For those considering purchasing a mechanical watch - 2

How to become a good watch buyer (continued)

6. The truth about the pros and cons of buying from a brand-authorized dealer

While a brand's authorized dealer is your safest bet for purchasing a luxury watch, there are other options out there and making an informed decision is the best course of action.
Purchasing from an authorized dealer has the following advantages over non-authorized dealers (the gray area):
  1. If you are an authorized dealer, they will deal with any problems you are unable to solve on your behalf. However, if you are not an authorized dealer, the manufacturer may not be able to fully understand the problem and may not be able to take responsibility for the problem.

  2. Some authorized dealers will even extend the warranty by 1-2 years beyond the manufacturer's warranty period.

  3. Manufacturer warranties obtained through authorized dealers are valid for use at other dealers and manufacturer service centers, but non-authorized dealers are only valid for the specific dealer. If the dealer goes out of business, the warranty becomes worthless.

  4. Authorized dealers often offer special orders, such as optional bracelets, straps, and pre-adjusted chronograph bezels, but not many others.

  5. Many people don't know that authorized dealers can also buy watches online. If you know what you want, you don't have to go to the store to buy it. You can order by phone or fax using your credit card, and they will mail the item to you. They will even adjust the bracelet of your watch to fit your wrist.
Having said that, authorized dealers are not perfect. In addition to not offering much discount off the manufacturer's retail price, authorized dealers also have the following downsides:
  1. They are polite and helpful, but they don't know much about watches. Some salespeople have never worked in a jewelry store and only have basic sales experience. If you're not a big spender or obviously rich, they won't bother you.

  2. If there are multiple stores in your area, you have to browse them all to find what you want and at the cheapest price.

  3. There may not be a dealer near you, and often authorized dealers are only available in urban areas, limiting the number of convenient places to buy a watch.

  4. Finding out more about authorized dealers in your area can be difficult, as not all manufacturers provide complete information about their dealers.

  5. Basically, you have to go while the store is open.

  6. Since retailers only deal with one manufacturer, they may not have many products in stock. In such cases, they will usually recommend other models. However, if that is the case, you can purchase directly from the store.

  7. The products on display in the store may have been tried on by customers. They may have been placed in a sunny display case and become faded or damaged in some way. They may have been taken out of the box or packaging, so the strap, clasp, or limited edition box may be different from a different watch of the same brand. For one customer, someone is making a sacrifice.

  8. It's hard to find original branded products. They may be able to order them for you if you ask, but it would be less hassle to ask the manufacturer's service center directly.

  9. Because manufacturers are slow to update their catalogs, it is often difficult to get information about new models and options. It is often hard to access information, so it is quicker to look at the manufacturer's website.

  10. They may spread unfounded rumors to gain an advantage over rival dealers.

7. What does a COSC certificate or chronometer rating on a watch really mean?

Although over-praised, a COSC certificate or chronometer rating for a mechanical watch (manual or automatic) no longer means much. Modern mechanical watches from luxury watch brands are now able to operate at the level of testing required to obtain the certification.

The Chronometer rating is often mistaken as an absolute guarantee of performance to a certain specification, with only one of the seven ratings used in the test, between -4 and 6 seconds per day. In reality, the value on the quality certificate is just an additional quality test that records the time the movement has kept, long before it is shaped into a watch. It does not guarantee that it will not deviate from a certain range. In fact, it is quite common for mechanical watches to lose time. That's why the Chronometer rating comes first. This test range was established decades ago, when mechanical watches were not as accurate as they are today.

For example, if you got an A+ in math in high school, does that mean you'll never make math mistakes in the rest of your life? It's the same with assessment tests. They're just proven under certain conditions, with certain measurements. There's no guarantee that it won't fall below a certain level in the future, and there's no guarantee that an untested watch will fall outside a certain range. But proof that it meets the required standards gives you confidence that it will continue to function well in the future.

The same goes for mechanical watches. If the watch passes the test, it will perform A+ . But the performance of a mechanical watch on a day-to-day basis, certified or not, can vary. It depends on how much the watch is scratched, how it was stored, if it has had any fatal shocks, etc. So you shouldn't put too much faith in the importance of the certificate. In particular, you shouldn't think that the watch is inferior if it doesn't have a certificate. It doesn't mean that it didn't undergo or pass the test, it just means that the additional tests were not done.

These types of certifications are now more used as a marketing and sales tool between competing brands. They add a little extra prestige to your watch of choice, but nothing more. Any mechanical watch from a high-end brand will last you through the warranty period without any issues if properly adjusted.

