As a hobby, watch collecting is often full of little surprises. When it comes to the resale value of a watch, I can get a little obsessed. Part of the fun for me is chasing down the best bargain, trying to figure out what it’s worth, and wondering whether or not I’d be able to make my money back if I end up selling something down the line. While most people, correctly, say that watch collecting should never be about monetary investment, I can’t help but get a little spark of joy when I see the value of something I own creeping up over time. This story was originally going to be about “one that got away” — a watch I sold too soon — but a quick bit of research actually revealed that I got quite lucky in the case of a King Seiko 5626-7000.
Now, to be clear, I have never bought a watch purely to sell it. As much as I get excited by the money aspect, I’ve only ever bought them because I’ve wanted to wear them, and selling them on only happens when I feel like that initial attachment has worn off. I don’t have anywhere near the wealth required to buy up steel Rolexes or limited editions just to scalp them online, nor would I get any enjoyment out of that. While I do like to think I’m quite good at hunting a bargain, all of the watches I’ve flipped have been under $1000AUD, either breaking even or with minuscule profits.
While browsing Facebook Marketplace, one of my favourite pastimes, I tend to see a lot of watches. Most of them are fakes, scams, or just plain boring, but occasionally a gem crosses my path. That was the case with this King Seiko Hi-Beat 5262-7000 from 1971, having proof of a recent service and looking to be in my favourite kind of vintage condition, which is well-loved but unharmed. The case had that vintage Seiko charm with its large, sweeping surfaces cascading away from the dial and the lugs sharply cutting into the geometry. The silver sunburst dial and high-polish hands and indices played with the light pleasurably, giving it a very dressy feel, while the day-date display gave it that office-wear practicality. I liked the subtlety of the original Seiko logo, while the applied ‘KS’ logo and gold-filled medallion on the caseback reminded me of its under-the-radar higher-end status.
Apparent glory of the watch aside, I did some quick research and discovered that the average asking price was around $650AUD, and this seller was asking for $600AUD. I offered $550AUD, and after a quick meet and inspection, I was walking away with it on my wrist. The new-watch feeling was as good as it always is, and I wore it proudly in rotation for the next few weeks. But, it was a short-lived honeymoon phase. I still liked the watch, but only a month or so later, something about it no longer grabbed my attention. With my eyes and heart wandering towards a Longines Avigation BigEye Chronograph, the King Seiko was immediately one of several watches on the chopping block.
I was keen to get the Longines as soon as possible, but my pride of bargain hunting and money-smart collecting wouldn’t let me accept the torrents of low-ball offers that come from Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. I even had someone ask me for the weight of the gold medallion on the back, so that they could gouge that out and sell it on its own. Out of curiosity and mild desperation, I took some photos of the watch and sent it in to Cash Converters (Australia’s most common pawn-shop chain) for a quote. Now, I’m not sure if the person working that day hadn’t been trained by the Cash Converters team properly, or if they just wanted the watch for themselves, but they were more than happy to take it off my hands for $650AUD. I gave them the watch, pocketed my tidy $100 profit, and immediately put it towards the BigEye.
For a little while in recent months, I had a suspicion that vintage King Seiko watches were getting a bit more desirable. I saw more and more forum posts about them, a few people selling them for exorbitant prices online, and Seiko themselves even released some high-end reissues. When I was asked if I had a ‘one that got away’ story, the King Seiko jumped to mind as something which may now have sold for much more, but a peek at eBay proved that totally wrong. At the time of writing, if buying from Japan, you can get yourself a nice looking 5626-7000 for as low as $400-500AUD, making my Cash Converters sale a considerable bullet-dodge. There’s no particular moral to this story, other than the unpredictability of vintage watch prices. Don’t feel guilty about buying and flipping to your heart’s content, because watch collecting is only what you make of it.