How Much Is Your Watch Worth - Part II

There was a blog posted on this subject in Dec 2011 by Plainsman. I would like to add some comments in a new blog.

I currently have numerous watches for sale on Ebay. As indicated on the other blog posts, you never know how to price your collection when you go to liquidate it. One day something that is in really rough condition will sell for an astronomical price....and the next day your pristine watch that you bought, cleaned-up, found a NOS crystal for it, bought a NOS strap for it...can sell for $29. 

I just ask you: Do you want to sell your treasured timepieces for salvale. restore, or repair value if you are going to sell it? I doubt it!

So how do you price them when you want to sell (to pay mediacal expenses, because the wife insists you do, or because you want to "invest" in something else?)? Do you price them to give them away? Or do you price them according to your investment in saving them for posterity? I doubt you will ever sell them to make money (although I have sold watches for 3-4 times Ebay prices previously on my own website and made money). 

My regret about buying, restoring, and now selling is no one wants to pay for a watch unless they get caught-up in the Ebay bidding competition game. I have been the victim of bidders pushing-up the price on an item numerous times this way...and ended up over-paying either because I really wanted it or I needed whatever I was buying. 

So to my dismay....there does not appear to be a market for these watches - even in pristine condition....that is unless you start an auction off at $.99 and hope there are 15-20 bidders willing to compete for your piece. You MIGHT get $100 for your watch...or you might sell for under $20 using this strategy.

Therefore, I just wanted to point out what appears to be the pricing strategy and valuation methodology for restored vintage Bulova watches: Take a gamble on an Ebay auction and hope for the best....or second, set a minimum you wil accept as a price as the starting auction price and hope anyone will even bid, or third, just price them at what you value them at....and allow for buyers to submit a Best Offer. Then you can accept any reasonable offer and reject the obsurd ones!

I'm not sure of the best way to get the best value for your collectible Buova timepieces (maybe you can submit your opinion?) So I suggest to you, as Bulovas Collectors, to collect to hold and give away to freinds or family later; Or have your wife dispose of them when you're deceased! No one wants to pay for quality....they all want to overpay for junk and kid themselves that they got a deal! You should plan now on whom you will give you watches to....because otherwise they will become a recycled Ebay auction after your are gone! 

Posted September 26, 2013 - 8:27pm

Boy ain't it true. I just sold 5 watches on the bay for $254.00 and was sick about it. Then I sold two directly to a person who paid me $225.00 for them. They were all in excellent running condition and cleaned and oiled. Go figure.

Posted September 26, 2013 - 9:58pm

I hear you...we buy for $60....recondition, service, find a hard-to-find NOS crystal...put on a decent strap....and sell for $50. Makes no sense. I've gotten more for a tin full of parts! Ridiculous. 

Too bad the website couldn't be an auction-house for selling.

Posted September 27, 2013 - 9:21am

Club 5000Panel Member

I think if you can buy one cheap enough and look to double your money you're doing well. I think we all know that these vintage Swiss movement beauties don't sell for anywhere near what they should be worth. Just look at the crappy modern quartz watches you buy these days for hundreds of dollars. Give me a vintage jewelled movement watch any day!

I think that the market is also flooded with Bulova watches at the moment, so finding that gem and then winning it is ever increasing in difficulty, unless you have deep pockets that this, but then you're unlikely to ever get your money back if you decide to sell it.

Posted September 27, 2013 - 2:47pm

You would think that the time spent looking through all the auction listings, having an eye for quality, researching to ID the model, knowing a thing or two about watch repair, and owning an accummulating of NOS parts, crystals, and straps...and then preserving the Bulova legacy and history of a timepiece (or as I like to think of them, pieces of functional art) would allow a person to realize somehting for their value-added service. Your gorgeous and rare Bulova pocket watch is a fine example. Personally, I would buy it in a heartbeat except I have the same working movement. I only needed a case for it....and therefore I decided to pass because I don't need two!. But it is worth every penny you are asking for it....but it may be hard to get someone to buy it. The restoration was near perfect Stephen...and the value-added is obvious...but unless you roll the dice on an auction you may (or may not) get what you want for it. I guess all we get for our efforts are the satisfaction from our work (the number one benefit for me anyway!) . 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
Posted September 27, 2013 - 3:42pm

Worth, or value is determined by what a Seller is willing to sell for and what a Buyer is willing to pay.

