How do I search for Personalized Watches?
I have purchased all of my watches from eBay; it’s the world’s marketplace. Once you learn how to search for vintage watches – and how much to bid -- it’s a great place to shop. (I'll add a "Searching eBay" video soon....)"
I always quickly research the watches prior to bidding on them -- it usually takes less than an hour to get a good idea if this is a watch with a wealth of provenance....
What do the watches cost?
Generally speaking, very few people bid on the personalized watches that I love to find. Most of the watches are estate finds or from abandoned storage lockers -- they're not in great shape or particularly attractive -- and the sellers are usually just trying to get rid of them. I have paid anywhere from $15 to $450 for the watches, with an average of around $100 -- which I consider quite reasonable for a unique piece of history!
Returning Watches to Original owner or their Families
“You never actually own a watch – you merely look after it for the next generation”
Returning a old watch the owner or his family is more difficult than it might appear! If the owner is still alive (which is not very often….), I search Ancestry.com or the Internet until I can find current contact information, and then write a letter (or directly call them) – and see if I can interest them. The only watch I returned to the owner was Navy veteran Louis Cinfici’s 1946 Benrus.
To find the owner’s descendants, I search for their Ancestry.com genealogy (“Family History”), and send a message to the person who created it. I also look for the owner’s obituary or other information that mentions descendants – children, grandchildren, et al. When I find a current email or address, and send a detailed message indicating that “I am a vintage watch collector, and I recently purchased a watch on eBay that may have belonged to your (father / grandfather…..). Please see photos below. I would like to return this watch to the family (at no charge…), if you are interested, call or email me at …………”
My first repatriation was the 1944 Holux WW2 pilots watch. As fully documented under the WW2 menu, this watch had the name of six Air Force pilots who were part of the “Class of 44-A” beginning at Santa Ana Air Force Base (SAAAB) California. It took four years (2015 – 2019) to complete my research; it wasn’t until the Fall of 2019 that I was able to contact Major Donald Kitzman – the only WW2 survivor. In 2016, I returned the watch to the great-nephew of pilot Benjamin Brew (who was killed in 1944 flying his P-47 Thunderbolt).
I have also returned watches to Louis Cinfici and the family of Chikara Masuda.
I look forward to returning more watches in the near future....I'm merely looking after them for the next generation...