Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On time yet still too late / Is Paypal protecting the seller or the buyer?

On time yet still too late

Barry Trengove went from London to New York to be an art director for I. Miller, the classy American shoe company in the 1960's. He arrived on Friday and went to the office.
The company was moving over the weekend and he wanted to check on where to report on Monday.

Passing down the corridor, he noticed that the walls were hung with the original shoe illustrations done by Andy Warhol for advertising campaigns in the 1950s. The movers were shifting out furniture and had begun to stack the pictures in a corner. Finding the foreman, Barry inquired what was happening to them

"They will be thrown away tomorrow", he said.
"Um", said Barry, "I quite like them".
"Well," said the foreman, "come in the morning at nine, five bucks and they're all yours."

Barry didn't sleep all night. He was back there bang on nine. "Sorry," said the foreman, "the rubbish was collected earlier than expected."

[The art of looking sideways: Warhol's Shoes]

Is Paypal protecting the buyer or the seller?

This is a tricky question. In my opinion - and in the opinion of a number of sellers burned recently - the answer is: neither!

Let me just share with you a true event: a local (Sydney) seller has listed his Rolex on eBay. The watch was sold to another local - a buyer who was happy to pay with Paypal.

The money was transferred to the seller, and as a precaution, he immediately withdrew the money from his Paypal account to his personal bank account.

Shortly after, the buyer contacted the seller asking if it would be possible to collect the watch to save on shipping. The seller was happy to oblige - after all, the buyer was doing him a favor. Personal delivery would ensure that the buyer has received the
watch, the transaction would be settled, and the seller could not be liable or open
to eventual Paypal investigation due to non-delivery or loss in transit.
So our seller agreed to hand the watch over in person.

Again, as a smart seller, at the delivery, he took the buyer's details: copy of the driver's license, phone number - he even took the photo of the buyer himself -and his car! Done deal!

By the time he arrived home, there was an email from Paypal: the transaction has been reversed - and Paypal took the money back from his personal account (as they are allowed to do according to Paypal agreement). Reason: fraudulent transaction! The "buyer" paid for the watch with a credit card which belongs to the victim of an online fraud - and once the victim realised what happen, his bank contacted Paypal.

So our seller lost his Rolex to a local scammer.

Being scammed online is painful, but being scammed IN PERSON is even more so. If you think that Paypal is there to protect you, then think twice. (In defense, Paypal said that seller would have been protected if the watch was shipped, but not when personally delivered!).

Unscrupulous people are out there to outsmart you, me, innocent victims, the banks and Paypal.

Be careful who you are dealing with - both face to face and online, 'Having the Paypal money in your bank account' is no longer safe. The Paypal money is NOT real money! It is a mere agreement between Paypal and your bank, and in case of fraud, it could take months to determine who is the victim and who is the scammer.


Happy collecting,

Nick Hacko

'Mystery' Rolex Table Clock

Hello Nick
could you tell me please more about this Rolex table clock:
a value, how old it is and if there were many made?


Unfortunately, Rolex never made a table clock of the above design. The clock on the picture is a recent Indian or Chinese fake, it has no monetary or collector's value other than 'novelty' value ($5-10).

However the glass ball design is not a a novelty in itself; during the mid to late 1800s a number of French and British makers have produced similar pieces. Some of them were true works of art and highly collectable, but none of them were in the skeleton style or had a signed dial. In the tradition of clockmaking in that era, the maker's name was engraved on the movement.

Original French ball clocks are very collectable and desirable. Such demand created a market for fakes. The most popular variety is the signed "Omega" but other watch brands - like the above Rolex- are not uncommon. What they do have in common is the appearance: "aged" brass patinated frame, modified wrist or pocket watch movement of later production and dubious "mysterious" provenance; the package is designed to fool novice watch enthusiasts!

Monday, October 17, 2011



Among Chuan-tzu's many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. "I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.