Online auctions are just that, auctions and unless a reserve is in place the item being auctioned off will sell to the highest bidder. .

These are hardly the best economic times in the U.S. and prices on many luxuries or non-necessity items reflect it.

Buy and hold.

Posted September 27, 2013 - 6:17pm

One of the issues that comes up on watches that are being sold is when they claim "Serviced".

I had one womans watch that claimed that and when my local watchmaker looked it over, found something similar to axle grease on the gears under the dial. 

If I know the seller, then I am usually willing to spend a little more for a serviced watch, otherwise I have to figure in the cost of a full clean/oil/adjust when figuring what my limit is and not count on being properly serviced.


having an outstanding watch is nice, but not if I am into it for three times the market value.


Posted September 28, 2013 - 2:34am

I hope you didn't really belive someone serviced a ladies watch and sold it to you for under $100? Servicing a pocket watch is one thing; Serving a wrist watch is another; Serving a tiny ladies movement is yet another thing. You had better be experienced to work on one! I've serviced ladies automatics which are all the same parts as a man's automatic...condensed down to less than the size of your thumb nail! So I would never believe anyone serviced a woman watch when I paid under $100 for it. Second thing is: Watchmakers are always going to tell you a watch needs servicing. If a person can't open the back case cover and tell you whether the watch has been serviced or not....then he's not a very good watch man IMO. If you can see dirt and you can see that the pivots are know immediately. You don't have to take a watch apart to detemine whether it's been serviced recently. Finally, if you have to depend on someone's claim on Ebay to have serviced a watch for sale in order to determine whether you should pay more than you belive it's'd be better off shopping from a reputable dealer, restorer or other Internet watch source and get off Ebay IMO. I buy based on a visual inspection and appraisal of the watch when possible: No wear through on the casing, clean movement, good crystal, decent strap. If someone left a scratched crystal on a watch and a beat-up strap or you really think they cleaned and serviced the movement? If they give you only a couple bad photos of the watch - do you think they are representing it honestly? Only people who have something to be proud to be selling witl go the extra mile in posting photos of a watch for sale...the rest are mostly illegitimate claims and  deception tactics....and you take your chances. I always pay more for quality (there's less competition :-) instead of getting  caught up into the rat race of competing for junk. 

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted September 27, 2013 - 7:02pm

Panel Member

I rarely, very rarely ever find that a watch has been serviced that purports to be. Oiling visible jewels in a filthy movement is not a service, but I encounter it often. This is particularly true of clocks, which are given to me dripping with oil or kerosene. 

Always bank on at least a good look see by a watchmaker as insurance that your new purchase is not going to grind itself to pieces. 

As for eBay itself, it is not a good source for assessing the value of anything, needless to say, for the above mentioned excellent reasons. I try not to get sucked into any competitive bidding, but every now and then there is something I really like. 

I have a list of sellers that I know and trust, and this is a good way to buy, and as a repeat customer you can get perks like free shipping, etc. 

DarHin's picture
Posted September 28, 2013 - 12:52pm

Not wanting to get sucked into a bidding war is precisely why I use Gixen to snipe. I determine how much I'm willing to pay for a particular item, enter it in Gixen then forget about it.

To be honest there are times when I've raised my max bid, though rarely.

Posted October 16, 2013 - 11:59pm

I have the best luck selling "nice watches" just by using the buy it now feature, if there is not much action (views or watchers) in the first 2-3 weeks, then I will ad a "best offer" to the listing...I have a store, so listing fees are minimal. Besides, waiting & hoping for a last 5 minute surge is nerve-racking!

I bought a bunch of nice Citizen eco & Seiko Chrono's from a local pawn auction back in May or June for $20.00 - $30.00 each and the cheapest one I sold was for $100.00, all it take is time. I still have a couple listed and one left to list that I kind of use as my weekend watch, and will probably put that up soon for the holiday season...(or maybe not) : )

I think the eBay auctions are very much seasonal, and very risky especially with the global economy, but I also find that many of my customers are not from the US, so if you are not selling world wide, you may be missing out on sales.

I did not do any watch snipeing this summer, but I would bet as usual there were a lot of bargains to be found.

I guess the moral of this story is the same as it was that we used in the auto sales industry..."there's  a ass for every seat, but sometime finding that ass takes time"