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Falling Pocket watch prices

Elliott Wolin

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This from a total beginner, probably not destined to be a collector in the conventional sense:

I personally enjoy fixing things and making old mechanical things work again, especially things that others would toss out. Clocks are the latest, I've recently acquired and am working on some nothing-special 400 day and cuckoo clocks.

My first (eBay) watch purchase a few days ago was a $4 New York Standard 7j non-working pocket watch missing the crown. Why? I figured I'd learn a lot taking it apart, cleaning it, and putting it together again (that is, if I can figure out how to do all of this, despite watching many online videos...so far I noticed a lot of oil inside this one and realized that I need better screwdrivers!). Getting it working again would be a nice bonus. If comfortable after this I'll work on some old pocket watches that have been in the family for 100 years, three working (just need cleaning and re-oiling), one not with a cracked crystal (no idea what's wrong, overbanked is a speculation from a knowledgable friend who briefly looked at it).

So my "collecting" has a different purpose than many others, it's totally uninformed concerning watch history and value, but totally concerned with my abilities to get old things working again and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into them, even if they are a run-of-the-mill mass-produced 7j pocket watch.

Backpackers say "Hike your own hike," I think the same sentiment applies to clock and watch collecting.
 
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bruce linde

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Collections should have a theme or purpose.
in your opinion...

I view collecting as a process, and every collection as the results of that process. collecting is as subjective a process as our posts here: everyone gets to do it their own way, and no one is more ‘right’ than anyone else.

It’s traditional to add ‘in bed’ or ‘between the sheets’ to fortune cookie fortunes in Chinese restaurants.

We should probably all remember to add ‘in my opinion’ or ‘as far as I’m concerned’ to our posts, to remind ourselves and others that every opinion expressed on the message board is completely subjective.

imho. o_O
 

Tiberius

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While this would be largely "entry level" items, it at least demonstrates a "theme" or purpose to the acquisition, and should be considered a collection.

I guess what I'm trying to drive here is that accumulations do not equal a collection.

Collections should have a theme or purpose. Some examples are;

-Manufacturer
-Condition
-Jewel Count
-Era
-Grade
-Country of Origin
I think we have to always be careful with how we define what we're talking about. To say that collections 'should have a theme or purpose' can be argued away by saying, 'the purpose of my collection is to make me happy'. Similarly, the theme is 'pocket watches'.

Everyone has their own rules they try to follow regarding what they buy and what they get rid of. The factors that restrict this are budget and space (and sometimes a well-intentioned spouse). It is these personal guidelines that we've strayed into discourse regarding, and that was what I was trying to say with my entry-level parameters.

One element which serves as a very serious multiplier to pocket watches (given the distance in time we have from them) is the condition. Condition affects everything in a pocket watch purchase, and this is where serious money becomes involved. It's easy (and I'm guilty of it too) to logically critique a collection that has several excellent movements but all are in shoddy, unserviceable condition. A watchmaker would find them of educational use, but a person who wants a daily carry would find them useless. Similarly, it would be easy to critique a collection that spends the majority of its time in a bank vault; an aesthete might argue that the watch only 'lives' if it runs, and if it's not running, what's the point?

I don't really take a side, but I try to understand both because I've felt the siren song of collecting in this and other areas too, but with enough research I've found that the reason collecting never 'finishes' is because it's core impulse is derived from an emotional instruction: what makes us happy?

As a final note, I don't think there's anything wrong with helping a person new to collecting to understand why certain watches are more highly prized than others, and why collectors might take years to find just the right piece. That's important to do, because it's about refining the knowledge of that person and help them to generate strategies for collecting that they can follow and eventually refine on their own. The danger we all have is in precisely how we communicate this, so that the student understands the why of collecting.

Thoughts?
 

Tiberius

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We should probably all remember to add ‘in my opinion’ or ‘as far as I’m concerned’ to our posts, to remind ourselves and others that every opinion expressed on the message board is completely subjective.

imho. o_O
I think we can safely assume everyone is stating their opinion.


Except for me. My statements are infallible!

That being said, once again we have to be careful. The opinions expressed on this message board are based on data and experience (the two combined create wisdom). There are experts here, some in very specific fields, and this changes the concept of every opinion being 'completely subjective'. I have to disagree with you on this point.

The more evidence one has, the stronger their argument, and the further away from subjectivity the statement becomes. This is why we rely on a trained eye or an expert hand when we are looking for answers.

Where we get into subjectivity is when we discuss the issues of what affects us emotionally regarding our collections; that's a totally different area and I would say that is where the discussions do become very subjective indeed. Thoughts?
 

Kevin W.

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I collect what i like. main interest would be a pocket watch or timepiece used on Canadian railways. But overall, if i like it i buy it.
 
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musicguy

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My point was to the new collectors here. I do believe that many collectors eventually
find out what they like the best and do focus on that. It still may have "no rhyme or reason"
to someone else's expectations but it doesn't have to as long as it fit's the collectors expectations.

