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Beware, be Aware: Vintage Seiko Citizen

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  • Beware, be Aware: Vintage Seiko Citizen

    Hope everyone is having a great start of the New Year. I haven’t posted for some time, but thought I’d drop by as, shall we say, "There is a great disturbance in the Force." …and if I may, I would like to bring this to your attention.

    For those of you who frequent the international watch forums, you may have come across topics discussing the emergence, during these last few years, of eBay watch sellers based in India. These sellers, whether they are individuals acting independently or are part of a group, auction vintage watches, mostly Seiko and Citizen, but also many entry-level Swiss brands. Before I offend anyone, the Swiss brands I refer to are only “entry-level” in respect to their market position when these watches were sold new, i.e. during the 1970s. You can check them out for yourself through these links, in no particular order of distinction:

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?it...&_skc=50&rt=nc

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?it...efLoc=2&_sop=1

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?it...watches&_sop=1

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?it...hes1911&_sop=1

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/m.html?it...vintage&_sop=1

    To most of us who are relatively seasoned watch hunter-gatherers, it is clear as day what these watches are. They can be referred to traditionally as “Marriage or Wedding Watches”—though not of the holy matrimony kind—or the term that most of us use now, Franken-watches. Drawing a parallel with Mary Shelley’s fictional creation, Franken-watches are not just an attempt to resurrect a (as in “one”) dead watch—something which many of us do, to varying degree of success. Frankens use any salvageable, usable, barely usable, and often unusable parts from “many” watches, attempting to resurrect all these parts, all these watches, all at once in one timekeeper back from The Beyond.

    Anything these real life Dr Frankenstein are short of –you can’t seriously expect to find even one passable dial if all the parts had been sitting at the bottom of a river prior—they just fashion in their workshop, or where ever it is that they do their deeds. Just to be clear, I am not talking about vintage watches that have been re-dialed, i.e. had their dial repainted as a measure to restore an otherwise un-presentable or unusable dial, such as this:


    (Disclosure: A watch I sold on behalf of an associate many years ago, with full disclosure regarding the painted dial)

    Nor am I talking about watches fitted with aftermarket parts due to the unavailability or inaccessibility of replacement parts, such as the case we often see with vintage Seiko Divers, like this one currently listed on TradeMe:


    (Disclosure: I am merely using this as a local example. I do not know this trader, am not endorsing, nor implying any view on this listing)

    In both cases, there was only one watch involved in the restoration attempt.

    So, is it wrong to assemble Marriage or Franken-watches? …No, absolutely not! ...Recycling or reusing watch parts can be viewed as adding value, environmentally friendly, and their ingenuity shouldn’t be dismissed. However, misrepresenting them as an authentic vintage watch, or passing off as being a particular brand, model, or having a certain property or feature is not okay.

    These watches that you see listed on eBay are precisely that—an attempt to deceive, misrepresent, and twist terms such as “Professionally Refurbish” or “Original Dial Repainted” in the item description. While such play-on-words are smoking guns for buyers like us, the target audience for these listings would be much less informed. It is like trying to sell faux leather to people whom you know full well does not understand the meaning of "faux".

    From the examples on eBay, one sees many instances of vintage Seiko and Citizen that do not look anything like the case reference number on the back—easily researched using Google Image. Many carry misleading “JAPAN MADE” on the dial, with some even stamping “JAPAN” on the case back to match their false claim on the dial. Many use hands and applied logo that are fabricated, and carry dubious mismatch of parts in the movement, as well as odd spacers to hold the movement inside possibly incorrect cases. Why does eBay allow these monstrous creations to roam free? …Let’s look at the dangers of these put-togethers.

    To many of us experienced watch buyers, these Franken-watches are painfully obvious to pick out. We tend to think that Frankens are easier to spot than Replicas/Fakes, and even Aftermarket Reproduction parts are more difficult to the untrained eyes than Frankens. The truth is that, for non-collectors who happen to work in the jewellery/watch trade (jewellers, valuers, watchmakers), Replicas/Fakes and Aftermarket Repro are not that hard to pick out. Under an eye loupe, those with experience could see the differences between a genuine original and a replica or reproduction.

    However, these jewellers, evaluators, and watchmakers rarely verifies the existence of a particular vintage model—and discrepancy in older watches usually result in merely finding a model that closely resemble the specimen in their hands. A case in point would be if I were to simply obtain 4-5 authentic original watches of the same make, running the same moveme

    nt (say, a Seiko 7S26), and dissemble them, mix up their movement, case, dial, hands, bezel, and whatever else, and reassemble them mixed-up, I would still be able to obtain a valuation from a licensed evaluator. It is a sad scenario indeed.

