Saturday, December 6, 2008

Online Markets, Auctions and Auction Houses...

As the holiday season rolls closer, we have the many factors to review. While I have always believed in the "two tier" concept of pricing, we have to examine how the big auction houses play into this concept. As we have seen in the past few weeks, Ebay has been way down. I have already posted some "new lows" which have been pretty fantastic. Yes, we all know the "quality" is not that of a piece with a 400% higher price, but I am sure there are some who can justify paying $25k for a red Sub w/papers...right?
In any event, here are some direct dealer to dealer transactions I have witnessed:
1655 w/service papers @ $10k to sell @ $11k
Tudor 2 reg MC @ $9k
Tudor Subs are flowing @ $2300
GMT 1675 @ below $3500
5513 200m @ 3k to sell @ $3500
Now most of this is not so out of pocket, in the real world. The real kicker is going to be watching the big auction next week.
The problem I and many others are having with the big auction houses is the general condition of the movement of these watches which are sold. My last experience was pretty common:
I bought a watch for a client, got it home and it was in dire need of a service. I am not talking a cleaning, but a full service with new parts to replace worn or rusted ones. Not a nice deal considering you pay an extra 20% in "hammer fees" to buy a piece. I am hearing this more and more and the truth of the matter is these auction houses are killing people with watches with AM parts and just plain "bum" movements. How would you like to buy a really nice dial and hands but then have to have your watchmaker take it apart and risk ruining your purchase?
Pretty crappy considering you are payuing top "tier" money. Yeah, there are drinks and red velvet cupcakes but come on, gimme a watch that is mechanically sound for my money!
There NEEDS to be an auction house that sells a watch, not a collection of parts. You see, a watch is running and it tells time. You know, that thing we used before we all had cell phones to give us this information?
In this really trying time for watches and other "luxury goods" it will be interesting to see how the big houses do as pricing begins to slip downward. Tier or no tier, 2009 will be tough for all sellers, Ebay, privates and the big houses. There has to be some level of quality which separates a good buy from a bad one at any level. The answer is to service the watch before putting it up for auction. Sounds easier than it is...or does it?