I am not knocking being a focused collector(I do respect that a lot). I am not one in the traditional sense.
I have 0 size(and lower sizes) all the way up to 19 size watches. I have RR watches, Dollar watches, Private
label watches, Nun's watches, tokens from watch Co's, Pocket Watch Chains, Fob's, European watches,
Fusee watches, Jim Haney's(and others) love of Hamilton's made me a lover of them too.
Jerry Treiman(and others) got me interested in the 12 size and lower watches.
Dave Coatsworth(and others) made me appreciate Private Labels more. I love the
19 jewel jeweled barrel watches. So I can't judge anyones diverse collection(or pile of watches).

When a new member or someone looking for one time information
posts here, I like to tell them where their watch fit's in the "line up" of the particular
watch company. I learned this from Kent, and Kent usually posts a link to
a jobbers catalog or some real historical advertisement from that time period.
This gives the collector an idea of where their watch fit's in the watch companies hierarchy.
If people here are interested in studying watches in general, then the low jewel
watches are also part of the historical record.

I also like watches that look like they have been used, but I also
like ones in (almost)mint condition. I Like the solid gold and platinum
ones too(but don't buy them). For the amount I spent(out of pocket) on sending my kids through private colleges
I could buy any watch that has been posted on this forum(multiple times). So for me
it's not about the money either it's about having fun with it.
If it ever becomes a chore(or competition) than I will stop collecting.



Rob
 

Tom McIntyre

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I am not all that sure about what I collect, but you can see most of it at the link in my signature.

I did try for a time to be a dealer/collector but I discovered that buying is much more fun than selling so I gave up the selling. The no fun was largely lack of ability to make deals.

After 50 years of doing this I am still driven to buy almost anything that I have not seen before. My late friend Jerry Laux used to say he was always careful to sell everything for less than he paid for it in order to maintain his amateur standing. I find I can do that without even trying.

I do have sad memories of the time when we all thought and were told by our leadership that you could easily make lots of money by buying clocks and watches at NAWCC Marts and selling them in other settings to the "public." A lot of us bought rather large numbers of inexpensive early shelf clocks. Some of those who really believed that misinformation about the NAWCC still have their accumulations and are sad and angry at the loss of value. I am glad that most of us have now come to the position that the pleasure is in the collecting and not in the profits realized.
 

Tiberius

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Members,

Like moths we keep circling the flame, but never quite touch it. Thus, I have a rather provocative question or two for you all, given the direction this discussion has been taking.

Does the intent behind a collection require justification to the society of collectors as a whole? Furthermore, if so, is the intent to justify the personal rules of collecting followed in order to achieve an emotional sense of legitimacy of one's collection, either acknowledged by the collecting society or by specific experts in the field?
 
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bruce linde

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Of concern here is the general lack of advancement of many buyers within the last 20 years. It seems as though very few have "graduated" onto the more significant items, with their primary interest continuing to be to accumulate as many bargains as possible.

you state things like they're facts. what do you base this on? are you tracking buyers at the major auction houses? describing personal experiences when selling items? talking about at local chapter meetings or ebay sales? is this science or opinion?




I guess what I'm trying to drive here is that accumulations do not equal a collection. Collections should have a theme or purpose. Some examples are; -Manufacturer, -Condition, -Jewel Count, -Era, -Grade, -Country of Origin
and, once again, you are delivering your subjective perspectives as if they're matters of fact. 'should'? says who?

what if the theme is "these are the clocks i like looking at, regardless of value"? as in, dad was freaking out because he got diagnosed with cancer but then started collecting felix the cat clocks with eyes that move left and right... and loves his collection. it gives him something else to think about and makes him happy." or, what about the person who has a collection of only three treasured watches or clocks, left to him/her by relatives? aren't those both collections? (answer: yes).

i THINK what you're really trying to talk about is serious collectors with serious collections... which is fine, and a real thing... and probably a shrinking pool. and, i agree with you that every collection should have a focus or theme...

where we disagree is on what constitutes a valid theme or focus. i'm saying you get to decide for you, but not for anyone else. the reason i'm providing a counterpoint to your statements is that i want to make it clear to all potential new members reading this thread that everyone is free to collect their way and will get the support of the majority of members who share their passion.

as my clock mentor told me early on, "you'll figure out what you want to collect"... and i have... and continued to get better at it.

the more serious and experienced collectors among us should do everything in our power to encourage all levels of collectors to continue to collect, and to continue to collect smarter... and help them find THEIR way, not ours.

and... just to throw a monkey wrench in all of that.... who doesn't like a deal?!?! :)
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Although there seems to be a gulf between what I will call "eager collectors" such as Rob and Bruce, and "focused collectors" such as Bryan, I think the gulf is more apparent than real. Both share the collection obsession. They just collect different things. Because they collect different things, it is hardly surprising if they are only mildly interested in what each other collects. For example, my friend Mike collects lava lamps, megaphones, masks, race cars, corkscrews, folding hangars, and collapsible cups. He's bought an old American Legion post and turned it into his own museum. It's a hoot to visit, but I am not at all interested in any of the things he collects. Similarly, some focused collectors collect every variant of, e.g., Bunn Specials. I am not at all interested in those or any other RR watches, although I deeply respect such collectors' expertise. Likewise, the RR watch collector probably has little interest in my collection, which focuses on high-grade gentlemen's watches. I will say this in defense of focused collectors: because of their focus, they often amass a great deal of knowledge, which benefits collectors of all stripes Focused collectors should recognize that many eager collectors will not emerge from that stage to become focused collectors, nor should they.

