What is the “grey market”?
Give us a try before you buy your watch from a non authorized grey market retailer
Here’s what you need to know about buying watches online-
What is a grey market watch?
Put simply, it is a watch being offered for sale in the USA which was meant for a different world market. The watch was sold by the manufacturer to a distributor in another part of the world, and then “transshipped” to the USA. The manufacturers have contracts with USA importers for exclusivity, and this grey market works outside of that.
You can usually tell if a watch is being sold grey market; authorized dealers are not allowed to advertise watches at a major discount. If you see a watch online and the discount is more than 25%- 30% off the website is likely selling grey market watches. Most major Swiss brands will have a disclaimer on the main websites about their warranty policy.
Did you know…
Even the major internet websites such as Am*zon, *verstock, etc are selling “grey market” watches.
So what does this mean?
There’s not much the manufacturers can do to battle this, they’ve been trying for years and it doesn’t seem to have much effect. Grey market goods are usually the genuine article. They are the same product you would get walking into your fine jeweler. And they are available at significant savings. Free shipping. No sales tax. Tempting, I know.
So, why shouldn’t you buy grey?
There is only one good reason not to buy online from an online discounter- the watch will have no manufacturer warranty. The USA distributor did not benefit from the initial sale of the product. They have no obligation or incentive to repair your watch under warranty since you didn’t buy it from them. Go to Burger King and complain that your Big Mac was cold. You’ll get the same treatment.
Grey marketers get around this by offering their own warranty. This is the scary part. A company selling on razor thin margins cannot possibly staff a quality watchmaker (or team of watchmakers if they are a bigger operation). A quality watchmaker’s skills are in enormous demand, and watch repair is time consuming and expensive. A grey market company cannot hire skilled watchmakers on the business model where they make $20-$30 on a sale, ship it for free, and then have to back it up. They hire whomever will “get it out the door”. Grey market companies do not have access to genuine spare parts. This high quality watch is going to be repaired by the lowest bidder using generic parts. That’s the reality of a grey market warranty.
When you decide, you have to compare the upfront savings to the potential costs. This article was written to educate, not to frighten. If the up front savings are so much that, even if the watch fails, a paid factory repair is still less than the authorized selling price, it is logical to at least consider sourcing from a reputable grey market dealer. I hate to concede that, but if you save $1000 up front and have a potential $400 repair worst case… I know what I’d do.
So, what does this all mean?
We are an old fashioned, service based business. That doesn’t mean we’re not with the times. All of our watches have been purchased via the authorized channels. We don’t want our showroom to look like a museum- we want things to move. Watches look far better on your wrist than in my showcase. Before you buy online (and I know it’s tempting to get something in one click), give us an opportunity to match or even come close to the grey market price. We may surprise you- and the warranty and after sales service is not even a question. It’s backed up, guaranteed.
Call, or send an email with what you want and a link to where you found it discounted, and we’ll do our very best to win your business.
**APRIL 2017 UPDATE!! Thanks for making it this far. I didn’t want to break up the article with this sales pitch but we have A LOT of stock at our shop, unsold. In April 2017 we posted every watch in our shop that’s done more than one orbit around the sun up for sale here thewatchmaker.com/april-2017-clearance/. I can’t post pricing due to our agreements w/the brands, but if you want one of them they can be had for even less than the grey market in some cases. They are just sitting here getting older. Grab one. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote or call 781 438 6977. If we have it and you want it and it’s on this list we’ll make it happen.
The brands that we retail are: Luminox, Oris, Hamiton, Ball Watch, Claude Bernard, Mido, Mondaine, Citizen, Victorinox, Zeppelin, & Junkers. If you’re shopping for one of these brands, make sure you check with us before buying grey.
781 438 6977
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