The return to the car boot sale!

Somehow, even at a Czech car boot sale, I don’t think they’re selling even broken (genuine) Rolex watches at $25. So I didn’t buy those three.

But, I think I’ve worked out what happened about those solver coins. A collector had as his method anything that was about the size and colour of a silver dollar. Hey, why not, it worked for him. So, 1 Bolivar coins from Bolivia in the 1960s, a couple of clearly fake coins (even the Ugandan mint wasn’t going to issue a Chuck and Di Crown with the date as 1086), what might well be a magician’s coin (German on one side, Panama on the other) and some “silver trade coins” and other such bits and pieces. And a couple of Maria Theresa Thalers, some Swiss shooting competition medals and other things which are indeed silver. Various of the “professionals” at the boot sale had a couple of pages each of these coins from what was obviously an album.

All in all I reckon I spent about $100 to buy 50 ounces or so, maybe a little lower at 40 ounces, of silver. Pretty much nothing has any numismatic value although there’s a hint that one of them might be worth the purchase price alone.

Of course, I’m much more likely to just leave them on the shelf to be sold off at my own estate clearout than I am to start listing the damn things on e-Bay but still……

And one more thing, how do you check whether Rolex is real or not?

55 thoughts on “The return to the car boot sale!”

  1. John Square in Hell

    Any Rolex without a sweep second hand is definitely fake.

    Any Rolex with a sweep second hand may be fake.

    Even the fakes have genuine looking mechanisms nowadays. Authentication is most easily done by serial number. But what if a serial number has been cloned from an identical watch?

  2. Shouldn’t it be called the third hand?

    “how do you check whether Rolex is real or not?”: throw it in the village pond. If it sinks it’s the real thing.

  3. John Square in Hell,

    “Even the fakes have genuine looking mechanisms nowadays. Authentication is most easily done by serial number. But what if a serial number has been cloned from an identical watch?”

    I can’t help wondering if the whole thing of owning a Rolex is going to go pop. Their reputation is built on the fact that at one time, they were intrinsically better timepieces than the rest and looked good. You couldn’t fake a Rolex because the craft required to make a timepiece that well was as expensive.

    At a certain point, you aren’t signalling status. You’re signalling that you’re a mug.

  4. John Square in Hell


    I’m on the Isle of Wight temporarily, and the cat is the only sensible one here. I’m dealing with in laws and my own parents. I’m considering washing my hands of the lot, and relocating to Greece, where the food is better.

    If my wife and kids want to follow me, I’m prepared to discuss this. But now promises

  5. ‘how do you check whether Rolex is real or not?’

    Easy, a Rolex has special glass.

    Place the watch on a firm surface and give the face a good thwack with the ball side of a 4 oz ball pein hammer.

    If it doesn’t break, it’s worth something 🙂

  6. @JS in hell,

    Yes, except the OysterQuartz.

    You can get much nicer looking Swiss mechanical watches for less than your entry-level Rolex. Boring and overpriced things.

    If you really want one and want to know it is real, buy it new from a reputable dealer.

  7. allthegoodnamesaretaken said:
    “Why are you obsessed with a second hand rolex?”

    I think Tim’s hoping he can get to know more than a Czech car boot seller, pick up a bargain and sell it for a nice profit.

  8. A Brief Elaboration of a Tube

    “relocating to Greece, where the food is better”: by golly that’s a low bar.

    I can’t agree that it’s a low bar, but he *did* say he’s in the IoW.

  9. “Even the fakes have genuine looking mechanisms nowadays. Authentication is most easily done by serial number. But what if a serial number has been cloned from an identical watch?”

    Rolex serial numbers have been faked for years. It is not a reliable indicator of whether the watch is authentic. There really is only one way to authenticate a Rolex watch: Take it to an authorized Rolex dealer and pay them to authenticate it. And while that may sound like a pain in the ass, having proof of authenticity adds quite a bit to the value of any watch if you want to sell it.

  10. The two most accurate mechanical watches I’ve ever owned were a Rolex Submariner and a Rolex Air King. The Submariner sat in a drawer for ten years before I took it out and gave it a shake to get it started. It ran +1 second over the next three months. That’s better than I get out of my quartz Omega Aqua Terra.

    In my opinion the only mechanical watch that comes close to Rolex for flat-out accuracy is the Grand Seiko.

    Yeah, every social climbing dickweed in the world has a Rolex, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are damn fine watches.

  11. The only time I’ve made serious chunks of dosh it’s been in dodgy scrap metals deals. So, probably, yes.

    Sadly, it’s a little late to get George Cole to play me in the movie version.

  12. There will be signs from the quality of the watch if it is fake or not. If you know the quality of Rolex or the particular model you can quite easily spot where they have cut corners.

  13. Status signalling is the whole point of watches now. Actually status signalling can be seen at the heart of almost everything people do. Not only for Rolex but Breitlling Bell end & Ross etc. Who the hell flies fast jets and needs/has a use for one of these things? Hardly anyone hence the marketing focuses on enabling the buyer to pretend they are fast jet pilots or brilliant sportsmen/women.