    So, it turns out that Marriage or Franken-watches can be the most difficult to prove as being a fake, at least to those outside the watch community anyway. There is little any amount of complaint to eBay would do. While it is true that a large portion of responsibility lies with the buyers in not only researching the item they are about to purchase, but also the trustworthiness of sellers. Some may even argue that the buyers of these watches deserve to get conned, as a consequence of their lack of due diligence. However, this still does not make it right to pass these off as the real deal.

    The real and present danger, however, is what I am about to show you now. These watches from India uses eBay as its gateway to the world, and now we see it popping up in the hands of otherwise experienced watch sellers in other countries. Here is one I found in Japan—of all places!



    In my opinion, these sellers outside of India have no excuse to be passing these onto unknowing buyers. They have enough experience dealing in watches to know what is and is not authentic. And now, no thanks to some opportunistic local traders in NZ, they are on our door steps:


    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1237148485 )

    o
    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1237155952 )


    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1237160585 )


    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1238149834 )

    These are listed by TradeMe member “limejelly”, and have managed to stay unsold, perhaps due to the mention of the refurbished dials. Meanwhile another less-than-honest trader, “jono6”, has been running a couple of successful circuses in recent weeks.


    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1228188715 )


    ( http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/List...?id=1235342622 )

    This clown not only conveniently omits any mention of the dial, but also gets lyrical, sounding as if he is some kind of a watch connoisseur. Looking through his buying history and seeing familiar user names, jono6 does seem to know a thing or two about watches. This makes me more disgusted that such a person could mislead others and profit from others’ misery by passing on this item. And no! A dollar auction is never a justification to sell off a dodgy item.

    Dangers like this lurk in the corners, away from the watchful eyes of our Authenticate Me, and I know that those on this forum

    would never consider such a purchase—you’re all safe from it. Those that fall into the trap lack the knowledge and experience in purchasing vintage watches, and yes, this may serve them a valuable lesson. What keeps me up at night, though, is the thought that among those buyers, there may be some that buy these because they cannot afford even a $100 watch. These folks might be putting what small hard-earn cash towards this purchase—and it breaks my heart to see these buyers being taken advantage of by unscrupulous traders like jono6.

    Frankens like these on TradeMe hurt others as well. Many honest TM members offer up their old well-used vintage Seiko and Citizen, many listing in the range of $20-50, all authentic and just possibly needing some TLC. The Franken sellers take buyers away from these genuine offerings, and ultimately, if the market becomes inundated with these wrecks, it will hurt enthusiasts like us. Still, the most immediate misery falls upon the unsuspecting buyers.

    These unfortunate victims will not have heard of Timekeeper NZ, nor of you or me, but they are the very people who need our help. So please, if you see or know of family members, friends, traders you’ve dealt with, or anyone you have direct contact with bidding or buying these junks, let them know and protect them from the misery that comes with these Franken-watches.
    A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

  • #2
    Hi Don,

    The worst part is that they are now appearing on TM too.

    Cheers
    Tony Lewis
    New Zealand

    Comment


    • #3
      Great post Don, thanks for the information.
      “I want to touch base on how we’ll synergize the pivot going forward”

      Comment


      • #4
        Good to know you are still plugged into the watch world Don :thumbup: , and a very informative post . These cobbled together Indian watches are the bane of any potential watch buyer :x . A friend of mine a few years ago now, reported to me after holidaying in India, that he observed people in places like New Delhi, sitting in some of the dirtiest and busiest streets, with all their tools and paraphernalia putting these watches together. On speaking to some of them, they turned out to be ebay power sellers Obviously, eBay doesn't care whats being sold, as long as they are getting their "wedge". As is the way, increasingly of any internet auction site. Personally, I don't buy anything watch related from India, Argentina, Greece, Italy, or any former eastern block country. But unfortunately, plenty of people are, and while there is a demand, I think it will continue
        Preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance

        Comment


        • #5
          Great post Don, it is sad to see them turning up on TM and as you say, without the proper disclosure.

          For years we've seen the Franken HMT's and ironically enough, there is a lot of discussion about them in the affordable sections of other forums where these often sub $20 watches have become a hobby unto themselves.

          But that's exactly what they are, sub $20 Franken's. the scary part is the increased proliferation of Seiko and Citizen Franken's out there.

          I have also noticed that a number of these sellers are now manufacturing buckles and crowns for well known Swiss makes and these too are appearing on the domestic market!

          Thanks again


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          • #6
            Thanks for the informative post Don. Great to hear from you.

            Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk


            'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - but lets face it some people have better eyesight than others!

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            • #7
              Thanks for all your comments.