So let's all enjoy whatever we collect. Focused collectors shouldn't denigrate eager collectors for their more catholic interests, and eager collectors shouldn't condemn focused collectors as too narrow or serious.
 

John Cote

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Bryan is being very nice to me. I agree with him that a collection is a group of watches (whatever) that tell a story. I suppose a random accumulation could tell a story to someone so...

What I think of as a collection would be something like trying to get all of the varieties 18s 17j Illinois Bunns...or all of the varieties the Hamilton 960 grades..or all of the 16s Elgin "lace doilies"...or maybe all of the 7j 16s Elgins or whatever. There are people who try to get a private label watch from every state. I know people who try to get the highest grade watch from every American manufacturer.

You could do all of the above and have a bunch of sub collections within your collection.

Anyway, collect what you like. If you simply like accumulating a lot of good deals so be it. Maybe the story is where you were or what you were thinking when you bought each of them. I agree with what Ethan Lipsig said above.
 

bruce linde

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I would have to call myself somewhere between eager and focused… I do have some stellar clocks in my collection. :)

It’s the passion that unites us, and the differences that enrich us.
 
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musicguy

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If you simply like accumulating a lot of good deals so be it.
This type of collecting doesn't last too long. And I think it's over simplifying someones collection.

The two ends of the spectrum of collectors are the scientists next are the people who collect
and learn about what they like(and become experts in their focused area) and last are the people who just
have a few they like to wear or got from their grandfather. And some are combinations of all these traits It's all good

The scientist goes further and deeper into understanding the watches they collect.
They don't just collect a subset of watches they study the evolution of a particular grade or
watch size or production methods or historical context or define what a particular
watch is and they back up their study with data(or historical documents). They write papers(or books)
on the watches they collect. Some do not even need to collect the watches they study.
They accumulate data about them(or print articles and prior writings) because it's not about even owning
them(for the scientist) it about understanding a process or creating a knowledge base.
Some people are a combination of both. Some just buy a few to wear them.

Humans seem to be all about self importance(and justifying what they do) but it's not about who is the most
focused or the least focused we are all accumulating knowledge. Some
take it a step further and hopefully this will be the knowledge base that
regular collectors can use to understand their watches now and into the future.

****This is what I see this place(our NAWCC forum museum bulletin library etc etc ) is all about.
creating a knowledge base for any type of collector to find and learn about their watches/clocks etc.****


I'm a little of both I like to wear some watches but I am also focused and learn and accumulate
data and have created a database about my own watches(and information
and historical documents on watches I do not own).


Two watchmakers I respect have told me they don't even collect watches
they just fix them(and one studies them and is a renowned expert in his area
of expertise).


Rob
 
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gmorse

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Hi Rob,

Two watchmakers I respect have told me they don't even collect watches they just fix them...
This is very much my approach, I gave up collecting a long time ago because I found that I couldn't afford the pieces I really liked. Now I have the opportunity to examine in minute detail, (much more intimately than their present owners can ever do), the work of Tompion, Graham, Mudge & Dutton, Earnshaw, Leroux, Kendall, Hammersley and the like, and help to preserve them.

Regards,

Graham
 

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DeweyC

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I was talking about you.:)


Rob
Rob,

Well said. Many people have collected artifacts that were of little value which later became keys to understanding. From fossils to jewelry. Americans in the 20th Century were very biased against "old" stuff. Hence, many watches were stuck in drawers or given to curious children.

I think we get on shaky ground when we try to apply personal conceptions to define "collection". According to the dictionary, it is simply a grouping of objects. The way I define my collection is not necessarily valid for another. Often, only the collector can see the relationship among the objects in the collection.

Like you, I prefer objects that reveal their age and use. I have little appreciation for things (watches) that look (or are made to look) new. I am not unappreciative of those who collect watches in "factory new" condition and in boxes, but it is not for me. I would never wear it!

FWIW, I collect and use pre WWI RR axes. Very low value but reveal a lot about the evolution of axe making and forging technology.

I think there is the cost of education in collecting anything. I go back to a tenant of learning theory; learning best occurs when the lesson is relevant. Once you hvae something, you become engaged and want to learn more about it. We see such posts almost every day.

I also think it is easy to conflate serious collectors and serious researchers. Not all notable collectors have produced knowledge; and not all researchers have/had large collections.

Finally, I would emphasize the there is a huge difference between historical importance and monetary value. Geology, fossils, etc. Dollar watch; late 19th century 15 jewel RR watches. Grubel-Forsey watches define the other end of the continuum for me.
 
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John Cote

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FWIW, I collect and use pre WWI RR axes. Very low value but reveal a lot about the evolution of axe making and forging technology.

I think there is the cost of education in collecting anything. I go back to a tenant of learning theory; learning best occurs when the lesson is relevant. Once you hvae something, you become engaged and want to learn more about it. We see such posts almost every day.
I love it!
 

bruce linde

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i’ve always thought dewey had an axe to grind, but think his summation is the best take yet.
 
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GeneJockey

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Members,

Like moths we keep circling the flame, but never quite touch it. Thus, I have a rather provocative question or two for you all, given the direction this discussion has been taking.

