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Do we have a general checklist like this somewhere? I'm guessing it would probably have been stickied if there were one. In case I am re-inventing the wheel or this is a bad/stupid idea, please feel free to delete this post.

What I mean by a general checklist is a list of things to look out for and questions to ask the seller, if necessary, regardless of the specific model of the timepiece. Questions that are model-specific are better left for the respective collectors guides in this forum. Of course, not everyone will want to ask the same questions, depending on whether one cares about certain aspects of the timepiece. This list may or may not help you determine the value of the item being sold. But it certainly helps us avoid surprises that result from forgetting to check or ask about things that we would care about, especially for beginners (like me).

This list is probably still incomplete, but here it goes anyway. In particular, I am still only thinking about pure analog mechanical watches. I haven't thought about what to check on solar/kinetic/eco-drive/GPS/radio-controlled/quartz/LCD digital/tuning fork/Spring Drive watches yet. Maybe those of you who are into these other kinds of watches can fill in the blank.

Note 1: whenever you see "if necessary", it means to only ask that question if you can't find or deduce the answer from the item description or supplied photos. This list is not meant to be a questionnaire that you just throw at the seller.
Note 2: some of the entries that pertain to the correct functioning of the timepiece can probably only be verified once you have received the timepiece. Think of it as a reminder to check those things ASAP so you can maybe still get your money back.

Preamble

  • [size=1em]Check the title of the item. Can it be misleading? E.g. Is it really just the watch case instead of the whole watch?
    [size=1em]Is it a J or K (for Seiko)? (Is there an equivalent system for Citizen and Orient?)
Mechanical Movement

  • Is the movement supposed to hack? Does hacking still work?
    [size=1em]When was the movement last serviced? Are all movement parts original?
    [size=1em]Did the movement come in several revisions? Does the example on sale come with a revision that is known to be problematic?
    [size=1em]Are there pictures of the movement?
    [size=1em]Does the movement at least look original?
    [size=1em]Does the movement look reasonably clean and not corroded/damaged?
    [size=1em]Ask the seller if the movement needs any repair.
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to wind automatically or manually?
    [size=1em]Does hand-winding or auto-winding still work?
    [size=1em]Does the advertised jewel count make sense for the particular watch model/movement? (I've seen items with the wrong jewel count. This could be a hint that the seller doesn't know his stuff. The watch is probably frankened).
    Ask for a video of the watch, starting from a completely wound-down state, for both automatic and manual winding. This would indicate if the watch has winding problems.
[size=1.45em]Chronograph-Specific

  • [size=1em]Does the chronograph function still work (start/stop)?
    [size=1em]Is there supposed to be a separate small second for regular time, aside from the big chronograph second?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to be a flyback? Does the flyback still work?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to be rattrapant? Does the rattrapant mechanism still work? (Has any of Seiko/Citizen/Orient ever made a rattrapant anyway?)
    [size=1em]Does the watch run reasonably at the same correct rate regardless of whether chronograph is engaged or not.
    [size=1em]Does the power reserve deplete too quickly when the chronograph is engaged?
    [size=1em]As for a video of the chronograph functions in action.
[size=1.45em]Water Resistance

  • [size=1em]Is it supposed to be an ISO diver? How deep is it supposed to go? Has it been pressure tested lately?
    [size=1em]Have the gaskets aged? Do they need changing? Ask about all the gaskets - case back, crown, pushers (am I missing any?)
    [size=1em]Is re-lubing needed?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to have a helium release valve? Does it work properly?
[size=1.45em]Calendar

  • [size=1em]Is it supposed to be date-only or day-date?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to be a perpetual? Does the perpetual calendar still work properly?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to be a quick-set date? Does quick-set still work (for date and/or day, as applicable)? Ask to have the quick-set function demonstrated in a video.
    Does the calendar advance at the correct hours of the day? E.g. for Seiko 7S26, the calendar is supposed to advance between 23:00 and 3:00.
    [size=1em]Ask the seller if the calendar wheels are damaged in any way, if necessary.
    [size=1em]There are usually two languages on the day wheel, with only one language visible during the day. What are the languages?
    [size=1em]Make sure to distinguish between Japanese and Chinese, and among French, Spanish, and Italian.
[size=1.45em]Case

  • [size=1em]Is the case original?
    [size=1em]Are there dents?
    [size=1em]Has it been over-polished?
    [size=1em]Is it the correct case for the advertised watch model?
[size=1.45em]Bezel

  • [size=1em]Is the bezel original?
    [size=1em]Is it at least the correct bezel for the advertised watch model?
    [size=1em]Is the bezel damaged or chipped?
    [size=1em]Compare with pictures found on the Internet. Fonts, markings, shapes, colours, wordings.
    [size=1em]Does the bezel rotate correctly?
    [size=1em]Is the rotation supposed to be uni-directional?
    [size=1em]Does the bezel click correctly?
    [size=1em]Is the bezel supposed to be a slide rule or tachymeter?
    [size=1em]If it's a slide rule, does the slide rule work? (I have seen a broken Calculator where the inner ring of the slide rule keeps rotating together with the outer ring, lol.)
    [size=1em]If it's a tachymeter, are the markings correct? Are they faded?
[size=1.45em]Crystal

