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Second Hand Watches

From Horology magazine, May, 1938

Second Hand Watches

The problem of the second hand watch has been the object of considerable attention on the part of both the jewelry and horological organizations. The most recent move has been the action of the California Retail Jewelers Association in trying to devise a plan for the removal of second hand watches from the market. This, of course, is an attempt to solve an economic problem.

There is, however, another phase of the matter which has only been touched upon and that is fraud or misrepresentation in connection with the sale of used watches. It is true that several states have laws requiring second hand watches to be tagged as such and records of sales to be made but there is nothing to prevent the removal of original names and the substitution of fictitious trade marks or the erasure of serial numbers so that the age of old watches, which are being passed as nearly new, cannot be traced.

During the last few years thousands of watches were broken up for the sake of the gold or platinum in their cases. Great numbers of these movements have been subsequently salvaged and resold in new cases. In this flood of rebuilt watches are many marked with such well known names as Tiffany, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Jurgensen, Vacheron & Constantin and others, which were never sold or manufactured by these firms. In some instances new dials with these names were made, while in others the original names on the movements were effaced and new ones engraved.

The American watch companies, being few in number, are not faced with the same undermining influences, except perhaps in the making of imitation dials, which has been greatly curbed. However, the jewelry business as a whole is faced with the competition of countefeiters who trade on other people's reputations.

The horologists have a direct interest in the solution of this problem because in almost every instance these worn out frauds find their way into the repair shops when they fail to come up to the buyers' expectations. 

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