Such a situation must feel depressing for the poor enthusiast.
But one has to admit that the customs need to do their job and the people they randomly check could very well be second hand watch dealers so the argument "it is an old watch" doesn't hold water.
I can only imagine the custom officers strategy to select their "targets":
- bearded/bespectacled? check
- flannel suit/shirt? check
- bronze watch on the wrist? check
- camera around the neck? check
- little suitcase/backpack? check
- American accent as well? ok, let's screen him!
Quite a different check list from the DEA officers at the NY airports!