Lessons to be learned from someone elses unfortunate encounter.
There's a posting on another watch forum where a seller (the victim) agreed to meet a buyer (unknown) that didn't have any references. They agreed to meet at a local bar to buy/sell two valuable watches.
After reviewing the watches in the bar, they moved outside to the buyer's car to make the cash and watch exchange. The buyer sat in the front seat and the seller and his girlfriend sat in the back.
The buyer took the two watches and bolted from the front seat to a waiting "get-away" car and the seller and his girlfriend were stuck in the back seat unable to get out because the doors were child locked. The buyer's car was likely stolen!
I feel bad for the seller.
To me the lessons learned are:
1) Always try to get references before buying or selling any watches. There are tons of great people on VRF and the other watch forums but there are also too many crooks!;
2) Its fine to meet a crowded bar or restaurant, but if you're meeting someone with little to no references insist on seeing and holding the buyers drivers license or passport while they're viewing the watches. A buyer can always bolt from the restaurant but I beleive they're less likely to do that if you're holding their passport. If the buyer or seller I'm meeting has weak references then I tell them on the phone ahead of time that I will need them to show me their license or passport at the meeting. I take a photo of their license or passport and email to a buddy with our meeting place. I have had two or three buyers refuse to agree to show me their driver's license or passport. Needless to say I never scheduled those meetings.
3) Don't move to a strangers car to make the exchange. You're better off sitting in the corner of a restaurant or in a booth to complete the transaction.
Most importantly I would highly recommend that us hobbyists only transact with buyers and sellers that have trusted references. This is a great hobby for the majority of us and it's not worth the stress and physical risk to buy or sell to someone who doesn't have rock solid references.