Does the intent behind a collection require justification to the society of collectors as a whole?
No.

The only person the collector needs justify himself or herself to is their Significant Other, since collecting often eats away at the joint bank account.

Furthermore, if so, is the intent to justify the personal rules of collecting followed in order to achieve an emotional sense of legitimacy of one's collection, either acknowledged by the collecting society or by specific experts in the field?
That, also, is solely up to the collector. You get to choose whether you care about anyone else's opinion of the legitimacy of your collection.

I do think that it's probably more satisfying to the collector to have some definition of their collection, but also I think most collectors come to that conclusion themselves.

Also, I don't know about anyone else, but in my case my collection kind of defined itself. What I mean is, each time I defined or redefined my collection it has always been around something that 'moved' me. For example, I didn't collect keywind Nationals, till one day I felt moved to bid on a 1871 BW Raymond. When it arrived, and I'd gotten it cleaned and running, I thought. "Okay, that's IT. I've got my keywind National. It's a BWR, and it goes well with my 571 (last BWR pocket watch grade), and my 730A BWR wrist watch."

But then I found myself still searching Ebay for National keywinds. A few years later, and I've got one of each Name Grade. And two early Stemwinds.

That's how MY collection grew, and why it makes me happy - I follow my muse.
 
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GeneJockey

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The other thing is, one can admire another's collection and their dedication to filling it without wanting to collect the same thing. I have one friend obsessed with the early Elgin/National stemwinds and another obsessed with the Elgin/National export models. I love looking at the pictures of their acquisitions and their enthusiasm when they describe them, without wanting to compete with their collections.
 
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Keith R...

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Falling prices allowed me to expand:


American collection
, Civil war era, brand based one of each, selected
Waltham's and Rockford's. 1859-1880.

European collection, Verges, English cylinders, rack levers, levers,
and pocket chronometers. 1763-1878.

Prime makers, Johnson, Tobias & Co., Barwise, Dwerrihouse, Samuels,
Roskell, Grantt and Colonial. Colonial includes Post Federal period, 1850-
1860).

Remaining Goals, Verge from late 1600's, early English chronometer
(1815 - 1820).

Keith R...
 
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Bryan Eyring

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In brief: Collections don't just "happen".

They require the following: self-discipline, intelligence, knowledge, strong relationships with other knowledgeable parties (even when those parties may share different views than us), and -depending on the nature of the collection - significant funds.

Like the Collyer brothers, most will merely amass and accumulate without (as John refers to it) a story.

Hoarding bargains does not a collection make!
 

GeneJockey

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I am reminded of the scene in "Throw Momma From The Train", where Owen shows off his coin collection, which at first seems to be simply about a dozen nickels, dimes, and quarters with no particular value beyond their face value.

Then Owen explains that this quarter came from when his Dad took him to a baseball game and bought him some peanuts and let him keep the change. The other coins had similar stories.

A collection needs only to be meaningful to the collector, whatever that meaning may be.
 

Elliott Wolin

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I am reminded of the scene in "Throw Momma From The Train", where Owen shows off his coin collection, which at first seems to be simply about a dozen nickels, dimes, and quarters with no particular value beyond their face value.

Then Owen explains that this quarter came from when his Dad took him to a baseball game and bought him some peanuts and let him keep the change. The other coins had similar stories.

A collection needs only to be meaningful to the collector, whatever that meaning may be.

Genejockey got it just right! My feelings exactly.
 
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musicguy

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Getting back to falling PW prices I just saw an Elgin convertible go for $16
and a Hamilton 935( 4590 made) go for $57
I did have them on my watch list but didn't bid on them.
I see watches I'm interested in that do fit my focus go for these prices
everyday.


Rob
 

grtnev

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Getting back to falling PW prices I just saw an Elgin convertible go for $16
and a Hamilton 935( 4590 made) go for $57
I did have them on my watch list but didn't bid on them.
I see watches I'm interested in that do fit my focus go for these prices
everyday.


Rob
Rob,

I (and I’m sure many of us) have observed similar examples.

Any thoughts as to why there was (or is) little or no buyer excitement for quality watches such as you referenced?

You’d think that there would have been multiple collectors of those examples who would have jumped at the opportunity to purchase them.

Thoughts?

Richard
 

Rick Hufnagel

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I think it's sporadic. It only takes two people to make something go nuts in price. Sometimes there just isn't two people. I also watch unexceptional movements go sky high in price on the auction site sometimes. I've had entire conversations with people trying to figure out why something went high, like I had missed something?!?!?! All depends on who wants it how bad and if they have a pile of cash. Stuff is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, no matter what any books or sources say.

Millions and millions of watches made back then. Dwindling numbers of collectors today. How many want a particular watch? Who's ready to buy? Who will buy where? Never know

Maybe everyone who wanted a convertible Elgin that day, had one. In reference to your example.
 

Rick Hufnagel

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I bought a watch recently that I had researched pretty well. Mostly on the message board here. I emailed another member here and asked them to make sure I wasn't missing something, I felt It was sold to me at a price that did not make sense.. Turns out I was just paranoid, and that's what the watch was worth, much lower than I thought it would be. I'm not complaining mind you, I really like the watch and the price I paid for it was very fair.

