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      03-14-2014, 12:27 AM   #23
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You are better off buying a slightly used watch or go the reseller route that purchases from US AD's and not considered "grey market" because they will have a warranty card although it won't have your name on it. Manufacturers will honor that warranty.

I will add that I purchased a Panerai through a gray market dealer and since the warranty info in in the manual, I received it and a warranty repair was honored without any hesitation from the AD. Although it's not typical that a high end watch will malfunction during the warranty period, it sure beats having to pay for a repair out of pocket.
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      03-14-2014, 03:19 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by kscarrol View Post
Just curious, have you confirmed this with Movado? The Authenticwatch website explicitly warns that watch makers will not honor warranties so they (Authenticwatches) offer their own warranty in its place...
The warranty status of watches found at GMSes is one of the murkiest things you'll find this side of swamp water. Some GMS' watches are purchased from the manufacturer and/or manufacturer's boutiques. Some are purchased from ADs who sell them to the GMS in order to meet performance quotas or to free up what in retail parlance is called "open to buy." As a consumer, it's unlikely you'll be able to find out how the GMS came by the watch.

I've heard tell that if the maker offers a different warranty term than the GMS does for the same item, it's likely that the watch came from a GMS and the GMS is going to provide. The same folks tell me that if the warranty period matches, there's no way to tell. I don't know how whether either line is true. I do know that if the GMS won't warranty the watch, you shouldn't buy it from them.

"Open to buy" is essentially a line of credit provided to a retailer by a financing company. It's what allows most retailers to be able to purchase inventory to sell. In the car business, the same exact thing is referred to as "floor plan." If a seller has a $2M line of credit and they use it to purchase $500K of inventory, the creditor will pay the maker for the inventory and the retailer makes payments on the $500K, which is secured by the inventory itself. (Thus creditors to watch sellers who go belly up may also sell to a GMS.) If the retailer sells $1000K of merchandise, s/he pays the creditor and the open to buy goes from $1.5M to $1.6M.

When a new season comes along or a heavily promoted new model/style comes out, retailers want to carry that one not the old one. If they have enough open to buy, they will just carry both models. If they don't, they'll act to free up the open to buy and carry just the new one.

So now, back to the warranty. Some manufacturers are more concerned about the goodwill relationship with folks who have authentic, not stolen, pieces that they produced and they will perform warranty repairs regardless of how you came by it so long as it's within warranty period. Others are less big picture oriented. Some are big picture this month and not next month. What stance the maker takes depends on a number of things, all of which won't be known to you the consumer.

The short of it is that if you buy from a GMS, the sole expectation you can legitimately have is with regard to the warranty the GMS provides.

Considerations that you may not have explored:
  • Does the GMS have a reasonably well skilled watch repair person on staff? Normally, if they do, you can talk to them and get as sense.
    • Just ask the guy what he thinks about the watch you want to buy. Ask him if he's worked n them before. Ask what difficulties he's had dong so with that watch or with others. If he's got a lot of good detailed answers, odds are very good he's a capable fellow and you can rely on him to take care of your watch if the GMS has to cover your warranty repair. I probably wouldn't put too much trust in the guy if he has nothing but vague or empty answers. One exception is if s/he clearly doesn't have the nation's language as his/her first language. Sometimes in situations like that, folks say less just because they aren't sure of themselves in that language. The one thing I've found though is that if they say the don't know something, or haven't worked with a brand/company, they aren't lying.
    • Ask the guy how long he's worked for that company and how long he's been repairing watches. If he's been there for 30 years, he could retire at any moment. If he's been there for 7 years, but also been working with watches for about 10+ years, he's far less likely to go anywhere. You get the idea? It's a judgment call to be sure, but unless you ask the guy if he plans to leave -- you can ask, but I can't say what answer you'll get -- it's as good a sense as you're going to get.
  • How much access does the GMS have to proprietary parts if God forbid such a thing would be needed (super rare with good watches, but it's happened even to the best of them at least once). FPJ uses proprietary screws, for example. Some watches requires unique tools that may have been custom made for that watch company, in which case, it may take special skills/training to fix the darn thing, and that's assuming (for warranty work) that it can be fixed rather than having to be replaced. You can find this out by speaking with the maker and speaking with external repairmen. If the watch you are considering is such a watch, I'd strongly suggest buying from an AD. Do your best to haggle the price down, but don't screw your self over by buying from a GMS when you know up front that if something happens, the only recourse they can offer you is replacement. I can tell you now, the GMS will be looking for everything they can find to ensure they don't have to replace a watch, much less a very expensive one.
  • Is there a local watch repairman in your town who could do the job if push came to shove? You'll need to do your own homework/legwork on this. I have my own "watch guy," but I have enough trouble getting hold of him because he's too busy as it is. Regardless of where you buy your watch, it's always a good idea to find a local watch repairman who knows his stuff, and it's best to find the guy while your watch is still working. That way you won't be pressed if/when you need his help and you can show him the watch in question while it's still working fine and he can look at it and give you the best input.
  • How "uncommon" and or esoteric is your watch? Bear in mind, this is a question that needs to be answered from a watchmakers/watch repairman's perspective, not a consumer's. You won't seem a lot of VC or PP watches on folks' wrists, but to a watch guy, their movements aren't anything they can't handle, at least the simple ones. Similarly any brand's, say minute repeater or sonnierie or multi-complication watch. Or, hypothetically, if the guy has to replace a beveled cog wheel, he may know how but not have the tool to do so.

