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Author Topic: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?  (Read 5966 times)

Offline Offshore

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Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« on: December 16, 2012, 06:13:33 am »
I would like to pose a question about pricing of Zodiacs, in particular Sea Wolfs, (and their components), being paid recently on ebay (and elsewhere)
I had shown here a watch I purchased recently- 261137848922, and felt it was a relatively good buy, in fact I had a higher bid sitting to secure it if required.
I note a similar piece currently listed, with an auction finishing soon-251197525919.
Now the first thing with this one is obviously we have some VERY poor photos, yet the watch has still reached $125.00 and will obviously go much higher before the auction finalises. The seller, whilst not gilt edged, has good credentials, but at what point do we as collectors throw away our collectors mantle, and just become total gamblers?
I am inspired to write this piece, as I sit contemplating exactly what snipe bid I place on this one. And to have some retrospect I will say now that my snipe bid will end in 0.87c, so if the winning bid is $XXX.87 its mine, so you can see where I draw the line between calculated collecting and straight out punting.
Obviously any bid in this is a punt, due to the poor quality of photos, but we have to acknowledge that any bid or win off ebay has an element of gambling.
I missed out last night on a 70-72 movement, ( I was underbidder- beaten by $1.00) Of course we never know how much the winner would have paid, but I thought my bid at just under $50.00 was verging on straight gambling anyway.

So I will be interested in the thoughts of the membership here...I have been following Sea Wolfs for a couple of years now, and have the sense that a frenzied wave of buying for these is building as reasonable quality  units become more difficult to obtain.

As we have here some dedicated traders who have followed this marque for some time, I am most interested if they see that this apparent swell in support is  different to previous increases noted.

Offshore
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 06:16:32 am by Offshore »

Offline Dutchsiberia

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2012, 07:53:08 am »
Being a cheap dutchman and an amateur tinkerer, I usually gamble, buying broken watches that are in cosmetically reasonable condition. For my budget the only way to obtain for example, an Astrographic SST. I was also bidding on the movement you mention. I think about what I want to pay, and put in a maximum bid. If someone wants to bid more, then I don't mind :)

I can see that at certain times, certain watches become very collectable (Seiko LCD's, vintage quartz watches) that were worth nothing a few years earlier. Think also about record players, game computers, even vintage cell phones. We all get older, and, hopefully, richer, being able to buy things from our childhood. Unfortunately, a lot of people have more money than intelligence. They think they buy a cool watch, while we see the aftermarket dial, the overpolished case etc. It's up to us to buy and rescue the worn but original examples, being helped by Butch's awesome site of course :)

Offline Butch

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2012, 08:03:22 am »
Here, here! Thanks you Offshore, nicely said.

Those are good pics man! Take a look at this comment: http://www.vintagezodiacs.com/zforums/index.php/topic,1713.0.html

I have been collecting eBay data for a while and even spoke of this elsewhere in the forum, the price of Zodiacs the past few years has risen quite a bit. The prices of Se Wolfs rose as well, but probably by another 30% or so ove the rising Zodiac prices. "Lucking" into a good deal is damn sure a rarity now a days. And often it is a battle dealing with the seller after it arrives and is "not as promised". As I have said before, eBay sellers think that everything old is work its weight in gold and is priced accordingly.

When I sell something it can have a high price. Factors like what I paid for it and then what the servicing and restoration (parts!) cost me. But then you get a fully restored, ready to wear Sea Wolf on a strap. Some are better than others and priced higher of course. The same goes for other sites like this one where they service before selling. (I like to think my prices are lower of course.)

On eBay lately it is not uncommon for a POS SW to exceed $100 the first day of a 7 day auction. And to actually get to $300 without much problem. AND THEN you get the privilege of having it serviced and restored. Sorry, not for me.
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Offline Offshore

