When you start growing a collection of watches and aren’t exactly on the influencer scale of wealth, eBay seems like a natural place to pick up a bargain or two.
Now I’ve bought several watches off eBay with varying degrees of success and in this article, I’m going to talk about them: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Let the first talk about what I originally wanted while looking. Around 2 years ago I started wanting another watch that wasn’t going to break my wallet, I had a Tag Heuer Monaco that I was wearing every day and absolutely battering.
So, in a stroke of what some would call genius, I went onto eBay for the first time and bought a Seiko 5, my first automatic. At first, the clean black band and face combination, along with the Day/Date and sweeping hands made this such a good watch to just look at.
But over time it was clear to see this wasn’t a good watch, nothing against the Seiko 5 but this “franken” version I bought wasn’t up to code and so my rocky relationship with buying watches off eBay started…
I’ve bought 2 watches off eBay that I would class as “good”, one is my Omega Deville and the other being my 1940’s Derrick military watch. The Derrick seemed like a reliable beast for such an old watch and it was clear it had been serviced before I got it.
Handily it had a new band, the glass was new and it looked the part. It’s a manual winding watch which loses about 1 minute per day, not bad for an 80-year-old piece. Unfortunately, as you find with a lot on eBay, there is very little information about this quirky Swiss brand, even now I can’t only find scraps of information about it.
The Omega came to me not telling the time as the hands weren’t aligned properly, not ideal. After £25 and a quick trip to my local watch shop, this was all fixed and now it’s one of my favourites. It’s a gold-plated beauty with wear in all the right places, a small date window and is quartz so I know it’ll hold time like a champ.
This category has several. Let’s start with the heart breaker, my vintage Marque chronograph. I was so excited to get this watch and after having it shipped from the good ol’ US of A, I couldn’t wait to wear it.
Only it doesn’t work. It’s very pretty, in fact, it looks fantastic, but when you have a good-looking watch that doesn’t work it’s a pain. After taking it to a few repair shops I’ve found no one that will touch it due to the complexity of the internals and the age of the watch. Yay for me.
Next was a pair of Seiko 5’s, one is definitely a franken watch and was great for a while until the face span upside down (The black one from the first part of this tale). The other is 100% original and very 80’s looking but no matter what I do, I can’t release the links in the band to adjust it. On top of that trying to set the time on this very Miami Vice looking watch takes the strength of 10 men and even then, isn’t right.
I’ve saved this for last. In my own personal wisdom, I decided to purchase a bright purple Citizen automation watch.
Only this is again a franken watch and its poor. The watch works fine but the band after one use tore and upon reflection, it probably wasn’t worth the £15 I paid for it. On top of that, the case isn’t original and even the internals look like they were just added to a citizen’s face. Why did I think this would be a good idea!
So, what’s the takeaway from this, apart from the fact I’m clearly terrible at buying watches?
Well for one it’s about finding the right item, not just buying the one that looks the best. The Omega looked like it was from 1981 and had the wear on it to seem legitimate. You also have to think about the complexity of the movement, a quartz watch is easier to repair compared to a 1950’s chronograph and a hell of a lot cheaper if it goes wrong.
The main take away is it’s about taking the risk that you may spend money on a watch and have it really not be the dream you thought it would be, but that’s okay. End of the day if you buy a bit of a franken watch but you like it, who am I to judge. I mean I will judge, as will everyone in the watch community but that’s beside the point.
Currently, I’m down to 5 watches that I wear on the regular if anyone would like to buy the old, broken and derelict watches I bought then find my eBay @Isuckatthis or just search for “short lad from Birmingham who can’t buy watches to save his life”.
I hope that my own accounts with eBay can some way guide you on how to buy watches or more so, what to avoid when buying watches from private sellers on the internet.