Forbes Picks Best Timepiece Web Sites

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.