidder, or simply the usual eBay violation of someone bidding to drive up the price for a buddy. If you believe this to be the case, report it.
It could also be simply that the second buyer got the watch and it's not what he thought it would be, or is suffering buyer's remorse of having spent too much. I looked at his other purchases and they are all pocket watches or pocket watch chains, i.e. he's a consistent purchaser.
He's putting it up with a start price of $99. If you are into game theory, that is half of what he paid for it, i.e. his lowest point of selling it. He obviously wants to sell it for more (otherwise he'd have put it in for immediate sale at that price), but is not willing to sell it for less than half of what he paid for it.
If you want the watch, put a sniper on it and bid just slightly under what it sold for the last time. The high initial bid level means a) the seller is willing to pay eBay a higher price to put it up to ensure a stop-loss and b) most bargain-hunters won't bother bidding, as they refuse to bid on anything not starting with $1 or whatever the lowest bid is.
The likelihood of shilling is, however, reduced by the different set of photos involved (most don't bother to do that...), plus the time difference involved.
Remember, the price that is determined by eBay is NOT the value of the watch: it is the market-clearing price of the watch. I've seen what looked like junk be bought for virtually nothing and the seller takes better pictures, writes up a good story, gives the watch a superficial cleaning and polishes the crystal and sells the watch for 30 times what he paid for it. Thirty times.
It's all a question of marketing. :-)
March 13th, 2007
Re: What's the scam?
Obviously this seller knows nothing about pocket watches. It's a seven jewel grade 95 movement and a 6s (or possibly some 8s) according to the Elgin database. That would make it a small rather pedestrian grade Elgin ladies pocket watch from the 1880s.
Close to 750,000 of these movements were made, so again it's not particularly rare. Maybe the fact that its a private label jeweler's watch from North Tonawanda might make it of interest.