    (Those sorts of things should give you some ideas about what you want to discuss with a repairman. In the past, or when I'm away from home, I will ask questions of that nature not because I want to know, but to see how he handles them. It's another way to get a good sense of the guy's integrity as well as knowledge and skill.)
Hope that helps you figure out for yourself if and for which purchases a GMS is a comfortable option for your and for which a GMS may not be such a good option. Obviously, these are the types of things one'll do if one is serious about their watch, but one doesn't have to be that serious. It's really just about how much you give a damn and what level of risk you can endure.



One thing I can fairly easily say is that the considerations of warranty repairs and servicing are why a whole lot of folks are perfectly happy to buy an expensive and fancy ETA-based watch instead of some in-house creation that only three people on the planet can work on. Ease of ownership is one reason folks like Rolex. It's why I don't push folks hard to buy "out there," expensive, in-house movement watches.


Fancy watches are like fancy cars, although they usually cost a bit less to buy. The maintenance costs are for many of the pricey ones almost the same. Fancy watches are in many ways no different, but the service costs can actually be higher.
Last words to the wise: of all the top brands, AP seems to cost the most to maintain and they are the fussiest about warranties. VC seems to take the longest to get the watch back to you. Rolex's policy is to restore the watch to "like new" condition when you send it in, so there's no telling what they may find that needs fixing that they'll just fix and bill you for it, which is why watch guys get a lot of Rolex work.


All the best.
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      03-14-2014, 08:59 AM   #25
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Thanks Tony, lots of good information.

Maybe I missed it but do you know if the manufacturer will fix it for a price (possibly not the same policy for all)? To me any warranty has a value but there are also limits to what it is worth. If I know worst case scenario is I can send it back to the manufacturer at least I have another way to get it fixed (at a price) and am assured it can be fixed.
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      03-16-2014, 12:07 PM   #26
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thanks for all the great info tony20009
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      03-16-2014, 03:56 PM   #27
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+1 on AW. Bought an Omega from them 10 years ago - still works a-ok. Not because they sold it. But because it was authentic.
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      03-16-2014, 06:08 PM   #28
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No one has ever questioned the authenticity of the watches sold by Authenticwatches.com... The focus is on the warranty issue and I agree, the odds of having an issue is very small. Buying from AW only becomes an issue if you are unfortunate enough to be in that very small number of buyers who do have an issue.

With some shopping around you can get reasonably close to AW prices. I bought a Breitling Seawolf from my local AD when they discounted the price to within a couple hundred dollars of what jomashop and AW were selling for. For me, $200 on a $4,000 dollar watch is a small price to pay for not having to deal with the warranty issue. For others, that 5% savings is more important. I would have no problem buying from a gray market seller such as AW if the price difference were larger in my case. Just a matter of understanding the potential risks you are taking...
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      03-16-2014, 06:14 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David70 View Post
Thanks Tony, lots of good information.

