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  1. #1
    Registered User mikelikeswatches's Avatar
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    Default When is a watch considered "extremely rare?"

    Hi. I was looking through eBay today to get a feel for the price range on a 23 jewel Veritas with a winding indicator.

    I came across a listing which has "rare" in the title and refers to the watch as "extremely rare" in the description. According to the database, there were 9000 of this watch produced, same grade and model as the one I have. I was always under the impression that a production volume of that level would not necessarily be considered "rare" let alone "extremely rare."

    Do you think this is an error in their listing? Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: mikelikeswatches)

    Extremely rare to me is single digits.

    That's just my "extreme" definition though.

    I have watches with productions probably in two digit region that I don't consider particularly rare. If all my friends have one too, it can't be too rare can it?

  3. #3
    Registered User Clint Geller's Avatar
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?"

    An "extremely rare" watch is any watch that you are selling.

    Seriously, pocket watches are complicated objects with many different dimensions. Thus there are many otherwise common watches that have "rare" features or qualities. Combinations of otherwise not-so-rare features can also make a watch rare (for example, some kinds of nickel keywind movements). Rarity is also only the supply side of the value equation. The other side is demand. There are "rare" features, or combinations of otherwise not-so-rare features that no one really cares about. If one wishes to split hairs to an absurd extreme, almost every watch has an unique serial number, making every watch not only "rare," but "unique." As a more substantive example, there are some unique private label watches that are only marginally more valuable than similar watches with standard markings. What is both rare and important changes with time, and with whom you ask. Ultimately, inherent quality, technical novelty, historical significance, and condition are the best long-term guides to the values of "rare" watches.
    Last edited by Clint Geller; 02-26-2017 at 11:01 AM.
    Clint Geller, FNAWCC, # 84,947

  4. #4
    Registered User mikelikeswatches's Avatar
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: Clint Geller)

    Quote Originally Posted by Clint Geller View Post
    An "extremely rare" watch is any watch that you are selling.

    Seriously, pocket watches are complicated objects with many different dimensions. Thus there are many otherwise common watches that have "rare" features or qualities. Combinations of otherwise not-so-rare features can also make a watch rare (for example, some kinds of nickel keywind movements). Rarity is also only the supply side of the value equation. The other side is demand. There are "rare" features, or combinations of otherwise not-so-rare features that no one really cares about. If one wishes to split hairs to an absurd extreme, almost every watch has an unique serial number, making every watch not only "rare," but "unique." What is both rare and important changes with time, and with whom you talk to. Ultimately, inherent quality, technical novelty, historical significance, and condition are the best long-term guides to the values of "rare" watches.
    That's an interesting take on the subject that I hadn't necessarily thought of before. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of rarity is production numbers but I think the items you have mentioned are important to consider also

  5. #5
    Registered user. Candew's Avatar
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: mikelikeswatches)

    Along with production numbers you may also consider "surviving numbers"

    Of course no one really knows but an inexpensive watch may not have many survivors if a lot were tossed out or scrapped. A good indicator might be rarely seeing that type or model listed for sale anywhere.

  6. #6

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: Clint Geller)

    Gentle nod in agreement with Clint, particularly the first sentence.
    Some sellers will describe almost anything as rare or very rare, even if they themselves are selling 3 or 4 watches that are all the same.
    If in doubt, why not message the seller, ask them to clarify. See if they can quantify how rare is rare and can they produce any documentation to back up the claim - there were X made (or there are X survivors) of precisely what?

  7. #7

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: topspin)

    Almost everyting on eBay is "extremely rare."
    John Cote
    Watch Collector (pocket & wrist), Clock Admirer, Time Nerd...

  8. #8

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: John Cote)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Cote View Post
    Almost everyting on eBay is "extremely rare."

    It's related to that thing that is the least rare. That person that, according to PT Barnum, was born every minute. Otherwise, sellers would probably stop calling the rather common, "rare". While I get a kick out of these descriptions, I feel sorry for those who might become marks. But if they're online looking, they have the opportunity to gain knowledge before making mistakes.