    The additional element is the appreciation of mechanical watch as a thing of beauty and a throwback to a less digital era. But even then you are signalling something to others about your tastes and wealth. Collecting Harry Potter memorabilia is one thing but watch collecting signals mechanical and artistic appreciation plus money as every fool knows they are expensive.

    Today I am watchless as I left my wrist watch in Singapore. Not signalling anything other than I have no idea what the time is.

  14. I can see why people go for quality watches as collectors items. There was a programme recently on TV here about the watch made for Marie Antoinette by Breguet and its historical adventures. I can see why anyone would want to own that watch, now sitting in the Institute for Islamic Art in Jerusalem again. Personally though, Harrison’s H4 Chronometer would be the one I would choose.

    However, reality intrudes. I’m perfectly satisfied with a Citizen quartz watch in stainless steel that needs no new batteries and easily moves between timezones. Not quite as good as Dennis’s for timekeeping – it loses about 30 secs in 4 months, but that is very consistent.

  15. Best watch I ever had was a Timex. Bought in the US for next to nothing. When it eventually died I posted it off to their factory in Dundee and they sent me a new one. Cost per annum: sqrt of precious little.

    Hell, if you need an ostentatious watch to attract the girlies, you’re not doing it right.

  16. Status signalling is the whole point of watches now.

    Only for a very few brands that the Average Joe would recognize as being “expensive”: Rolex, Breitling, TAG Heuer, for example.

    You’d be safer walking down the street wearing a $250,000 Patek Philippe Chronograph than wearing a $10,000 Rolex Submariner… And that’s because 99.9% of the people on the planet have no idea what is Patek Philippe is, much less what it’s worth.

  17. Hublot is the real wealth-signaling watch nowadays I think. There was one in their Paris shop last year shaped like an engine, was about a quarter of a million euros or something. I opted for a battery-powered Tag Heuer for $1500, which is the most I’ll ever pay for a watch. I like watches, but I’m not that into them and my wrists are too skinny for big fat Swiss ones.

  18. In my opinion the only mechanical watch that comes close to Rolex for flat-out accuracy is the Grand Seiko.

    And valve amplifiers sound much better than solid state ones (particularly if run over single crystal copper cables). My watch is a £30 Casio Waveceptor and syncs to Rugby every day, keeping time to within a small fraction of a second, forever (or as long as the battery lasts, anyway). But I can’t use it to impress anyone with my personal wealth, so it’s just as well I have no desire to do that.

  19. Test for a real rolex.
    Pressurise it to 30 bars, depressurise.
    If it doesn’t explode it’s real.
    I got offered a comex rolex for peanuts and didn’t take the offer. Silly me.
    OTOH my seiko (rated 150 metres) worked perfectly well at 225m and all I had to do was to pull the pin out during decompresion.
    Lost it on an Italian glacier, so if you find it still ticking please return it. Nostalgic about it, small reward.

  20. “relocating to Greece, where the food is better”: by golly that’s a low bar
    It is said that the Greeks will drink anything that stays in the bucket and eat anything that crawls out of it.

  21. John Square in Hell

    @Everyone commenting on Greek food:

    I am fortunate to travel pretty much all over, on a regular basis, and the food I get in Greece is markedly better than everywhere else (at least in the kind of price ranges I tend to spend in). I have never had a disappointing meal there. By that standard alone it beats Singapore, Norway, Germany, Korea, China, Holland and Rochdale. Peterborough I was in for eight months and I never had a good meal. And the people were arseholes.

    So there!

  22. John Square now in Civilsation

    “And valve amplifiers sound much better than solid state ones (particularly if run over single crystal copper cables).”

    I do believe the first bit. Not convinced by the second.

  23. Tractor Gent,

    There’s something about early watches. It’s the thing about just how cutting edge they were at the time, arguably, the pinnacle of human achievement when they came out. So much, hand made, like every little part, in one small device.

  24. But I can’t use it to impress anyone with my personal wealth, so it’s just as well I have no desire to do that.

    Years ago I had a Casio G-Shock that synced itself to the nearest atomic clock every night. Cool watch. I ended up giving it to a geologist buddy of mine who complained he couldn’t find a watch that didn’t end up broken. I think he still has it.

    If I ever get a Grand Seiko (and I want to), it will be because it is a damn fine watch. I’m sixty, balding and paunchy. If I really want to impress someone, I’d do better to drop twenty pounds than flash a watch.

  25. @jamesg, August 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm


    Handle a few genuine Rolex watches and you will “feel” the quality of watch & bracelet. Most fakes look OK, but don’t pass the feel test.

  26. I’ve got the model of Casio that Tom Cruise word in the first Mission Impossible film.

    Just saying.

    Doop-doop do-do doop-doop

  27. I was in Harrods in their watch department looking at a £40,000 Rolex.

    You know what time it was showing?

    Exactly the same as my £30 Casio.

  28. Well since even Tim Newman is signalling now, I’ll come out of the closet, and admit to my FC335MC4P5. Go ahead and laugh at me, but at least it doesn’t have a battery. And the timekeeping is amazing since it’s last service (you don’t buy a mechanical watch for its accuracy).

