Overwhelmed by the thousands of Internet Web sites that feature or sell timepieces? Forbes magazine’s Sept. 11, 2000, “Best of the Web” review narrowed the field to seven leaders, with a description of each site, including best and worst features. It’s an interesting mixture of well known (eBay, Ashford, Antiquorum, and Tourneau) and lesser-known sites, ranging from those that sell vintage watches to vendors of watchbands. They are (in order of Forbes’s priority):
eBay(www.ebay.com). This busy online auction site has “a high selection” in clocks, watches, and pocket watches, totaling some 14,000 items. Best feature, according to Forbes: searching past results for similar items sold recently. Worst: eBay is “a free-for-all, so buyer beware.”
Antiquorum (www.antiquorum.com). The Web site of 20-year-old Antiquorum Auctioneers lets users bid at home in real time at its auctions. Best: Detailed explanations of the auction process and a grading system for case, dial, and movement. Worst: No search feature.
Ashford.com (www.ashford.com). This well-known Web site offers up to 35% off on more than 100 brands (though many companies say the items are there without their authorization). Best: Complete purchase online, liberal return policy, and 24-hour customer service. Worst: No photos for many items.
Finer Times.com (www.finertimes.com). This site offers some 800 vintage watches, plus new, pocket, and military watches and has a network of affiliated dealers and a repair center. Best: “What’s New” feature makes it easy to check out new items, which are linked to merchant. Worst: Few clocks.
Gisbert A. Joseph (www.joseph-watches.com). The Spain-based site, also available in Japanese, has “the best selection of unused older wristwatches,” says Forbes. Best:Online buying with credit card and a six-month guarantee. Worst: Three-day return policy, nothing about shipping costs, and no ability to search by price.
Jonathan Snellenburg Timepieces and Decorative Objects(www.snellenburg.com). This non-purchase site for serious watch and clock collectors is from a leading timepiece collector and appraiser. Best:“What’s New” section and summaries of books on clockmaking. Worst: Infrequent updates.
Strickland Vintage Watches (www.oldwristwatches.com). This “Mom-and-Pop” site for watches (and watchbands) is easy to browse, says Forbes, and offers detailed descriptions. Best: Direct e-mail contact with site’s operator. Worst: Small inventory.
Tourneau (www.tourneau.com). The Web site of America’s largest watch retailer offers “almost anything you want,” says Forbes. Best: Free trade-in appraisal form via e-mail. Worst: Full retail prices.