Then I see a beat up PSB k.w. that looks like someone cleaned it with a grinder and it shoots through the roof in an auction.

Like I said, it just seems sporadic.
 

DeweyC

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Rick, and Rob,

It is not too surprising to me. I think the mass-produced watch market was influenced by resellers and speculators. There used to be many of these present at Marts. While their numbers would be expected to track general interest, I think they always had an oversized influence on supply venues like Marts and ebay. So watches that in the past would be snapped up by someone who would say "I can make a profit on that " linger. OTOH, collectors already have the example they want and are not interested in yet another.

We already discussed why people are no longer interested in collecting artifacts related measurement and how we got here.

Sadly, my explanation provides no useful direction on actions we can take. CRACK goes the buggy whip!
 

musicguy

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When I first started collecting I paid $60 for a 7j low grade Elgin pocket watch..
At the time I thought to myself, "WOW" what a great watch and how beautiful it was.
I didn't have any mentors or collectors guiding me or any knowledge of mechanical watches, I just wanted an old
pocket watch like my father had given me as a kid.
I thought I had gotten a great deal. I showed it to my wife and friends any they were all impressed with
this shiny(silveroid) watch I had(I was now hooked on them). I also paid $450.00 not long after this for a 992b
which I thought was a lot at the time but I had to have one of these so called "greatest" RR watches
that I read about. My wife for the Holidays that same year bought me
"The Complete Price Guide to Watches" a book I had seen in the local Library.
This is where my learning about pocket watches began.

Knowledge and experience is the key factor. When a collector acquires some real knowledge
about what they collect their collecting changes completely. Yes I do take some flyers and buy blind but that's
a very small percentage of my own collecting. I also(and this may be a mental problem)
like to buy nice watches that may be basket cases and bring them back to life
to their original beauty. It does cost more than finding one that is original and functional
but I guess that's my own psychosis. I do favor original cases and dials.

So why do we find so many great deals(like many of us see all the time). It's because
in addition to falling prices(and demand) we have acquired the specific knowledge to find and identify them.
I'm not saying prices have not fallen dramatically but our knowledge of the market
and what we collect lets us eliminate the background noise of watches we
don't collect and can focus on the ones we do.

It's not easy to pass up the "good deals" either(because they are so prevalent). This past
year I didn't need any more B. W. Raymond Watches(I had what I thought was appropriate for my collection).
I saw a double sunk 1870 National Watch Co. that was running in a beautiful coin silver case(I believe to be original) with fleur de lee hands
I paid about $67 dollars for it. I didn't need it, but I couldn't pass it up.
Now it's one of my favorite watches in my collection.

I have learned my lesson(somewhat;)) I still love the excitement of the unknown,
but I see these deals everyday(of really nice watches I may want) and can't buy all of them or I would be broke
and I would have a pile of watches (but they would be nice ones).

I am willing to pay higher prices for watches I really want that fit into my
area of interest too.




Rob
 

Tiberius

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Tiberius, Very well spoken, you are a man of wisdom well beyond your years. Maybe it is because I came from an automotive background that I can appreciate the way things are designed and built that makes me collect these mechanical wonders. Too bad these days we are in a minimalist society that does not embrace the accomplishments of the past.
Mr. Nicholson - you're very kind; hopefully I am approaching wisdom, as the path is quite uncertain at times. I too love the ingenuity of what mankind can accomplish, and I think it's miraculous that we have in our hand or on our wrist a little machine that turns time into something quantifiable. That's a testament to our intelligence as a species, and given how long humans tried to perfect the measurement of time, I do find it a little sad that today it is taken for granted that we can tell time so easily. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to mechanical watches.

Rob,

I (and I’m sure many of us) have observed similar examples.

Any thoughts as to why there was (or is) little or no buyer excitement for quality watches such as you referenced?

You’d think that there would have been multiple collectors of those examples who would have jumped at the opportunity to purchase them.

Thoughts?

Richard
As a firm indicator of my lack of knowledge, I had to look up the watches that musicguy was listing...I had no idea that the Hamilton 935 was so treasured (I had thought the 950 would be more), and I had no idea what an Elgin convertible was (assuming it wasn't a vehicle from the 1960s). I think this is where the biggest problems begin; the pocket watch world is HUGE in terms of what is required to understand what is valuable and what isn't, just on a baseline. Complications make it easy (an up-down indicator always goes for more), but after that we get issues such as scarcity of movement and production, variations in different configurations, and of course the condition which affects everything. Then we still have to consider what collectors are looking for, as that will drive up prices anyway. Then we pile on what newbies like myself look for based on what information is easily available and 'generic'.

It's a tough one: if the education were more widespread, then the prices for items considered collectible would be far higher than they are now. But without the education, it's possible for newbies to be 'taken for a ride'. A tough situation.
 

musicguy

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Lots of speculation here but very few facts.
Thanks for understanding my post , you are absolutely correct it is speculation
that we are all doing here. Speculating and having a discussion.
If you want to dispute the fact that pocket watch prices have been falling, I do
have multiple graphs on auction prices and sales volume from all the major companies
based on eBay sales since the beginning of 2012 to mid 2019. I'm not sure if
I have the right to post them here, but if the person who collected the data
wishes to(and they are a member of the forum) you will see it's plain as day.
In addition they have told me that 21 jewel watches which always remained
fairly steady have also declined in recent years. The question of
"why it is" will always be speculation just like you have pointed out.