8. I was reading reviews of a watch I wanted online and some of the comments made me feel uneasy.

In fact, any "problems" you may hear about should not be considered in isolation. If you're looking at high-end, mass-produced luxury products like Rolex, Omega, BMW , Mercedes, etc., the quality doesn't vary much. Even with excellent quality control, everything hinges on the slightest manufacturing imprecision or deviation. You'd be hard pressed to find a luxury brand that hasn't had a history of technical issues.

Furthermore, many people who own a high-end mechanical watch for the first time tend to have unfounded expectations about operation, accuracy, durability, precision, etc. Most complaints that come in for these reasons are not actually malfunctions or problems with the watch itself.

To think about this, let's take the example of the most famous luxury watch brand, Rolex. Rolex produces millions of watches a year. Even though their products boast a 99.995% quality rating ( the actual figure is not made public, but it's just an example of how good they are ) , over the past 10 years, 50,000 watches sold have had some kind of defect.

Most people who post reviews on the Internet have probably purchased at least one luxury watch in the past 10 years. Even if they post about minor issues, they are only a representative sample of the problems that can occur with watches that have been produced in large quantities for decades. There are certainly problems reported for every brand. However, the number of problems reported for luxury watch manufacturers such as Omega and Rolex is very low, which is an excellent number. These types of product problems are unfortunate and unavoidable, but overall they are very few in number and can usually be resolved within the warranty period.

Sometimes, haters post negative information on the web to tarnish a particular brand. Most of the time, it's either to get back at the brand or to say, "Pay me if you want me to shut you up." Despite the emotional rhetoric, these actions rarely cause confusion and alienate customers. Some people even continue posting even after the problem has been resolved by the dealer or manufacturer.

Luxury brands don't need to be overly afraid of criticism like this, because behind every reported problem are thousands, or even thousands, of happy, problem-free users.

9. Should I invest in watches with resale value?

Watches are a great investment. But they're not for everyone. Just remember that watches, like cars, will generally lose value over time unless you have knowledge of the market and the bestsellers. When you buy a new car or watch, it immediately loses value. When it comes to luxury watches, you'll likely only be able to sell them for 40-80 % of what you paid for them new.

The average watch enthusiast will likely lose money on a resale, or at best, have a 50/50 chance, and many simply view the time it takes to own a watch as a cost.

Don't be fooled by claims that a particular watch will sell for more if you resell it. Unless it's truly rare or a collector's item, most watches will lose value over time. Resale value should be measured by how much money you lose, not how much you can make back.

Here's an example: Consider a watch with a purchase price to resale value of 80% for $ 3,500 versus 60% for $ 1,750 . You might think the more expensive option is a better investment, but you'd be surprised at how much you could lose.

$ 3,500 when purchased new, $ 2,800 when resold (80%) , $ 700 loss
When purchased new, it cost $ 1,750 . $ 1,050 (60% ) on resale , $ 700 loss

The figures above are just examples. You should evaluate your choice of watch in more detail than relying on generalizations about resale value. When it comes to investing and reselling a pre-owned watch, it is better value because the resale value has already dropped. Therefore, it will not be difficult to resell it for close to the price you paid.

10. Watches are not a good investment? But why are there so many used watches that sell for more than when they were new?

It's true that there are plenty of watches that will increase in value over their new state. But as we said in the previous chapter, generalizations and narrow-mindedness can make it hard to see which watches are good investments and which aren't. Again, unless you're extremely lucky, have great knowledge, or are dealing in high-demand watches, watches are not a good investment.

For example, could you buy a 1969 Omega Speedmaster Professional for $ 300 ? If it's in good condition, it would be worth at least $ 1,000 today. Looking at the numbers alone, it looks like this watch is worth more than three times as much. But is that really the case? Because "dollar value" also needs to be converted.

Based on the US Consumer Price Index, the value of $ 300 in 1969 is about 4.7 times the value in 2000. Paying $ 300 to buy a watch back then is equivalent to paying $ 1,400 today. If that watch is worth at least $ 1,000 today, it has retained more than 70% of its "real" value. "Real" value refers to how long you can use it for the money you paid. In this case, if you use it for 31 years, it is equivalent to buying a $ 400 watch, including maintenance costs. This is not the surprising story of the value tripling , as mentioned earlier.

To make things easier to understand, let's use another example. A Rolex Datejust purchased in 1981 for $ 900 would be worth $ 1700 in 2000. That watch would be worth at least $ 1400 today, so it would still retain more than 80% of its "real" value. This is the same as buying a $ 300 watch, including maintenance, and using it for 20 years.

Almost all watches lose investment value over time - it can only go down, not up.