  • [size=1em]Is the crystal original?
    [size=1em]Is it supposed to be mineral crystal/hardlex/sapphire?
    [size=1em]Has the crystal been re-polished?
    [size=1em]Does the crystal still fit well?
    [size=1em]Does the crystal look well aligned, parallel to the plane of the dial?
    [size=1em]Does the crystal look like it is installed at the correct depth?
    [size=1em]Does the crystal look like it has the right thickness (if you can even tell from the pictures)?
[size=1.45em]Case Back

  • [size=1em]Is the case back original?
    [size=1em]Is it the correct case back for the advertised model?
    [size=1em]Does the case back still fit well?
    [size=1em]Does the case back have the correct info (watch model, case model, case material, bezel material, model number, internal service code, serial number)?
    [size=1em]Does the info stamp look authentic? Compare the stamp layout and quality with pictures of the same model found on the Internet.
    [size=1em]Is the serial number known to be fake or of a stolen timepiece? Search for the model and the serial number on the Internet.
    [size=1em]Does the serial at least seem to correspond with the claimed manufacturing time? (There are serial-to-date-of-manufacture converters on the Internet.)
[size=1.45em]Crown, Pushers, and Pendant Tube

  • [size=1em]Is the crown original?
    [size=1em]Is the crown well attached?
    [size=1em]Does the crown pull out and go back to the correct positions?
    [size=1em]Is it a screw crown? Does it screw well like it should?
    [size=1em]Is the pendant tube damaged?
    [size=1em]Are the pushers original?
    [size=1em]Are the pushers properly installed and well attached?
    [size=1em]If there are two pushes, check for symmetry, see if one seems to be more pulled out or pushed in relative to the other.
    [size=1em]Compare with pictures of the crown and pushers found on the Internet.
[size=1.45em]Dial

  • [size=1em]Are there supposed to be lumes on the dial? Do the lumes still work? Have they been re-lumed? Ask for lume shots if necessary.
    [size=1em]Is the dial original?
    [size=1em]Is it at least the correct dial model for the advertised watch model?
    [size=1em]Is the dial colour correct for that dial model?
    [size=1em]Compare features of the dial with pictures found on the Internet. Fonts, markings, wordings, colours, shapes.
    [size=1em]Are there stains on the dial? Can they be cleaned up? Ask the seller why there are stains, if necessary.
[size=1.45em]Hands

  • [size=1em]Are the hands original?
    [size=1em]Are the hands at least of the correct style and colours for the advertised watch model?
    [size=1em]Are there supposed to be lumes on the hands? Have they been re-lumed? Ask for lume shots if necessary.
    [size=1em]Ask the seller if the hands are still well attached and not damaged at the pivot.
[size=1.45em]Bracelet/Strap

  • [size=1em]Is the bracelet/strap original?
    [size=1em]Is it at least the correct bracelet/strap model for the advertised watch model?
    [size=1em]Does the bracelet come with all the original number of links?
    [size=1em]Is any of the links damaged or rusted?
    [size=1em]Do all links stay well attached?
    [size=1em]Are the spring bars in good condition?
    [size=1em]If it's a rubber strap, has it aged? Is it cracked? Does it look fragile?
[size=1.45em]Clasp/Buckle

  • [size=1em]Is the clasp/buckle original?
    [size=1em]Is it at least the correct type of clasp/buckle for the advertised watch model?
    [size=1em]Does the clasp release mechanism work well?
    [size=1em]If it's a folding/deployant clasp, do the folding sections close snuggly?
    [size=1em]Is the clasp deformed, damaged, or rusted?
    [size=1em]Ask for pictures of the open versus closed clasp, if necessary.
[size=1.45em]Bells and Whistles

  • [size=1em]Does it happen to come with original peripherals? (User manual, box, cushion, certificate, etc.)
Please feel free to point out if I'm missing important things or if there is any problem with the items on the checklist.
 

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And the end line should read "are you willing to pay the amount specified by the seller"

Cheers
Mark
 

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That's a good checklist, as a newbie to all this I find it helpful as there is a lot to think about.

Thanks for putting this together.
 

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Informative list! Appreciate your effort in putting it together.
 

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Great List, i always do a few basics before I decided to bid.
1 check the sellers history (and look at other items for sale )
2 expect to pay for a service/ rebuild.
3 never purchase a watch that is frequently faked.
4 compare the watch with others of the same type (google, forums etc)
5 Dont ever use EBAY/PITNEY BOWES global shipping program.
 

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It appears that with a forum update at some pint, the formatting in the OP has gone awry.


Any chance a mod could 'fix' that original list and perhaps include bloody watches post into the OP (at the end).
 
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