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2012, 12:59:55 pm »
Well, another auction run and lost!
FWIW, I was the under bidder again at $187.87, a figure I don't consider to be gambling. ( But close to!)
And congrats to the winning bidder, IMO anything under $200 was calculated collecting, however we will never know the top end of the bid placed, which could , again IMO, place the bidding into the area of gambling.
Reasoning being, that a winning figure under $200.00 would mean the ability to recover the outlay by breaking the piece down and selling the parts. And maybe even banking a modest profit for the effort.
Also I had the luxury of having another similar watch, whereby I could amalgamate the best of the two, and come out the other end with  a very nice piece, and sell off the other one for at least what was paid.
Now I am in the fortunate position to be a watchsmith, so the servicing is not an issue, and even though the watch/es don't have an extra physical cost attached, I still value my work in servicing, and would attach a figure of $150.00 to the value of a completed watch, for my efforts.
So lets look at the $190 spent on this current one. Add $150.00 takes us to $340.00. I consider seals and grease as consumeables in this figure. If the crystal is beyond salvage we need to allow +/- $25.00 to obtain one (where possible) Again I have a nice collection of old crystals including a couple of Sea Wolf, but I consider that value ($25.00) realistic.
So now we have a watch owing a cost of $365.00. No allowance yet for any  exterior cleaning/polishing, (if we choose to do so) or $$ set aside to chase down any required movement parts, or worse still case parts like bezels, bracelet components etc.
So, again IMO, that watch is bordering on becoming a gamble should a part now be found to be required.
Which I guess is why I kept my bidding below the $200 figure in the 1st place, due in the main to the unknown factor due to the poor photos.

And why do I sit here contemplating all this?
Well last week I finally received another watch I had bid on and won...the photos depicted a largely complete an finished bezel..the fact is that the photos were misleading, and it requires replacement ( almost impossible), or finding someone capable of refurbishing it (which Butch has a lead on to explore in the New Year- Thanks!)
But I certainly wouldn't imagine I will get a refurb done under $100 and it will probably top $200 , if it indeed can even be done. So having paid a simiar price, just under the magical $200, the real question now is does watch #1 go through the refurb process, or is it time to send it to the watch breakers?
I guess the bezel refurb quote, if it becomes a reality, may answer that question.

So the warning which Butch has posted elsewhere in these pages, that collecting Zodiacs is not for the faint hearted, has a very real ring to it right now for me...thanks Butch, for at least allowing me to enter this little world, with eyes wide open!

Offshore.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 01:08:10 pm by Offshore »

Offline Dutchsiberia

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2012, 02:04:54 pm »
Not only with zodiacs :) Try to find an original 6309 or 6105 Seiko dive watch without paying a LOT of money. Allright, the mechanical parts are easier to find, but not the original dials, hands etc.

Offline smithrjd

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2012, 04:29:26 pm »
I have not been collecting for very long, but have owned several good watches from the '70's that I bought new. I was surprised at what they are worth now. To me anything off Ebay is a gamble, Buying basically sight unseen. My best buys have actually been the ones with poor pictures and little discription. One has to know exactley what is being offered and what one will pay knowing that a service will be at least $100 and up from there. Zodiacs are not yet as bad as say Omega's, but I am starting to see some rather bad Sea Wolf's as of late it appears that the money has now brought the redialers and the frankens out forward. Sea Wolfs now are at least $200 for a original needing service with no or not original band. Some of the other Zodiac's are not quite there yet but the days of under $100 for anything worth having seem to be over.
I have bought four Zodiacs in the past few months, 3 were in the $130 range, a nice original Aerospace GMT with original band and a silver dial, a gamble, a 1955 Glorious with box and papers, but the dial and hands are not in the best of condition, but it does run, and to me the best buy was a SST with a round case and original band that cleaned up well and runs well at $56. The last was an SS early Olympos with box and a Speidel white gold band that keeps time less than one minute off for two weeks.  3 of them should be back from Paul's next week. I will post pictures when they arrive.

Offline Offshore

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2012, 09:29:59 pm »
And ...Wow, 190768808860....not running, no case back...$110.00?
I bid just over $50 for the bits, and there were 3 "punters" after I finished.
That one goes straight to the gambling box IMHO.

Offshore

Offline smithrjd

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2012, 10:01:05 pm »
I was watching a pile of old Zodiacs from a watchmakers estate not long ago, mixed bag couple of Sea Wolf's Hermitc etc None were complete and togather went for much much more than I thought. Perhaps a watchmaker with other parts?? They are starting to sell for more than I think they should be worth. When one adds in a service even at reasonable cost, they would have been very expensive.

Offline Butch

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2012, 08:30:02 am »
Offshore's original entry prompted me to pull this together. I have worked on it off and on for the past 2 days. By no means is the following accurate, it is merely what I have to work with. (And probably way more that you do, right?) I took a sampling of 650 eBay auctions from my database that ran from mid-April to to Dec. of 2012. Then I eliminated all the non-applicable auctions (wrong model, did not sell, NOS dial only, case parts only, etc.) One thing to understand, these are auctions I tracked for one reason or another. An example is that if there is a beat to shit rusted Sea Wolf for sale, I do not add it in as I don't care about that auction. OK, having said all that I wound up with 146 applicable auctions out of the original 650 and here is what I have.

