Looking to buy my first pocket watch. Saw this one for sale. Apparently not working. Is this a legit watch and not a repo? Should fact that it is not working be a concern, expensive? Any help would be appreciated.
It’s genuine in that it is old and not a modern reproduction but it’s not particularly high quality and it’s a cylinder escapement. The movement is Swiss and so is the case (no British hallmarks). This type of escapement is prone to wear. I think you’d be better off with a 20th Century 15 jewel Swiss lever escapement as a first pocket watch. They are not expensive in base metal cases and you could use such a watch daily if you wanted. Also as a first pocket watch you might want to buy from a recognised dealer in old watches. That will be more expensive than an auction site but you’d get some kind of warranty.
If not working you'd need a watchmaker to fix it and a watchmaker who is prepared to work on an old cylinder escapement. Very hard to give a figure for what that might cost as we do not know what is wrong with the watch or where you are in the world. At the very least it would require full disassembly, cleaning and lubrication. Likely to be around the £150+ mark for that, more if there are faults.
The answer to your questions depends on what you mean by legit/repo.
It is a watch made to deceive. It was not made by, finished by or retailed by any company with the Tobias name. It was probably made midway through the 19th century, in Switzerland, for export to the US where the Tobias name was associated with high quality watches. In this case, the Tobias name has been used to represent this watch as something very much more desirable than it really is. The quality is at the low end, and if its not working it is likely to be expensive to repair and will certainly cost a lot more than the watch will then be worth. You'll find many similar examples offered for relatively high prices but I doubt they sell for those prices, and if they do then the deceitful use of the Tobias name continues to take money from the unwary.
To expand on Stephen's comment, people who are prepared to work on cylinder escapements aren't very common here in the UK and even more rare on your side of the pond. If you add to this that Andy has pointed out that it's a fake, albeit an old one, you should walk away from this and continue your search. There are members here who would be happy to advise you on any prospective purchase via the Conversation/PM route. (Just click on the avatar of someone you want to start a private conversation with).
It would be a shame if you are disappointed with your first pocket watch and put off the hobby. I am not sure what the market is like outside the U.K. but here you could buy a good solid, quality, working pocket watch by such Swiss companies as Zenith, Omega, Revue/Vertex amongst others for less than £150 if in a base metal case. If you want something British then JW Benson watches are a good start. The 20th Century Bensons are almost all with Swiss movements. Earlier ones have British movements. The era 1920-1950 has a lot of choice of pocket watches that have more potential life left in them as they are often not that heavily used and in decent condition. Personally I think such watches are a bargain. They have high quality movements and would have been expensive when new and they make lovely daily use watches that are reliable and keep good time.
Thank you all for the kind words, support and insight. Before leaving my question on the forum, I did a quick search and saw a post on the forum about being cautious about Tobias as they were many more knockoffs than original. That prompted my question. Thank you for not letting me be disappointed.
I have my eye on a Waltham for about $68 USD in running condition. Will post some pics later.