Maybe I missed it but do you know if the manufacturer will fix it for a price (possibly not the same policy for all)? To me any warranty has a value but there are also limits to what it is worth. If I know worst case scenario is I can send it back to the manufacturer at least I have another way to get it fixed (at a price) and am assured it can be fixed.
The easiest way to know is to just ask. Email or a phone call are my preferred methods.

Generally speaking, so long as the watch isn't on their list of stolen serial numbers, a watch company will fix any of their products that need fixing. If a customer is paying for the repair, there's little doubt that they'll be willing to fix it and they'll charge whatever they think they can get away with, especially if they know they are the only ones who can perform the repair. (say if special tools or parts or part fabrication methods are needed)

Consider the "expensive ETA-based watch" example I mentioned above. I'm sure it crossed your mind that in the big picture sense, there are two side to that coin.
  • Side 1: If you buy say Jacob & Co's Caligula watch, you're spending upwards of $60K for a watch that has an ETA 7750 in it. Essentially instead of spinning a needle around, it uses the chrono movement to gyrate the hips and other body parts of little figurines that are fornicating. (NSFW: http://www.watchonista.com/2914/watc...%80%99s-behind) At that price, one'll likely want to keep the thing for a very long time, perhaps pass it on to one's kids or something. Well, it's quite possible that 40 or 50 years from now the 7750 is no longer a common movement and has been superseded by something else. Are there still parts around to replace any worn/broken ones if needed? Could the whole 7750 movement instead just be replaced with the newer chrono movement? Maybe. Maybe not.

    That's the risk with mass produced movements. Sure, that they are mass produced means it'll take a very long time -- probably far more than 40 years -- before part scarcity becomes a real concern, but at $20K+ price levels, that watch is going to hang around for a long time too (barring major catastrophe) and someday it will be a factor.
  • Side 2: If you buy a manufacture watch, especially a handmade (handmade, not hand finished) watch, it won't matter how long the watch or its movement have been out of production; the maker will still be able to deal with it. Yes, you'll pay through the nose to have the do so, but the fact remains that they can do so. All you'll need is (1) money, and (2) for them to still be in business when it happens.
So those are the two vantage points against which one must balance one's own set of pros and cons as goes choosing a watch. The two sides are more endpoints, factors, on a continuum than they are "this or that" alternatives. Much as it's be great if things were black and white, they aren't. Each person's situation is different.


The other thing to keep in mind is 3rd party watch repairmen (watchmakers). Quite often they too can fabricate relatively standard parts. Sometimes they can cannibalize parts from one watch and use them in another, even when the watches are totally different brands and types. No, they may not be able to reproduce or obtain the same identical part that was originally used in the watch, but they can often enough find one that will suffice without imposing any meaningful, negative impact on the watch or to the owner's user experience.


As for the value of a warranty, well, it's only good for as long as it's in force. Overwhelmingly, watches, even the cheapest of them, will last and work just fine well beyond the two year period that most watch warranties last. That fact is part of why GMSs are such popular places to buy watches. It's not impossible for there to be a "lemon" watch, but the chances of one being so are quite slim. GMSs sell authentic goods, the same goods that would have been sold either at the manufacturer's own boutique or at an AD's store.



The watches at GMSs aren't like, say the store branded clothing one finds at Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom Rack (NR) branded goods are made expressly to suit the price point and marketing strategy associated with the NR customer and were never offered in the main-line Nordstrom's stores. It's not the same level of merchandise; the construction quality may be comparable, but perhaps the fabrics are less plush or the styling is plainer. Maybe the NR shirts use "basic" cotton rather than the long staple cotton found in John Nordstrom shirts that are offered in the main Nordstrom's stores. The watches at GMSs aren't that sort of merchandise.


Did I answer the questions you had? Let me know if I missed something as I'm not totally sure just which angle you were interested in.


All the best.
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      03-16-2014, 06:15 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mindovaanything View Post
thanks for all the great info tony20009
YW. TY for reading it.

All the best.
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