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So, we've all heard eBay cautionary tales and a number of people have horror stories of their own. In contrast, I thought I'd share a refreshing incident: I just bought a '27 ladies Hamilton for my wife. It was a bit of a beater in the photos, but I thought for the price I cd deal with it. Watch arrives on time, packaged in a proper box, with a fresh strap (unexpected) and looking and running absolutely great. Was astounded. I've never ordered something that looked a bit weak and got something that was in reality top drawer.

So, while it is undoubtedly the exception rather than the rule: Sometimes crappy photos actually hide a great watch!
 

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I think I know which watch you got. Didn't bid since I already had a similar one, and I'm glad to see it went to a good home!
 

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Sometimes crappy photos actually hide a great watch!
As a confirmed bottomfeeder, I LOVE crappy pics. Often they'll hide a watch that others would jump at if they knew what it really was.

Last fall I snagged a Lord Elgin that usually goes for north of $60 no matter the condition, because the seller posted a pic of the movement instead of the watch. Click on the listing, though, and there was the case, but he never showed a picture of the whole thing put together!
 

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I've had one lucky hit because of bad photos. A couple of years ago someone offered a Ventura, with hopelessly out-of-focus pictures. Useless, really. I figured that even if it was very mediocre I could restore it to at least acceptable condition so I placed a very low bid. (I wasn't willing to risk too much without a better idea of condition.) Bidders apparently stayed away in droves because of the lousy pics and I ended up getting it for a ridiculously cheap price, way under my low-ball limit. When it arrived I just about had a heart attack: it was virtually new-old-stock -- including original two-tone band and 14K buckle. Razor-sharp case, flawless black dial, quite simply one of the most perfect Venturas I've seen in over 25 years of specializing in these. Wow.

If the seller had posted decent pictures I guarantee it would have fetched at least triple what he got for it.
 

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Great topic.

My happy spot was a 1928 Piping Rock in working order. Poor photos (even worse than my good pic below!), pitched as an antique ladies' watch and part of a two watch 'job lot'. I got it "B.I.N." for well less than $1,000 and magnanimously let the seller keep the other one to sell later :wink:.

 

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My find

I like the stories - I'm an opportunistic bidder at times. Last year there was a buy-it-now listing with one out of focus picture. However, I thought I knew what it was and grabbed it. Turns out I picked up my YGF Hamilton Stanley (with original 401 movement) for $49.99. I was (am) one happy camper!!
 
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