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Cheap thrills

4thdimension

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Oct 18, 2001
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Greetings,
If buying and selling watches accounts for a
fair percentage of your income, you may have
noticed that it seems to be a good time to be buying. Unfortunately, it can be tough to follow the curves in the market.
This evening, after advising another dot com
guy about his recent multiple collection aquisitions, I retreated to my basement and spent some time looking at old paper! What inspired me to write was a comparison of a
pre-depression(1928) catalog by Bredel& Co. of Chicago Wholesale Jewelers and two 1934 post
depression(barely,maybe) wholesale catalogs by Aisenstein-Woronock of N.Y and The Harris Co. of Chicago.
Of course, all the prices seem cheap but what is relevant is the comparison of pre and not-post depression prices. What I found surprised me a bit. Example: Illinois 60 hour Bunn Spl in 1928 retail $60 keystone list $65-(wholesale
32.50) and in 1934 it was the same! It was hard to find identicle offerings but the prices
generally appear "flat" and did't decrease in these years.
The best investment watches from the era might surprise though. In 1934, the 23 jewel Vanguard up/down cased at 22.95 (18.95 uncased) seems like a good deal but don't get suckered.
My pick was the Big Bad Wolf PW with strap and fob in the box for 1.05 .You might get a thousand times that for the box alone nowadays.
In Sam's "cheap watch" catagory there is little offered for a dollar. Ingersoll Lapel
Sports were 77 cents (just noticed there's no cents key on my keyboard) and only 69c for an Ingraham "Dixie". (Sam, I've got an old 1890's
catalog offering N.O.S. fusee watches for 95c
each and will send you a xerox if interested).
Anyway, I realized years back that it was counterproductive(futile) for me to collect AND deal watches so I gathered up old paper about watches instead. The collection is paying off.
I've got pics of a gazillion watches I'll never own for my vicarious thrills.
-Cort

<(';')>
 

4thdimension

Registered User
Oct 18, 2001
2,554
291
83
Country
Region
Greetings,
If buying and selling watches accounts for a
fair percentage of your income, you may have
noticed that it seems to be a good time to be buying. Unfortunately, it can be tough to follow the curves in the market.
This evening, after advising another dot com
guy about his recent multiple collection aquisitions, I retreated to my basement and spent some time looking at old paper! What inspired me to write was a comparison of a
pre-depression(1928) catalog by Bredel& Co. of Chicago Wholesale Jewelers and two 1934 post
depression(barely,maybe) wholesale catalogs by Aisenstein-Woronock of N.Y and The Harris Co. of Chicago.
Of course, all the prices seem cheap but what is relevant is the comparison of pre and not-post depression prices. What I found surprised me a bit. Example: Illinois 60 hour Bunn Spl in 1928 retail $60 keystone list $65-(wholesale
32.50) and in 1934 it was the same! It was hard to find identicle offerings but the prices
generally appear "flat" and did't decrease in these years.
The best investment watches from the era might surprise though. In 1934, the 23 jewel Vanguard up/down cased at 22.95 (18.95 uncased) seems like a good deal but don't get suckered.
My pick was the Big Bad Wolf PW with strap and fob in the box for 1.05 .You might get a thousand times that for the box alone nowadays.
In Sam's "cheap watch" catagory there is little offered for a dollar. Ingersoll Lapel
Sports were 77 cents (just noticed there's no cents key on my keyboard) and only 69c for an Ingraham "Dixie". (Sam, I've got an old 1890's
catalog offering N.O.S. fusee watches for 95c
each and will send you a xerox if interested).
Anyway, I realized years back that it was counterproductive(futile) for me to collect AND deal watches so I gathered up old paper about watches instead. The collection is paying off.
I've got pics of a gazillion watches I'll never own for my vicarious thrills.
-Cort

<(';')>
 

Greg Davis

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Nov 29, 2000
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brokenbanknotes.com
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As one who does buy and sell watches (albiet more as a hobby and not for a living, as such), I can say that you are correct in asserting that now is a good time to buy. However, I have not yet encountered a bad time to buy.

Seems a little counterintuitive, I know. However, it's my observation that if you know how to shop there are always deals to be had, and there are always venues in which those deals can be converted to profit.

Consider these business models:

1) Buy in bulk lots, sell in individual lots. Very few people have a personal use for 200 or more of any given thing. If you buy in bulk lots (such as entire estates), you almost invariably get a much better per-piece price than you would buying each item individually. Even when the "bulk" lot consists of a dozen or fewer pieces, the price will still be lower than if the pieces were sold individually. Smart dealers see these bulk lots as a way to build in more margin for the things they sell.

2) Buy "distressed" goods and restore them. Watches that need cleaning or some minor repair are almost always a lot cheaper than their perfectly functioning counterparts. For some ironic reason, this is especially true if the needed repair is cosmetic in nature (i.e. replacing a smashed crystal). Getting quality goods that need a little work is one way to buy low and sell high.

3) Buy "blindly" on "faith". This notion is a little hard to accept (until it has worked for you several times). Ever see an auction with nothing but one fuzzy picture and a pathetic description that barely provides any information? If so, you've seen the potential for profit. It almost doesn't matter what is being sold that way, very few people will bid. If you win that auction and do nothing more than turn around and sell it with clear pictures and good descriptions you can very frequently make good money. Of course if you combine this with method #2 above you increase the profit farther.

4) Buy at flea markets, sell at antique stores. It's true that location is a factor in the value of an item... and it really has nothing to do with "overhead", per se. People who shop at antique stores simply expect to pay more for an item than they would at a flea market... and they do. There's usually enough money in the delta between flea market value and antique store value to more than cover the "overhead" and provide a nice, tidy profit.

There are lots of ways to make money buying and selling watches... some are more scrupulous than others. We know some folks buy the quality goods, dismantle them and sell the parts for more than the whole. While I would never advocate that approach, it does illustrate that for those driven purely by the profit motive money can be made in good times and bad.

Personally, I find it fun to sell low-end pocket and wrist watches in order to allow me to buy middling and high-end pieces.

- Greg

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Ch.149 member #77
 

Jon Hanson

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Aug 24, 2000
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but everyone, knowledge is king and KNOWING prices is maybe even more important! There are always buys and sells, i.e., someone selling and/or someone selling too cheap for the current market. All one really has to do is know the goods and know the market to make a profit.

BUT, serious money? Unless one is running a HUGE operation, dealing in other collectibles and coins and jewelery, WWs, antiques and paintings, etc. serious money or 6 figure incomes are difficult in the watch business. The buying end is the secret. Inventories are now very small as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Big Ritchie is an excellent example of a highly successful money making machine.

Most the the dealing that takes place on the small level is the "buying to build" ones collection. Why not "upgrade" and "keep the best" and "sell the rest?" (one of my well known and oft quoted remarks, thank you. :biggrin: )

Jon

Jon Hanson, NAWCC #8801
Founder and President Chapter 149, The Early American Watch Club

http://nawcc-mb.infopop.cc/eve/forums?a=frm&s=2386079361&f=4446088461