Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

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How to Mail a Watch

Most of the watches I work on are family heirlooms, priceless to their owners. It's not easy to ship something like that for fear of loss or damage. That is perfectly understandable. No shipping is risk-free, and if this is something that will keep you awake at night then you shouldn't do it, simple as that.

If you decide to ship a watch, I can say that I have never had any trouble. Here are a few tips that greatly improve the security and safe delivery of your package.

1. Shipping and packing... I have always used USPS Priority Mail. The Post Office provides standardized boxes for Priority Mail free of charge. I use their medium-size square boxes. Include padding such as foam peanuts, and wrap the watch individually in foam, bubble wrap, or something similar. Placing the watch inside an inner box is nice for added security.

Boxes don't have to be huge. Watches are fragile, but not in the sense that glass is fragile. Watches need to avoid a sharp blow, so if they are wrapped individually in bubble wrap, and that is in a box of foam peanuts or something, then the watch can move a little and won't get a sharp jolt.

Packing does not need to be super tight either. A couple of times, I have received hunter case watches (watches with front covers) that have been packed so tightly that the case has squeezed  down and broken the fragile glass inside.

2. Important: Place a note inside the package with your name and address. Also please be sure to include your email address. I use email to track watches and transactions.

I can't stress this one enough. Please understand that I receive several watches a week, and multiple emails about watches every single day. When a watch shows up with no identifying information, I have no idea who it belongs to.

3. Address the package clearly. In over 10 years of doing this, three times a package has gone missing. All three were addressed to me incorrectly. All three were quickly located, but it can be a scare. Double check my address.

4. Ask the clerk at the Post Office to stamp your package "Fragile."

5. Insurance... I'm frequently asked how much to insure a package for. This is a hard question to answer. The actual replacement value of a watch is one thing, but this isn't the point. Nothing could not make up the loss of an important family item. The amount of insurance, therefore, is something that has to be left up to you. I receive many packages with no insurance, and that is fine too.

6. Email me when your watch is actually on its way. I'll be looking for it and I will let you know when it arrives. USPS Priority Mail takes 2 to 3 days. I receive text messages from the USPS with tracking information, so I'll know when it's going to arrive.

One last thing... Pack your watch while it is not running. A running watch has a slightly increased chance of being damaged by a sharp, physical jolt.

If you like to use a provider other than the USPS, such as UPS of FedEx, I have also never had any trouble with these. And I will return your watch by the same method.

Again, I have never had anything turn up missing, or damaged, in spite of mailing things out and receiving packages every week. But if the risk of shipping bothers you, then you really should not do it.

Read more about my experiences shipping watches here.

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