Have a great holiday!


Rob
 

GeneJockey

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In the watches I collect, it is as Rick said, sporadic and yes, it only takes two to make a bidding war. Example - recently I determined that I needed an Elgin 571 in the 3057 stainless steel case to complete my collection of 571s. I hadn't seen one in months. Then one popped up and I set what I thought was a really high snipe for a 571 - significantly more than I'd paid for any of my others. Somebody beat that, and took the watch.

A month later, there were THREE of them on Ebay at the same time, even with much lower BIN prices, languishing. I picked one of them up for $120 less than my snipe, no competition. I cleaned up great and is now one of my favorite carry watches.

Basically, I think our market is small, and for brands and models that aren't "what everyone wants", VERY small, but driven by people with a fair amount of funds to go for particular pieces.
 
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Bryan Eyring

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Firstly, I don't dispute that values have fallen as a whole. However I think there are a lot of Chicken Littles on here who (likely for personal gain & satisfaction) are intentionally denigrating the market.

Based on your response it does not appear that you and others are completely considering all the variables. Further, if you are cherry picking data points then the set presents little value.

Unless you are taking condition, marketing, variants, serial numbers, and other impactful variables into consideration your efforts will never properly quantify the market changes.

It does not sound like these variables were considered, in which case the data is questionable, at best.

Please share the ebay listings you identified as well as the data.

Thanks for reading.
 

musicguy

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However I think there are a lot of Chicken Littles on here who (likely for personal gain & satisfaction)
are intentionally denigrating the market.
There is absolutely no need for you to denigrate anyone else's opinion here.
We can disagree without calling names. Instead of that, why not tell
us stories about the watches you are selling(or collecting) for more than in the past, or some
of your own personal experiences.

There are absolutely sections of the market that are doing very well. I think the point of this thread
is not to denigrate the entire market(or any of it) but to talk about the segments that have been effected. I have
watches that would sell for more than I purchased them for, gold and precious metals also rise
and fall in value. As you say there are many different factors.




Rob
 

bruce linde

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However I think there are a lot of Chicken Littles on here who (likely for personal gain & satisfaction) are intentionally denigrating the market..

i would remind all of our message board rules, the FIRST of which is:
  • Stay on topic, not on people. Be kind and courteous:
    • Start a new thread if you have a new subject or topic to discuss. Respect all users, organizations, and businesses. References to businesses, services, or other users are limited to personal experience only. Personal attacks and derogatory remarks are strictly prohibited.
if you (generic) can't post without talking about someone else... don't post. appreciation and acknowledgements are different, of course.
 

bruce linde

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Wow. Is the term "Chicken Little" REALLY that offensive to some?
If so just remove it from my post.
I didn't realize the sensitivity here was so high.

yes... and that's been a problem. two moderators called you out immediately. your post was reported by multiple members, who pointed out a clear violation of the rules... and creating more work for the moderators.

i would ask you: what part of 'Personal attacks and derogatory remarks are strictly prohibited' is unclear?

fyi, here's how your comments come across:

"chicken littles" - denigrating term for anyone deemed too conservative (in the eye of the perceiver)
"likely for personal gain" - insulting
"intentionally denigrating the market" - what's a word for half way between 'baiting' and 'insulting'?
"it does not appear that you and others are completely considering all the variables" - i'm smarter than you
"i didn't realize the sensitivity here was so high" - you are all a bunch of thin-skinned wimps
"you can just delete the phrase from my post" - it wasn't just the phrase, and it's YOUR responsibility to post appropriately
again, if you can't discuss the topic without discussing others... don't post.
 

Bryan Eyring

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As Charlie Brown would say during this season...Good Grief!

Chicken Little is a euphemism for an individual who believes the sky (in this context, the market) is falling.

How in the WORLD does someone get offended by THAT?

Your characterizations of my posts are erroneous and highly extrapolated. They are also yours, and yours alone, I cannot help how you perceive my comments.
If you want to look through them with the lens of an offended admin then I cannot help that.

I was asked for facts and specific data points, I provided them. Seems now that when I ask for facts in return people get offended.

Decoupling this discussion from its participants is impossible - the individuals posting here are intertwined with the discussion.

It clear that the admins are just upset about having their homerule challenged again!
 

musicguy

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Bryan(said in a respectful way to you):

Please stop. There is no reason for us to be fighting on this thread. If you
have any problems with what I have written or anyone else here
please use the Report feature and explain what your
objection is. We will take it seriously. That is how we resolve conflicts here.
If you feel I have started this thread for personal gain like you have said please
hit the Report key and the moderating team and forum administrator will review it and respond to
your concerns. If you need to respond to me or the moderating team
please do so by PM.


Thank you and happy holidays
Rob
 

DeweyC

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Rob,

As we have talked, culture is everything and we all have the responsibility for maintaining it. I understand we all have our neuroses and quirks, but sometimes we act out in ways that dissuade others from contributing. As I told you some time ago, I have found that some prefer to stay behind the scenes out of fear of troll attacks and have very significant contributions to make. And the trolls make an environment where these "lost" contributors just say "why bother".