Model                            Number of auctions                        Average SOLD price
Sea Wolf                                119                                                $223.02
GMT                                        22                                                $196.53
Super Sea Wolf                         5                                                 $457.79

By no means is this scientific, nor did I capture every auction for these models from eBay during this time period. (Contrary to my wife's convictions, I do have a life outside of watches. Honest.) I can tell you that I was buying Sea Wolfs 10 years ago on eBay for $25, in good condition.
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Offline Offshore

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2012, 03:49:00 pm »
Interesting numbers for sure Butch.
And if we took into account  top quality vs lower, ie the top and bottom levels of the average, I'll bet the median sales figure for a better Sea Wolf is around mid $300's at least.
Which makes me wonder if we are at the top of a price cycle, or we will just continue to see natural increase?
Because, as already discussed, if you have a reasonable watch , purchased at say $250, by the time you have a service and some cosmetics into it, its owing mid $400's at least.
I view this, having previously collected Doxas, and having watched them spiral in price beyond the reach of anything but fanatical collectors.
My guess is that we will continue to see natural increases, but more in the area of middle of the road quality than top end.

Offshore

Offline Butch

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2012, 04:08:13 pm »
I think you really have said it quite well.  I know that I can rarely buy a watch that I can restore and resell at a meager profit on eBay. Some may have noticed I do not sell as many as I used to. My best quality watches for resale come from people who contact me and sell to me directly. Or in the For Sale forum here.

As for the numbers, they can be a bit misleading when you consider a SW with the band in the box with papers sells for $500+ and a worn but restorable SW went for $100+. Prices in that list are all over the place. Nor did I capture every SW for sale since April 15th.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2012, 04:16:33 pm by Butch »
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Offline aberlow

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2012, 01:16:10 am »
I was watching a pile of old Zodiacs from a watchmakers estate not long ago, mixed bag couple of Sea Wolf's Hermitc etc None were complete and togather went for much much more than I thought. Perhaps a watchmaker with other parts?? They are starting to sell for more than I think they should be worth. When one adds in a service even at reasonable cost, they would have been very expensive.

I am pretty sure i was the buyer of the lot you are referring to. I paid about $170 for an enormous lot of parts. all told i got 4 good 70-72 balance completes, 1 72b balance complete, 6 OCPs, 4 case backs, and a bunch of other useful gears, hacks, etc. Upfront it seems like a lot to pay for parts but if you figure the differential price between broken and fixed is say 50-60 then i can break even on that purchase quite quickly. I figured it would have been more expensive to buy 5-6 individual parts watches, and given current zodiac prices i was right. I think this purchase was somewhere well in between calculated collecting and gambling. 

Offline L. Ocle

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2012, 07:50:13 am »
Hi, guys

Long time without writing here. Just read all this interesting information. Not much to add, jut wanted to say that it has been the main factor which has made me slow my Zodiac collecting uses. Once you got all the interesting low to mid models... How can you get higher ones at prices they are reaching. NOt possible to me, so since I know it will always be a collection never to be able to end, my illusions went down.

I also noticed this rising in prices in the last years. Now I know I'll never own a SSW nor a Sea-Chron. Plus I still like to look from the other side, so when I sell I do it cheap. So I never get money back... Call me a romantic.

Offline jon p

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 09:35:28 am »
 :wehe   collecting any watch is really just a crapshoot---throw a price  against the wall and see if it sticks!!! i HAVE hit on some really great buys over the years, but few and far between. my zodiac collection really small compared to all you guys, i have limited funds being old and retired!!! i did luck up on a 1971 gold/ss GMT about a year ago, around $250., all original including JBC full lenght bracelet. excellent overall and serviced, a PLUS for sure! i was one of two bidders and i dont think the other knew what it was!! i also hit on a white dial SW at a very reasonable price, and then found a real good price on an original bracelet for it under $80. a 1990s automatic white dial  gold/ss SW for $175. 3 years ago was another good hit. the guy emailed me for 6 months trying to buy it back!!  it doesnt happen often but when it does IT SURE FEELS GREAT,dont you agree!? my zodiac collection is  at around 25 and it probably wont grow, i really have what i want and my intrest in target shooting .22 rimfires continues to grow. so many hobbies/ so little money!

Offline Butch

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Re: Calculated collecting, or just plain gambling?
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2013, 12:57:24 pm »
Here is a good example of what we have been talking about: 321049102513

$241 delivered, and THEN the owner gets the privilege of having it serviced and finding out if it needs any parts.
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