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Best packing and shipping practices?

  1. Syrte MWR Tech Support Dept May 1, 2019

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    Greetings all,
    I very seldom sell watches and for the first time have sold two watches outside of the European Union.

    I have pondered at length about each step of the packing process- being most nervous about potential thefts on the part of people reading contents on a customs form.
    I have opted for a truthful but obtuse description that doesn’t use the word “watch”. (Similar to what’s recommended by Parcel Pro, unfortunately unavailable in certain locations, and not cost effective for watches whose under 500 euros).

    Anyhow, what is in your opinion the best way to pack a watch to minimize risks of theft?

    I used to think a padded jiffy envelope surrounded by lots of tape, glue, staples would be more unobtrusive and deter curiosity— a bit like an old bike with a very big lock would make it inefficient to attack.
    One of our good members here who has extensive experience shipping watches opined that a box is better because it cannot be made to tear « accidentally ».

    If so, a small box or a larger box? I seem to recall people recommending a larger box (shoe box size or larger) because it’s harder to hide away or suspect what’s inside.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice,
    Best regards
     
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  2. ATWG May 1, 2019

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    I usually double box my watches while providing delivery instructions on both. Also, opt for large box as it’s more difficult to steal or conceal.
     
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  3. Syrte MWR Tech Support Dept May 1, 2019

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    Thanks much, when you say « large box », do you mean something that’s larger than a shoe box?
     
  4. ATWG May 1, 2019

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    Oh no, I use a medium FedEx box as the outer shell and a small FedEx box which slides in nicely as the inner box. Both are free at local FedEx stores. You can also look up their dimensions on their site to get an idea.

    I also video tape all my packing for insurance purpose.
     
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  5. w154 May 1, 2019

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    I normally use shoe boxes. I have no idea if it helps but they couldn’t be stuffed inside a jacket and taken to a quiet corner for opening. Also I double box for security.

    Edit to add: avoiding weekends as mentioned below always seems like a good deal too. But for long distance shipping it might be unavoidable to have a weekend in there somewhere.
     
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  6. mr_smith May 1, 2019

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    I one time bought a watch late in the week where it would have shipped on a Friday - even though shipping it Next Day Air, the seller requested shipping it on a Monday, stating they didn't like anything sitting in a distribution center over a weekend, for fear of theft. I paid the extra money for Saturday Delivery. The shipping box wasn't much bigger than the watch box (in fact I recall a very tight fit) and the seller used the 'If broken, do not accept' kind of tape on all of the seams. Since that purchase, I've always thought about how he avoided shipping anything over a weekend (noted it can't always be avoided if things need to pass through Customs).
     
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  7. connieseamaster May 1, 2019

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    When I was "VP of Logistics" (aka unpaid helper in the summer) for my dad's watch shop, the procedure that had the most success was to wrap the watch in bubble wrap, put it in the smallest box that would fit it, and fill any remaining space with crushed newspaper. Tape up that box, put it a larger box and stuff the remaining space with more newspaper until nothing moved. (If a customer had been a PITA, they'd get packing peanuts instead of newspaper). The goal is to be able to shake the box and not be able to to detect anything moving inside.

    Yeah, the shipping weight goes up, but it's more likely to survive the trip.
     
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  8. Syrte MWR Tech Support Dept May 1, 2019

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    Thank you dear lady and gentlemen! A lot of great advice here, double boxing seems to be the gold standard.
    You’re reminding me that I have received watches packed with bubble wrap inside an eyeglass case — I found it very secure in terms of protecting against breakage and used that method for one of the watches I just shipped.

    But it’s less secure against theft than a box.

    I really like the tamper proof tape which I had no idea existed and I see available on Ebay! It sounds like a really good deterrent as everyone down the chain should notice tampering.

    I also like the newspaper @connieseamaster, I hate to put more plastic in the environment.
    Also heard about avoiding end of week shipments, I guess every little bit helps.
     
    Edited May 1, 2019
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  9. Omegafanman May 1, 2019

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    Just a thought but (I guess for more modern stuff) if an item has a large watch box consider splitting the shipment. Depending on the carrier service (weight/size/value) a lighter / smaller watch only box might be cheaper to send with a higher insurance value. The larger heavier OEM watch box and certificates can then have a reduced insurance level.... also if any b'stard nicks either they at least don't get the whole thing to sell on. It is worth a thought depending on how the international courier calculates their service charges. I also like to use handle with care logo tape plus as mentioned before take a video / get someone to witness that you did put the items in the boxes. Someone once sent a vintage guitar but the person the other end then claimed they only received an empty weighted guitar case in the parcel (bad times).
     
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  10. Observer I know nothing! May 1, 2019

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    I recently received an ebay purchase that was packed in a hardshell snap-open glasses case. Can't remember if that was inside a box or envelope, but it seemed pretty smart.
     
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  11. Vitezi May 1, 2019

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    Edited Mar 15, 2021
  12. Syrte MWR Tech Support Dept May 1, 2019

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  13. w154 May 1, 2019

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    Once I received something inside a book (although it wasn’t a fragile part). Very clever I thought...
     
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  14. Observer I know nothing! May 1, 2019

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    Sounds like a good way to get cheap Media Mail postage rates.
     
  15. Perseus May 1, 2019

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    I always wrap the watch head in bubble wrap and secure any extra's (bracelet links, screw drivers, etc.). I sold a Lum-Tec and USPS must have used the box as a soccer ball because it was shaken very hard, many times and the bracelet links came free from their compartment and beat the hell out of the watch case.
     
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  16. Dan S May 1, 2019

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    For a nice watch, if I want to go the extra mile, I wrap it in bubble wrap and put it inside an insulated souvenir cup with a lid. Then I put that in a shipping box with additional bubble wrap or other packing material. The cup costs a few dollars at the supermarket or discount store, but I look at it as a small extra gift for the person who purchased the watch, and the watch is extremely safe. You could step on the package without damaging the watch, and it is also safe against water since it is sealed inside the lidded cup.

    I have also used the small reusable food storage containers, or other small plastic boxes.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Omegafanman May 1, 2019

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    Knowing how crazy customs are these days I think cutting books up to hide stuff might make for an interesting X-ray and then prompt a package search... You need to declare something on the packet anyway for the insurance value.
     
    Throw the book at you.jpg
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  18. Deafboy His Holiness Puer Surdus May 1, 2019

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    Can you send it registered mail? It's very, very safe theft-wise. You can then simply use a padded envelope for packing with a bit of extra bubble-wrap. This was suggested to me by a very experienced watchmaker who deals with international transactions.
     
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  19. X350 XJR Vintage Omega Aficionado May 1, 2019

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  20. Syrte MWR Tech Support Dept May 1, 2019

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    Someone once used registered mail to send me as a gift three tiny gold plated Longines lady strap buckles in a padded envelope. I got the envelope all right but it was empty. Someone had opened it, removed the contents, sealed it again and when I got it I signed for it without checking. That’s one of the things I’m trying to avoid.
    Registered mail is on average very good but stuff can happen — and I want to minimize chances of it happening.