Prep & Barter Item: Cheap Japanese Quartz Watches While They’re Still Available

Posted on Jul 17, 2021

I stopped wearing a wrist watch years ago when I started carrying a smart phone everywhere.

However, when on vacation or a cruise I would pick up a good looking cheap wrist watch when I know I’ll be traveling through different time zones like a cruise ship or moving around Europe. And especially when on excursions away from a cruise ship. I would synchronize to ship time before leaving for an excursion. Often when I’m outside of my time zone in the US I prefer a watch with my home and office time.

In 2019 I picked up a couple of Walmart George watches for 3 upcoming cruises. One was like $8.88 and was worthless. But the other one was a Japanese quartz watch that I noticed one day had kept perfect time for weeks. I got used to wearing it. It wasn’t a knock-off of an expensive watch but it looked expensive. To my surprise everywhere I go people just expect or take it for granted it’s an expensive watch.

I thought about upgrading to a Seiko or a Bulova but then people would judge a Seiko as a $100 watch and a Bulova as a $200 cheap watch. So I prefer a no-name watch, it keeps everybody guessing and I’m not advertising for anyone.

I’ve been so pleased with this $12.88 George watch from Walmart I recently recognized they’re discontinuing them (or more likely the manufacturer can’t get parts to make them this cheap any longer) and they’re discounted down to just $3.50 for the one I owned. I started looking for another one and all the stores around me were already sold out.

However, eBay and Poshmark have dozens of sellers who scarfed them up and are selling like 4 for $24 with free shipping. Before I was done online shopping I had purchased a dozen really good looking watches for like a $100. And they’re keeping perfect time.

It has occurred to me that when and if cell phones, Internet and electricity go down all the zombies carrying phones won’t have any idea what time it is.  Cheap wrist watches may be worth 50 times (in barter) what you can buy one for now. The one below on the far right I’ve been wearing since 2019 and only have to change the time when it falls back or forward annually. I’m testing the three on the left for accurate time. It’s amazing to me that you can make a watch like this for $12.88 which indicates the markup on a Rolex has to be astronomical.

I would stop by the cruise ship jewelry watch stores and check out the ridiculous prices for what appears to be a very similar watch for 500 times what I paid. The person behind the counter asked what brand is that watch? I would say “Walmart George Japanese Quartz $12.88 and it keeps perfect time” and everyone would crack up laughing except for the jeweler. It’s a Walex : )

It’s apparent that there was a machine out there that can build a precision timepiece and retail it for $12.88, discounted down to $3.50 on closeout (probably cost).


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