I am not referencing anything or anyone in this thread, but it is not just up to the moderators to protect this venue.

I think the moderators (ALL VOLUNTEER!!!) do a great service and I am sure they get at least a dozen complaints they must deal with each week. And a lot of petty stuff too. I am surprised people stay in the position for more than a month.

WE should be monitoring our own posts to avoid creating work for them. At some point I would not be surprised to see the moderators go on strike and the forums be closed for a spell. Like pulling over the van until the kids stop bickering.

Some might not feel it is my place to say these things. But I DO! And it is yours as well.
 

Lee Passarella

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Well, to get this thread back on topic (although it has meandered a bit, but that's probably all right), I'd like to note that even if you do decide to concentrate on one or more areas of collecting, study is the key. And after several years of collecting, I'm not fully there yet. When writers on the forum speak of rare watches they have managed to land, I'm not entirely sure how they know they are rare apart from the "Complete Price Guide." Perhaps as dedicated long-term collectors, they have access to information beyond this source.

As forum members always say, education is the key, but it's not always clear, even to those who have collected for a while, what the sources of this education are and how they can direct one to rare and scarce specimens of pocket watches a collector has decided to concentrate on. I guess that knowledge takes years to acquire, but if there are some shortcuts to that knowledge, I'd be very appreciative to learn about it.

Another truth to mention is that even more experienced collectors can take chances that don't pan out--in fact, are almost in the category of rookie mistakes. I made one recently; luckily, the watch was defective, so ultimately, I wasn't on the hook.
 
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musicguy

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I'm not entirely sure how they know they are rare apart from the "Complete Price Guide.
Hey Lee,
The price guide is a great but a flawed resource. I do carry one to marts because I may not
have access to a computer (and one of our Marts has zero cell phone reception to look up
watches). But depending on which watch companies you collect there actually are
a lot of great online databases here at the NAWCC and many others as well. When I see a watch online(or anywhere)
that catches my eye I always look up the serial number and find out the year made, how many were
made, in some cases like Hamilton I can actually see the date finished and the the date sold
and who it was sold to. I also look at the Jobbers catalogs(one of my favorite resources) and old advertisements
and see what the lineup of watches are at a specific time period. Manytimes
I also use the search feature here and search for a particular grade watch
and read as much as I can on them(I use this all the time). I have ebay email alerts so that
I know when a particular watch is for sale there. Sometimes I don't
get a hit for months and months but then one becomes available(but it may not be
what I want and I keep waiting). My email is filled everyday with 20 or more ebay alerts
for different watches, cases, dials, hands etc that I always keep an eye on.
It takes a lot of work.

For RR watches Kent and rrwacthes The Rairoaders Corner https://nawcc.org/index.php/watch-a-clock-bulletin/railroaders-corner-main-page
teaches you everything you would ever want to know about RR watches.

For 12 size watches(and smaller) read anything that Jerry T posts.

So many people here have helped me learn(and pointed me in the right direction).







Rob
 
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Lee Passarella

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Rob, the basic information you provide could be a help to starting collectors. It might be a good idea to work it up into something that you could link to when folks ask for collecting tips. Thanks for sharing this.
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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This thread has gotten way off target. I would like to redirect it to the original subject, the issue of falling PW values. Many posters have expressed their dismal view of the market, but few have provided any empirical evidence in support of their views. I want to challenge those of you who believe values are dropping to provide evidence.

In my firstposting (#4), I provided empiric evidence that, at least in the segments I collect, PW values generally have been stable.

Just now, I did a little research in the Jones Horan auction archives to see if prices are falling. I looked at prices for platinum C.H. Hulburds, solid gold C.H. Hulburds, solid gold AWCO Model 1872s, and gold-filled Hamilton 946. I looked at the first three because I seriously collect them. I looked at Hamilton 946s (which I don't collect) because I wanted to see price trends for a widely-collected mass-produced watch not precious-metal cased. Here is what I found (the years are sales years).

Platinum C. H. Hulburds
2019 $1700
2013 $2600
2002 $1200
1997 $1800

Solid Gold C. H. Hulburds
2010 $1400
2010 $950
2006 $1600
1999 $500
1999 $1000
1998 $800
1995 $625

Solid Gold AWCO Model 1872 (non-sawtooth models)
2019 $2800
2018 $3800
2017 $5000
2010 $3200
2010 $5000
2009 $6000
2008 $4500
2006 $5000
2006 $4400
2004 $6440

Hamilton 946 (excluding solid gold cased examples, "extras," or other specials)
2019 $450, $500, $800, $550, $550, $700, $700, $700, $475
[1998-2018 skipped]
1998 $600, $600, $850
1997 $750, $650, $600
1995 $470
1994 $450