    If I were to buy a second watch it’d be a Sinn 6052.

  29. BiG –

    If you have someone laughing at a Frederique Constant, it’s someone who doesn’t know anything about watches. Very conservative, classic styling and superb build quality. They are a brand on the rise, though somewhat neglected because they don’t make sports and diver watches. I’d wear one in a heartbeat. And Sinn, well, they’ve been a “hot” watch for years amongst U.S. collectors.

  30. I’d need a lot of persuasion to spend more than £20 on a watch. Might stretch to £30 if I felt I could get a good few years out of it. The “signalling” thing works in reverse too, though – I no longer wear a watch, because wearing something in my preferred price bracket now appears to be a deliberate sign of tightness or skintness. Though if there’s no clock about, I’d actually prefer to have a watch to look at, than to peek at my phone – which I think is rather obvious and gauche, compared to a sneaky wrist-glance. I do my best to ensure anywhere I live or work is surrounded by clockfaces to minimise the problem…

  31. A good Swiss watch has always been a status symbol, years ago someone was signalling they were important enough (and rich enough) to need accurate time. Now they’re just signalling that they can afford to spunk thousands of pounds to see if their I phone is in sync. It always has been, and still is, a willy waving exercise. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it’s just how it is..

  32. Years ago I finished my book on an aeroplane and was so bored that I read the airline magazine. Long, pretentious interview about staggeringly expensive watches by an expert.

    Near the end, the interviewer asked the expert what watch he wears. Longines Grande Classique, apparently, which I only remember because that’s what mine is.

    Not that I wear a watch often these days; here in Dorset we tend to measure time by the seasons.

  33. Years ago (in the 80s, IIRC) a colleague was in Hong Kong on business, and was approached to see if he would like to buy a “Rolex” for some ridiculously low price, maybe $50. He takes a look, and the counterfeiter had worked really hard to make it look right – except the name on the dial, which read “Rolodex” although it was in the apparently genuine font and placement. Chris said he couldn’t resist buying it once he noticed that.

  34. Curiously a fair few of my techie friends wear good quality smart watches which could pass for a standard analogue. It’s much more acceptable in management or design meetings to look at your watch than at your phone …

  35. Plus of course you can leave a mechanical watch to your grandkids. An old iPhone is just landfill. Same for cameras.

  36. I’m not much of a watch aficionado but like the look of Fossil watches and if I could afford one would buy a Michel Herbelin watch.

    I currently wear a Swatch Bond Villain series watch (Drax Corporation). Had it since 2008 and it seems to keep time as well as any other timepiece. Last time I took it to the local jewelers for battery replacement he wanted to buy it off me for a very tidy sum. Collector’s piece now apparently.

  37. @dcardno

    I once bought a ‘Bolex’ in identical circumstances. And a Corum, but that was correctly spelt. It was about 125HKD for the pair if I recall correctly, which was exactly a tenner at the time.

    The discussion about watches (whatever you pay, it tells the same time) bring to mind guitars- when I started playing (25 years or so ago), a £150 guitar was junk, with shit electronics and hardware. Now, a £150 guitar can be bloody great- far better than a 300 quid one back in the day.

    But this gets more interesting when you consider the price gap between a starter brand and it’s revered parent- I have a squier telecaster (Classic Vibe series) that I paid around £300 for. My mate has a grand’s worth of fender tele (US built 58 reissue). He thinks my guitar is better in every way. It’s the same for certain Epiphone Les Paul’s (£400 price mark) against entry level Gibson LP’s (£900 and onward).

    Why do people pay more just for a certain logo and/or a certain shaped headstock?

  38. Why do people pay more just for a certain logo and/or a certain shaped headstock?

    I paid more for East Indian rosewood and Adirondack spruce. That makes a difference. 😉

  39. Glad to see signalling is accepted as a thing. Whether cars, watches or virtue there are few human interactions where something isn’t being said about the person making the signal, very often consciously. Of course these expenditures are choices and not everyone can make them all.

    Now if only I could spot them.

  40. @ Tim Newman

    There’s a big (and very rational argument) that the whole Tonewood proposition is bunk aimed at the gullible (or Bluegrass players, as they are also known)…

  41. “there are few human interactions where something isn’t being said about the person making the signal”

    Wearing a Timex (do they still exist?) says “I’m not so insecure that I care what you think of me”.

  42. Long time back, I was on a British Merchant Navy ship, (that was a long time back), and my two mates were having a running Watch contest. One had bought an Omega, the other a Japanese rip-off. They were always hammering one or t’other against tables, showing how much bounce their watch could sustain without taking damage.

    I was in the engine workshop fitting new bearings to a motor rotor, by heating up some oil, dropping the bearing in and waiting until the metal expanded ever-so-slightly, then whipping the bearing out, sliding the inner sleeve over the shaft, and then ;hey presto, a bearing set in the right place, and of course shrunk on to the shaft.

    The pair of idiots saw my hot oil, and demanded that I drop a watch in, to show how tough the watch actually was. The Omega performed brilliantly; The Jap’s case sprung a leak and the watch was destroyed!

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