  9. #9

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: MrRoundel)

    Quote Originally Posted by MrRoundel View Post
    I feel sorry for those who might become marks. But if they're online looking, they have the opportunity to gain knowledge before making mistakes.
    I agree...if the word "rare" exerts any influence on any eBay buyer he or she probably deserves what he or she gets. Caveat emptor!
    John Cote
    Watch Collector (pocket & wrist), Clock Admirer, Time Nerd...

  10. #10
    Registered User Clint Geller's Avatar
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: John Cote)

    Almost the rarest thing on Ebay is a completely honest, accurate and detailed watch description.
    Clint Geller, FNAWCC, # 84,947

  11. #11
    Registered user. geo.ulrich's Avatar
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    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: Clint Geller)

    Quote Originally Posted by Clint Geller View Post
    Almost the rarest thing on Ebay is a completely honest, accurate and detailed watch description.
    now that is good

  12. #12

    Smile Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: mikelikeswatches)

    Just to put this in perspective, page 101 of Complete Price Guide to Watches, No 33, R. Gilbert, T. Engle and C. Shugart, Tinderbox Press, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2013 lists the below ratings of quantities. Although the assignment of 'Stars' elsewhere in the book may be open to debate (or in some instances, is demonstrably incorrect), the definitions used are as good as any in establishing the meanings of terms such as rare, scarce, etc.

    Star Ratings

    No. of StarsTermQuantity
    *****Rare1-25
    ****Scarce100
    ***Very Few350
    **Sparse1,000
    *Uncommon2,500

    Ed Ueberall and I maintain a data base of surviving examples of railroad watches (and other watches that are interesting to us): It contains the following grade No. 214, 18-size, 23-jewel, Veritas WI watches:

    10,678,052 - May have been a single watch retrofitted with a WI (this factory service was available)

    Individual watches mixed in with run of non-WI grade No. 214 watches
    16,022,222
    16,022,236
    16,022,332
    16,022,783

    For the range 16,602.001 - 16,602,200 there are no reported non-WI watches (although due to time constraints, we haven't been generally recording non-WI grade No. 214 watches).
    16,602,022
    16,602,024
    16,602,036
    16,602,050
    16,602,053
    16,602,061
    16,602,062
    16,602,076
    16,602,080
    16,602,083
    16,602,096
    16,602,096
    16,602,107
    16,602,117
    16,602,119
    16,602,126
    16,602,139
    16,602,156
    16,602,161
    16,602,163
    16,602,166

    So, there seems to have been a little over 200 grade No. 214, 18-size, 23-jewel, Veritas WI watches. Using the above definitions, these aren't even scarce; not rare, and certainly not "extremely rare?" (using ben_hutcherson's definition of single digits - with which am in accord).

    As for Veritas grade Nos. 376 and 453, 16-size, 23-jewel, WI watches, there's thousands of those, enough to consider them to be considered common.

    Of course, as pointed out above, there may be some variations such as case, dial, or private label marking that may be rare.
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  13. #13

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: John Cote)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Cote View Post
    Almost everyting on eBay is "extremely rare."

    At least that's an improvement on "extremely unique"
    Martin Rosen

  14. #14

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: Kent)

    As an exercise in "fun-ness" perhaps people here could post examples of watches (or related stuff) IN THEIR COLLECTION along WITH PICTURES of such that they consider to be "RARE" along with an EXPLANATION of why they consider such to be rare. This might help to illuminate the distinctions that we (collectors) make in deciding what is "rare" and what isn't. I think it might be fun to challenge ourselves in this regard. Or we can continue with the same old debates about certain auction venues, shady sellers, over hyping watches, etc..

    If anyone asks, I can start with an example.

  15. #15

    Default Re: When is a watch considered "extremely rare?" (By: Greg Frauenhoff)

    Been in the car hobby for some time & I continue to be entertained by the descriptions of cars in auctions, advertisements & car shows. Barn find is a laughable one that may be true occasionally. Some cars are displayed with years of "patina", make that dirt, as if this somehow makes them more valuable. It probably means "needs total restoration". Survivor is another interesting description for an unmolested car that may be desirable for someone who values totally stock. But my all time favorite was a sixties Mustang advertised as still having original air in the tires. But I digress.... SHBKF

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