October 21, 2007
by Ariel Adams
I remember back in college when I first started appreciating watches. I began to learn that there were so many watch companies and manufacturers. With prices ranging from $100 to well over $100,000. The watch magazines (like WatchTime or InSync) categorized a “mid to low range” watch at between $1,000-$2000. This is rather steep. And the tendency when liking watches is to want more and more of them as each embodies its own style and purpose. No watch enthusiast you meet will be happy with the size of their collection. There are always other they want. Which is not an indication of their lack of interest in their existing collection, but rather a mere function of the fact that like art, each arouses certain emotion in the wear, or at least, has a different function (dressy, sport, diving, bling).
So where do you get watches if price is a concern (as it usually is)? eBay of course! My perennial favorite at least. However, it is not as simple as just searching on eBay. The problem become that many of the more exclusive or less mainstream watches are not going to be on eBay with any regularity. One example is the Temption watch that I bought. This tiny German watch maker has but one American distributor which is www.watchbuys.com. I saved “temption watch” as a search favorite on ebay for close to a year before a piece even showed up. The watch that turned up was thankfully the Temption CGK203 which I eventually “won” in the auction. Yes, this was a very limited watch at only 11oo ever being made, who knows how many of them ended up stateside, but it goes to show that eBay is not swimming with good watches all the time.
However, the price I received on eBay was fantastic compared to the fact that the watch was not being made any longer and was about 1/4 of the original retail price. Because of this, I have to recommend eBay as the place to go for watch deals, but you have to spend some time looking. So what happens when you find a watch on eBay that you want? Here is a list of something to do to make sure you are getting the right deal and item:
1. Communicate with the seller. Make sure they are talking to you, and that you can ask questions.
2. Be very specific with your questions about the watch. Ask for more pictures if there are not enough, and ask if there is anything that you as a potential buyer would like to know. This way, if there is something wrong with the watch later, they cannot claim you did not ask. A typical buyer will want to know whether there is damage or issues with the watch.
3. Ask if the seller is the original owner and if the papers are included. This isn’t about the watch being stolen, but rather part of making sure the watch has been cared for and is real. Buying a fake on eBay is a real concern.
4. If the seller claims he or she does not know whether the watch is a fake, assume it is a fake. This is a classic tactic by watch sellers when trying to get rid of a fake watch. Do not go for the whole “I don’t know about these things, the watch looks great to me, you will love it.”
5. Just because they don’t take Paypal, does not mean it is a sham. Sure Paypal gives you comforting insurance, but not all sellers want to go with it because it takes a cut of their money. If everything else seems kosher, but they don’t take Paypal, it should not break the deal.
6. When dealing with seller from foreign countries, be careful, but not rude. Not all foreign sellers are scammers or trying to rip you off. You have to remember that the US only consumes 15% of the luxury watch market. The rest is primarily centered in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Sellers from these places are probably ok if they are communicative.
7. Feedback is important, but be smart about it. I have dealt with people with little to no feedback who have been great, and people with lots of feedback whose positive responses have been mostly fake. Remember communication is most important.
8. Know your stuff! Before making any bids on eBay, Google the watch. See how rare it is, what it goes for, and where else you can get it. Often eBay is the best deal, but you need to make sure you know what you are getting.
There are just some of the most important tips. I will be happy to answer any specific questions if you contact me.
Lastly, a lot of people love dealing with other watch enthusiasts to purchase watches. In my experience, this is not always the best idea. Sites like timezone.com and others offer user forums where people are placing ads to sell or wanted ad to purchase watches. These locations can offer really good selections, and sometimes the only place to find the right pieces. Unless you are making a trade, you are not going to get the best prices on these forums. You are dealing with watch fanatics that know exactly what they paid for it. They are selling their watches to fund future purchases, and will want as much money as possible. I have seen really nice watches being listed for months, if not years because the seller stubbornly does not understand the concept of supply and demand.
If you see a watch that you want listed in one of these places, I recommend you make it clear to the seller that you are interested in the watch at the right price. If he or she does not give it to you, then “walk away.” Usually this is a good tactic and they will make another offer to you later. The only exception is for watches that are in very high demand, in which case I recommend having the seller make you a “firm offer” that they say will not expire, or that they will not rescind. This however, is a topic for another posting. The point is that these people are often trying to get as much for their watch as possible, and that is not the best environment to get a deal.
Alternatively, eBay provides a better environment to scope out and find desirable time pieces.