“Keeps Great Time!”: eBay Sellers’ Accuracy Claims Mean Little

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eBay is the best thing to happen to watch collectors since flea markets and garage sales. Where else can collectors find parts for their 21 jewel Gruen 335 project watch? How else would I satiate my need for a grimy Elgin 339 that I can clean and adjust to within an inch of its life?

But as watch collectors know, eBay is also where ignorance and avarice come together. Most of the vintage watches that are sold as “serviced and ready to wear” keep poor time when judged against our standards for adjusting watches.

As you delve into watch adjusting, you will come to understand what accuracy really means. And you will soon realize that all of these phrases in an eBay description mean essentially nothing:

keeps good time!
recently serviced
ticks nicely
a strong runner
cleaned, oiled, and ready to wear
says “Adjusted” on the bridge
works great

And, of course, the monstrosity that really must be banned:


Show Me the Data

Few eBay sellers take the trouble to seriously evaluate the accuracy of watch. And when they do, at most they test the watch in only 1 position—with the dial up (DU).

Even if sellers have a timing machine, they might not know how to interpret the output. The daily rate might be close to zero, for example, but the amplitude might be low, indicating that a cleaning is called for.

And some sellers, of course, are just messing with us.

The Moral

Unless an eBay auction describes timing results, assume that the watch is merely ticking.