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Old hands to the eBay game recall a time when the thought of shipping internationally would send shivers up the spines of even the most seasoned merchants. Not that long ago on the buying side, today’s deep filtering and video previews on listings were wishful pipe dreams of watch buyers staring at pixelated 800 x 600 previews and wading through thousands of listings in search of something marginally relevant. On the occasion when these red-eye forays into the depths of watch e-commerce yielded the perfect watch, it sometimes was too far afield to safely purchase. No matter how much you wanted that limited-edition JDM Seiko, no amount of Google Translate could convince the seller to ship to the United States from Japan.
Fortunately, for those with itchy Buy It Now fingers, things are much different in 2023. The aforementioned video previews enable 360-degree inspections of everything from the newest Hublot to the most obscure vintage pieces. High-resolution image uploads make visible every detail, reducing buyer surprise and (theoretically) cutting down on returns. Deep product filtering trims endless results into bite-sized chunks. Ebay’s Global Shipping Program was a game-changer at its introduction and now, as it transforms into what eBay simply calls “International Shipping,” it continues to make the process of navigating the world’s Byzantine postal systems as simple as shipping a watch to an eBay-managed facility equipped to handle country-specific disclosures, packaging requirements, and the like.
In this new landscape of efficient purchasing, the race is on. Whereas before an obscure timepiece listing might languish for ages, lost in the sea of poorly filtered results, now it’s easier than ever to zero in on even the most specific eBay gems. The perfect example of this is the Bulova Accutron Spaceview photographed throughout this article. Not only a legend in collector circles, its distinctive looks would catch the eye of even the most disinterested observer, leading to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sale. These days on eBay, the vast majority of listings are click-to-buy. Gone is the era of a strictly auction-centric platform, meaning when listings pop up, it’s the swift buyers who succeed. Here, eBay’s “Saved Search” filter comes in handy. Any watch addict worth his or her salt knows that eBay caps the number of queries saved to your profile at approximately 200. These searches can be further refined by category, sub-category, and even watch-specific filters like case size, shape, and lug width. Every time a new listing pops up matching the saved parameters, eBay generates a notification (either push or email) summarizing all relevant listings new in the past 24 hours. For many watch buyers, it’s an indispensable tool that has made watch buying both easier and more competitive. Further incentivizing quick-purchases, the Expert Verification offered by eBay severely reduces the back-and-forth communique as buyers attempt to iron out every single possible wrinkle before purchasing with confidence. Instead, the platform’s professional verification intermediaries serve as arbiters, ensuring a “no harm, no foul” environment for transactions — a necessity when buying vintage pieces.
Of course, these new features can lead to unexpected surprises. A person casually browsing for nothing more specific than vintage green-dialed watches might, for example, use filters on a query of “vintage” within the watches category to quickly pare things down. By toggling for green dials with analog displays that are under 40mm and lugs between 16 and 20mm-wide yields a staggering 11,000+ results at the time of writing. But by specifying “pre-owned” and selecting the Accutron and Bulova brands, things drop down to a much more manageable seven listings, one of which is a pretty close match to the example seen here. Impatient buyers can add it directly to their eBay cart for $1,208.93, while those with a keener eye will notice the seller accepts offers, opening the door for price negotiations. With a few well-placed clicks, a person might go from having never heard the term “Spaceview” to obsessively checking eBay’s built-in package tracking, awaiting their next new shipment.
As the market for pre-owned watches continues to shift, eBay has emerged as a serious player in the market. Both die-hard collectors looking to fill the last slot in the watchbox and burgeoning enthusiasts searching for inspiration can leverage powerful search features on the platform to hunt down rare watches or spark the imagination for something entirely novel and unexpected.
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