Although these aren't representative of all segments of the market, the conclusions I draw from this little exercise are that:
  1. It is really hard to judge whether prices are declining from small sample sizes (like the Hulburds and the 1872s) because so much of value depends on condition, unusual features and demand.
  2. For precious-metal cased watches, values to some degree reflect metal values. Those values rise and fall for reasons that have nothing to do with watch collecting.
  3. For that reason, a more reliable indicator of value likely is the selling prices of common collectible watches (like "regular" Hamilton 946s) that are not in precious metal cases.
  4. Those Hamilton 946s fetched between $450-$800 at Jones Horan this year. 12-15 years ago, those Hamilton 946s fetched $450-$850.
  5. Based on this, I'd say prices for ordinary Hamilton 946s seem not to have changed much since 1994.
  6. It is hard to generalize from the small sample size of platinum Hulburds. Their prices seem more to reflect the individual merits of the watch than a price trend.
  7. In contrast, the solid gold Hulburds seem to be modestly trending up in value.
  8. The solid gold AWCO 1872s seem to be slightly trending down in value.
I expect that if we had real market data on particular models that we'd find some models of PW are trending up in value, some are stagnant, and some are declining in value. It may well be that some segments of the market are in serious decline. Perhaps the bloom is off the rose for many of the commonly collected railroad watches, or for certain brands.

What would be worthwhile is actual analysis of market prices trends for specific models of watches, rather than more expressions of gut feelings that the market is declining.
 
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musicguy

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I should have made it clear that I'm not talking about all segments of
the watch collecting market(or clock). I do know that some are doing well.
I thouht that this had been discussed earlier in the thread. I'm not saying it's
the end of watch collecting. I think Ethan above made some very good
points about the segment of the watch collecting market he has had experience in.
For me this thread has run it's course and I will not be posting in it anymore.

I am not here for the value, I do not sell watches for a living or even
side money, or even repair them as a livelihood.
I still own most of the watches I've purchased. I'm
here because I love pocket watches and like to discuss them
and learn about them.

Happy Holidays to all


Rob
 

Rob P.

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This thread has gotten way off target. I would like to redirect it to the original subject, the issue of falling PW values. Many posters have expressed their dismal view of the market, but few have provided any empirical evidence in support of their views. I want to challenge those of you who believe values are dropping to provide evidence.

In my firstposting (#4), I provided empiric evidence that, at least in the segments I collect, PW values generally have been stable.

Just now, I did a little research in the Jones Horan auction archives to see if prices are falling. I looked at prices for platinum C.H. Hulburds, solid gold C.H. Hulburds, solid gold AWCO Model 1872s, and gold-filled Hamilton 946. I looked at the first three because I seriously collect them. I looked at Hamilton 946s (which I don't collect) because I wanted to see price trends for a widely-collected mass-produced watch not precious-metal cased. Here is what I found (the years are sales years).

Platinum C. H. Hulburds
2019 $1700
2013 $2600
2002 $1200
1997 $1800

Solid Gold C. H. Hulburds
2010 $1400
2010 $950
2006 $1600
1999 $500
1999 $1000
1998 $800
1995 $625

Solid Gold AWCO Model 1872 (non-sawtooth models)
2019 $2800
2018 $3800
2017 $5000
2010 $3200
2010 $5000
2009 $6000
2008 $4500
2006 $5000
2006 $4400
2004 $6440

Hamilton 946 (excluding solid gold cased examples, "extras," or other specials)
2019 $450, $500, $800, $550, $550, $700, $700, $700, $475
[1998-2018 skipped]
1998 $600, $600, $850
1997 $750, $650, $600
1995 $470
1994 $450

Although these aren't representative of all segments of the market, the conclusions I draw from this little exercise are that:
  1. It is really hard to judge whether prices are declining from small sample sizes (like the Hulburds and the 1872s) because so much of value depends on condition, unusual features and demand.
  2. For precious-metal cased watches, values to some degree reflect metal values. Those values rise and fall for reasons that have nothing to do with watch collecting.
  3. For that reason, a more reliable indicator of value likely is the selling prices of common collectible watches (like "regular" Hamilton 946s) that are not in precious metal cases.
  4. Those Hamilton 946s fetched between $450-$800 at Jones Horan this year. 12-15 years ago, those Hamilton 946s fetched $450-$850.
  5. Based on this, I'd say prices for ordinary Hamilton 946s seem not to have changed much since 1994.
  6. It is hard to generalize from the small sample size of platinum Hulburds. Their prices seem more to reflect the individual merits of the watch than a price trend.
  7. In contrast, the solid gold Hulburds seem to be modestly trending up in value.
  8. The solid gold AWCO 1872s seem to be slightly trending down in value.
I expect that if we had real market data on particular models that we'd find some models of PW are trending up in value, some are stagnant, and some are declining in value. It may well be that some segments of the market are in serious decline. Perhaps the bloom is off the rose for many of the commonly collected railroad watches, or for certain brands.

What would be worthwhile is actual analysis of market prices trends for specific models of watches, rather than more expressions of gut feelings that the market is declining.
I find that the market for "ordinary" watches is up rather than down and has been going in that direction for the last couple of years. Not radically, but steadily in small increments. "RR Grade" isn't seeing this as far as I can tell, but the 15-17 jewel movements in nice cases seem to be selling for decent prices.

I think this is because, like myself, most people cannot justify buying a solid precious metal cased high-end watch. Yet they can buy a nice gold filled example 1 or 2 notches below "top shelf" at only 1/4 the price. That drives demand and demand is always the final component for pricing a product.

Seasonal changes also affect prices. Right now, it's the Christmas crazies season and the price for smaller sized watches is high. That will change as it usually does after the holidays end.
 

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