"I dropped my vintage Rolex. Something is rattling inside and it no longer works. Could it be serious?"
"Yes. Sounds like a broken rotor, jewel or maybe both. Plus a general overhaul."
"How quickly can you fix it? I am in a hurry!"
"My standard turn-around time is 4-6 weeks. With bit of luck, three."
"That long?? It's only a bloody watch! Why would it take you so long to fix it?"
"What would you consider a reasonable turnaround time?"
"I was hoping you can do it while I wait."


I've found a link between apes and civilized men: it's us!

[1] Italo Calvino
[2] watchmaker
[3] Konrad Lorenz

PAM 1938: Media-magnet

Fine watches are magnet for media.

When things are slow and there is nothing to report or speculate about, you can bet your last dollar that tomorrow's top news is going to be "A Kitten Saved by Hero Fireman" or "Grandpa's junk watch sold for $100,000 on eBay".

In that order.

And yes, we get our share of calls from young (and seasoned) journalists wanting to "feature" our watches. Our usual reply is "Sorry, we are not interested, thanks for calling." In all fairness, would you hand over your finest piece to a total stranger
just because he claims to work for Channel 9 or In Style magazine? Yeah, sure.

This week was not out of the ordinary. I can't remember who he said he wrote for - BRW, Piping Australia, Melbourne Living or Dumbo Feather. ("Behind extraordinary ideas there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.") It would not matter anyway - the guy on the phone was as enthusiastic as they get.

What did set him apart, however, was his boldness.

After the 5 minute breathless monologue he finally got to the point:

"We are working on a special issue dedicated to fine watches and we would like to offer you a chance to supply a watch for a photo shoot. I can send my assistant straight away to collect it."

"Yeah, sure. Which one would be suitable" - I asked.

"I am very particular with this project and there is only one watch on your website that
would suit my requirements. Panerai Radiomir 1938."

"Good pick mate- you really got me excited now! There is only one small problem: the watch comes with a very peculiar price tag: it's called 'price available upon request'.
Which means it is worth a few dollars."

"Oh, we are not buying it, so for us, the price is irrelevant"

"Cool. But with all due respect, the price is very relevant to me because this beauty
owes me big bucks. It is what we call a liability. I mean, if it goes missing, the loss is mine, isn't it?"

"Yes, but I'll take special care and I'll wear it personally until it's returned to you".

"Now that you mentioned it, the watch is UNWORN, still in full plastic wrap so I guess this could be a problem when taking photos?"

"We will unwrap it. No problem."

"Sounds like you've got it all covered and planned. And am I going to be mentioned as
a watch supplier to the photo shoot?"

"Well this is not really a common practice, but if you insist, we can do that as well.
Mind you, we are not in the business of promoting other businesses; we are primarily interested in artistic / design side of the watch."

At that point I realized we went too far. He has obviously mistaken my cynicism for naivety so I had no choice but to break his heart.

"Sorry mate, I think I'll pass on your offer. I was just pulling your leg a bit; we are nothing but ordinary second hand dealers and you would be better off if you call an Authorized Panerai dealer to arrange for a similar watch."

"Thanks for wasting my time" he said. "You should have told me so straight away".

And he was right. I should have told him so - if he would only care to listen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yet another fake Italian Omega

A few months ago, I told you a story about fake Omega watches produced in Italy during the early 1970s. ( Link )

Well here is another one: this baby came in on Monday for a valuation. It came from the same part of the world, except this one was just a nasty, plain rip-off; probably the worst example I've ever seen.

While it looked fairly 'convincing' from a distance, the case back revealed the true origin: Il Ponte Rosso Special :-)

Base metal case back was enthusiastically stamped "18K gold", as well as the bracelet clasp.

Obviously this one was produced to fool only a drunken sailor at 4am.

So what puzzles me is this: why did they bother then to etch the movement with a fake Omega symbol? Like the sailor is going to ask "can I see the movement please?"
Yeah, sure.

Anyway, I've told the owner that the watch is not only a fake, but a bad one which is only good for educational purposes. He said: "You can have it then". To keep my promise, I'm sharing the photos with you.