Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flipping Watches for Fun and (Sometimes) Profit, Part 2

Continuing from where we left off in the last post, here's the info from the purchase and sale of a Japan-only Omega Speedmaster Reduced with sunburst blue dial:

Example #2: Omega Speedmaster Reduced 3512.80
Purchase Price: $1400
Sale Price: $1649

While the net profit from this flip was about the same as the one from the Explorer I, it represents a much larger gain when viewed as a percentage of the purchase price - 17.7%, compared to 6.4% for the Explorer I.  The explanation is that the Reduced "Japan" model is not only discontinued, like the 36mm Explorer I; it was a limited edition of 1,500 that was only sold domestically in Japan.  That limited quantity, coupled with the stunning blue dial that was only available in this particular model, makes potential buyers far more willing to pay top dollar for a used example in good condition.  In this case, the watch was sold on eBay for a Buy-It-Now price, which was another event made more likely by the watch's limited supply.  If it had been a run-of-the-mill 3510 Speedy Reduced, the eventual buyer might have been more willing to risk losing my specific auction by bidding rather than buying-it-now, as he or she could safely assume that another 3510 would be posted for auction again sometime soon.  But the 3512.80 is a rare bird outside of Japan, so the buyer decided not to take any chances and pay the 10% buy-it-now premium - which resulted in a greater overall profit on my end. 

All that being said, this watch sat on the auction block for around a month and a half before the fateful buy-it-now buyer came along.  Its ability to do so was a combination of eBay's monthly free listings quota and my willingness and ability to wait until the right buyer happened upon my listing.  More motivated or impatient sellers are often discouraged by an initial lack of interest, and may aggressively discount in order to attract more people.  This is fine if you're just trying to monetize as soon as you can, but if you're looking to recover more than your initial investment, this is very rarely the way to go.  Slow and steady - if you can afford it - wins the race.

Lessons learned from this transaction:

- Even with the weak dollar/yen ratio these days, you can still manage to profit off of a watch purchased in and shipped from Japan - if it has the right pedigree / limited supply / unique attributes that would make people seek it out over similar mass-produced models.
- Used is (almost invariably) the best way to acquire a watch and flip it for more money down the road.
- Be patient.  If you're realistic in gauging the supply and demand (and, accordingly the appropriate asking price) for your watch, the right buyer will come along eventually.

Next up: a profitable flip on a watch purhased new-in-box.  How was it done?  I'll explain in the next post.