11. What factors give a watch high resale value?

First off, there is no magic formula. As we said before, watches are generally not a good investment. So, buy the watch you like best. If you ever think about reselling your watch ( and there are a few luxury watch owners who do ) , pay attention to the following things that will or won't affect the resale value:

The most important reason why resale prices vary by brand, model and individual watch is:

  • The objectives of pre-owned buyers are somewhat different from those of new buyers. Pre-owned buyers are looking for watches that will depreciate in value in exchange for the aforementioned benefits they get from buying a watch new. Therefore, what is attractive is different in the new and pre-owned markets.

  • The price of a new watch can skyrocket due to added value such as rare metals, diamonds and other precious stones, mechanical movements, special specifications, etc. In the resale market, such added value also has a certain value, but the price does not rise as much as it does in the new market.

  • When it comes to pre-owned items, condition is the most important factor in determining value. As opposed to new items that come with a warranty and are in pristine condition, pre-owned items are subject to price fluctuations and risk. Certain brands, models, movements, etc. are rated as better or worse than their average reliability.

Generally, people's interests, needs, and fashions change, and watches with good reviews will be in high demand in the second-hand market.

To determine whether a product has good resale value, you first need to know what kind of second-hand item buyers are willing to pay for.

What factors increase resale prices ?

  • Scarce or hard to obtain : The basic economic laws of supply and demand mean that people will pay more for something they want but that is hard to get.

  • Limited Edition : Watch brands sometimes sell "limited edition" items to mark anniversaries such as the founding of their brand, historical events, or in response to requests for limited edition sales. If the number of items sold is small, the resale value will increase in the future.

  • It comes with a warranty : If the manufacturer or dealer's warranty comes with any watch you buy second-hand, this will definitely be an advantage when it comes to reselling it.

  • Previously owned by a celebrity : This is a bit of a special case, but watches that were previously owned by celebrities can sell for a high price, even if they are standard models. In particular, watches worn by movie stars or historical figures during filming or at historic events can command a premium in the pre-owned and collectibles markets.

Resale value will increase, but only slightly ...

  • "Limited Edition" that's not even limited : Limited edition products lose their sense of rarity when they are in quantities of 5,000 or 10,000 . The number may seem small, but it's not that different from the number of watches sold per year for a single model. If a manufacturer is selling a large number of models as "limited edition," the resale price will drop to the same level as that of regular watches.

  • Same model, but mechanical and quartz : Some watchmakers offer two versions of the same model, mechanical and quartz. Luxury brands will charge a higher price for the mechanical version to create a premium feel. When it comes to resale, the mechanical version is also more rare than the quartz version of the same model. However, the quartz version is slightly more advantageous for resale than the original price.

  • Original box and wrapping paper included : Many people feel happy when they buy a watch and it comes with a box, and few people will be interested in it and put it away in the back of their closet. Therefore, the original box increases the sale of the watch. It is especially ideal for gifts. However, unless it is a new product, the presence or absence of a box or wrapping paper does not have a significant impact on the resale price.

  • The watch has a well-ordered serial number : If the serial number used during production is an even number, has an interesting pattern, is special to the product, or has hidden meaning (as seen on the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch), these numbers may be of novelty interest but generally have little impact on resale value.

What factors cause items to lose value when reselling them ?

  •   Gold, Platinum, or Rare Metals : Watches made from these metals sell well on the secondary market, but do not command the same premium as new watches. These watches are inflated in value because they are new, and can sell for 10 to 20 times the price of a pre-owned watch. Resale values ​​will reflect market value, not the premium.

  • Diamond : Diamonds on dials, bezels and other components are highly valuable when new, but like any precious and rare metal, they command a premium when new.

  • The cheapest watch in this model range : Among luxury brands, there are clearly the cheapest models that do not have the features of the main product lines. Rolex, in particular, has a series called the "Air King" that does not have a COSC certificate or a date display function. For a slightly lower price, you can get a watch that is close to what you want, and some buyers of new products seem to find this attractive. However, these cheapest models lose value and demand in the resale market. If you are considering reselling, it is not a good choice.

Finally, what factors can seriously reduce resale value ?

  • Watches without serial numbers : Believe it or not, gray market dealers often remove serial numbers from watches they buy at a discount. The original manufacturer's service center will not accept these watches, and repair shops will not be able to source the parts for them. This type of risk lowers the resale value, especially for brands that publicly state that watches without serial numbers are not covered by their service.

  • Customized Watches : Just like cars, some people customize their watches. They may engrave their name or a memorable message on the back, or use aftermarket parts or parts from other models to make the watch more unique. This type of modification is expensive and reduces the value of the watch. Few people want something that someone else has customized.

  •   Not durable : Even watches from the same luxury brand are not made the same. Some mid-range brands are not built with durability in mind.