              Good to know you are still plugged into the watch world Don :thumbup: ,

              I’m plugged in, Alex—but you know, if you’re killed in the Matrix, you die here... :?


              …These cobbled together Indian watches are the bane of any potential watch buyer :x . A friend of mine a few years ago now, reported to me after holidaying in India, that he observed people in places like New Delhi, sitting in some of the dirtiest and busiest streets, with all their tools and paraphernalia putting these watches together. On speaking to some of them, they turned out to be ebay power sellers Obviously, eBay doesn't care whats being sold, as long as they are getting their "wedge".

              Yes, I’ve heard from others too, and it seems to be a similar situation in some parts of The Philippines. Now, just to be clear again, I am not criticizing whether these Indian Franken-watches should be made, nor how they are assembled. If I were to be born to the circumstances of those Indian watch repairer, I may very well be sitting on those dirty streets myself putting those watch parts together (while of course wearing a made-up Grand Seiko ). How great it would be if these Franken-wears were made to tick and just given either sterile dials or their own in-house branding (Diwali Time or some other cool names)—if they weren’t finished off in such a way as to fool people. :thumbdown:

              I understand that these activities will occur in places like India and subjected to the demand of the local buyers—most of whom may already be aware of the true nature of these watches. My main concern is that there is a lack of safety mechanism to prevent these items from spilling out and being exploited to another group of buyers who are not aware of these fakeries. eBay will not act, and nor will TradeMe, meanwhile innocent buyers suffer.



              For years we've seen the Franken HMT's and ironically enough, there is a lot of discussion about them in the affordable sections of other forums where these often sub $20 watches have become a hobby unto themselves.
              But that's exactly what they are, sub $20 Franken's. the scary part is the increased proliferation of Seiko and Citizen Franken's out there.

              Yes, you are well-read there, Brucy. Different forums have different ideas of what is acceptable, I guess. As you may know, I am personally all for affordables, but draw the line at anything involving trickery and exploitation, including Replicas. I don’t think any self-respecting watch enthusiast should cross the line, especially as there are tons and tons of authentic, genuine watches below $100 to be enthusiastic about—new and used Seiko, Citizen, Orient, any Chinese or Russian brands, vintage Swiss watches, and home-made sundials!
              A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

              Comment


              • #8
                Bloody good information, helpful & pertinent... just another typically detailed & very well researched post by you Don.

                Reminds me of a Ford Motor Car advert featuring a Fairmont equipped with 'Genuine Imitation Leather'.

                Great to see the Master is still watching over us, thank you Seiko Sensei





                A friend of mine a few years ago now, reported to me after holidaying in India, that he observed people in places like New Delhi, sitting in some of the dirtiest and busiest streets, with all their tools and paraphernalia putting these watches together. On speaking to some of them, they turned out to be ebay power sellers

                Harlan
                Timekeeper Watch Club
                Auckland, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, Earth

                Comment


                • #9

                  Bloody good information, helpful & pertinent... just another typically detailed & very well researched post by you Don.


                  Thanks, Harlan
                  A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

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                  • #10
                    Welcome back old friend ,
                    Glad to know you are still in the background watching over us .

                    Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son

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                    • #11

                      Welcome back old friend ,
                      Glad to know you are still in the background watching over us .



                      Cheers, Pete. Thanks!
                      A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Good to hear from you Don. Unfortunately I've also come across some of these people trading in the For Sale sections of watch forums of all places. What's even worse is that they are allowed to continue to do so by moderators of certain forums.
                        Like you Don I don't have any problem with old watches being saved from the scrap heap. I'd much rather they be given a second life than go into landfill. But they should really be presented and sold as what they are, not what some small part of them used to be.

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          Good to hear from you Don. Unfortunately I've also come across some of these people trading in the For Sale sections of watch forums of all places. What's even worse is that they are allowed to continue to do so by moderators of certain forums...


                          Hi Leroy... shocking, isn't it. Do you know what bothers me? If it were Franken-Rolex, Franken-Omega, Franken-TAG, these forums and their mods would be jumping up and down and not having any of it... why is it okay to cobble up Seiko and Citizen?
                          A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is why I really love this community as a newish member...so much wisdom and integrity. Thank you Don and others who have added to the discussion. I've looked at many of these 'vintage' Seikos in passing, as I do appreciate the design aesthetic of that era...I've just been plain lucky not to lose any money and this kind of warning is worth so much to new collectors. Thanks!!


                            Live long and prosper.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Possibly one of those Franken Seiko's. if I'm correct and I acknowledge the far superior Seiko knowledge on this forum that I doff my Cap too

                              This looks like it is a Japan home market case with an international dial. The dial codes relate to a 7002-700A case. I could be wrong though! But pretty sure I've got the info right.



                              Attached files

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