  • Brands with large discounts on retail prices : While some discounts are possible, resale prices are usually based on retail prices. However, if a brand officially offers a large discount in-store, you can still buy it cheaply without buying it second-hand, so there is no resale value. This does not affect luxury brands, however.

12. Why do warranty periods differ depending on the store where you purchase the product?

Watch manufacturers offer limited warranties on their products, usually only for a year. In today's world, warranties on such high-end products are merely a formality. To keep watch buyers interested, many authorized dealers extend the warranty period by an additional year or two .

It is important to know that in most cases, this extended warranty service is not authorized by the manufacturer. The watch manufacturer's warranty is only valid for the original factory warranty period, which in most cases is one year after purchase. After this period, the manufacturer's service center will not accept the " extended " warranty for free. This extended warranty period is a contract between the distributor who sold the watch and you, the customer.

Unauthorized dealers ( grey market ) cannot provide the manufacturer's official warranty on the watches they sell. However, they try to gain an advantage in the sales competition by offering long warranties from their dealers. Again, the warranties are those of the specific dealer and are not authorized by the watch manufacturer or the official dealer.

13. What does it mean to sell a watch with " open documentation " or " open documentation " ?

The words " open documentation " or " open document " give the impression to the novice watch buyer that the warranty is convertible and open-ended, so it sounds like you can start the warranty period at any time ( usually it's one year ) . But beware - this is far from the truth!

What this actually means is that the warranty has not been properly completed. Even if such a warranty exists, it is not valid as a warranty. In most cases, a warranty is only valid if it has a dealer's stamp, but if the date is blank, it is meaningless. In other cases, the warranty card itself may be blank. In either case, the existence of a warranty is meaningless.

The warranty card is not a pass in itself for free service. If you present it at a dealer or manufacturer's service center, you will likely be asked to provide additional documentation, such as the purchase date and status. Even authorized dealers will ask for a warranty card if it is lost, illegible, or incomplete.

This means that no matter what the warranty card says, it is not a guarantee of service in itself, and even more so, if the dealer does not keep a receipt that matches the date of purchase, the warranty will be void.

14. What are "gray market" watches?

Grey market watches are still genuine watches. They are never fakes or outlet items. The only difference is that they passed through the hands of an unauthorized dealer or seller before arriving in your hands, and the manufacturer's warranty is no longer valid.

15. What watches may look the same but are fakes or replicas?

Luxury watches are often copied as replicas. The prices of these fake watches vary from as low as $10 to as high as several hundred dollars, but most seem to sell for between $100 and $150. They are not exactly replicas of the appearance of the real thing, but they often imitate the brand logo, serial number, and other details.

Also, some brands sold at department stores, such as Peugeot, ESQ, Fossil, Citizen, Wilson, Timex, and Seiko, have watches that are similar to popular models from luxury brands such as Omega, Rolex, and Breitling, but they are not so similar that they would cause any trouble.

16. Things to keep in mind when purchasing new products from a dealer online

Many luxury watch brands, including Omega, publicly discourage buying new watches from dealers selling them over the internet. They maintain that genuine watches should be purchased from authorized dealers. Most luxury brands do not allow their authorized dealers to transact over the internet. However, I am happy to say that exceptions are being made more and more.

Ironically, many of the watch brands that have denied the many unauthorized dealers on the Internet only provide limited information on their official websites. This naturally draws customers away from authorized dealers and towards unauthorized dealers. The desire for more information leads them to wander from one unauthorized online store to another.

Purchasing through an authorized dealer is the safest way to get a genuine luxury watch. You will be able to get warranty service directly from the manufacturer or from other authorized retailers or repair centers. You won't be stuck with a fake, gray market, or non-serial numbered watch. You will be initially sold at retail price, but many dealers will allow you to negotiate a 10-20% discount off that price. Even authorized dealers these days are offering warranties that are 1-2 years longer than the manufacturer. There are other ways to buy, but they come with risks, in exchange for money in your wallet.

Many luxury watch manufacturers do not allow their authorized dealers to sell on the Internet. It seems that any watches available through the Internet are often gray market products. That being said, there are many people who have purchased watches from reputable gray dealers and are satisfied. On the other hand, there are also quite a few people who have purchased from authorized dealers but are dissatisfied. When making expensive purchases, it is a good idea to ask questions about the product and brand until you are fully satisfied before purchasing.

Also, do not confuse authorized dealers who deal with the Internet with unauthorized dealers who sell directly through the Internet. Many luxury watch manufacturers use the Internet to promote their products and communicate with customers. Many authorized dealers can be found on the Internet and can take orders directly through their site by phone or fax.