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Some of us may know him better, but for all who are new to the hobby of watch collecting; Zai Zhu is the founder of Discount Watch Store (DWS). DWS is one of the leading secure online watch dealer based in Milford, CT. Zai was contacted recently and asked if he will answer some questions for us at WTF, and he graciously consented.

1) Could you tell us a little bit of Discountwatchstore and its history?

Zai I started Discount Watch Store back in late 2002. Initially I was just an Invicta dealer, but slowly I added more brands and began to offer a wider selection of watches and accessories. Today DWS carries over 3000 styles of watches from about 80 brands.

2) Tell us a little about yourself, what lead you into this business?

Zai I started this business purely from having an interest in watches. Often times when I walk in the mall I find myself drawn to jewelry stores and their watch collections. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I would look at this watch and then that watch and try to determine which I like better. Then it hit me one day, why not start a watch business of my own. I never like the brick and mortar retail work environment. The hours are too long and working 7 days a week was not very appealing. An online retail store was the perfect solution. I can pretty much work from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

3) I noticed that you have put in a considerable number of articles on your site in watch selection and good internet purchase practices. They are good articles by the way. :thumbup1: Do you feel that watch retail through the internet will continue to grow and revolutionize the industry?

Zai I definitely believe that watch retail via the Internet will continue to grow. I think more and more brands (including the Swiss brands) will come to realize that the Internet is a venue that cannot be ignore. As more and more people get Internet access everyday, more and more people will start to shop online. This represents an area of tremendous growth opportunity for any brand in my opinion.

5) What are the Japanese and Asian brands currently sold by DWS?

Zai We currently carry Citizen, Seiko, Pulsar, Orient, and to a very limited extend Casio watches.

6) Japanese and Asian watches are not taken as seriously as Swiss watches by some collectors. Do you think this is true or are the trends changing?

Zai I think the trend is more true when we talk about mechanical watches. Most people that I have spoke with seems to think that there is not much of a difference between Swiss quartz and Japanese quartz watches and will most of the time go with Japanese quartz models due to the price difference. As far as mechanical watches are concerned, when you think about two of the largest movement suppliers in the world, ETA and Citizen, it becomes a little clearer as to why there is such a descrepancy in perception towards Swiss and Japanese movements. In my opinion, ETA does make superior mechanical movements than Citizen. However, they also cost more. So in terms of value, the Japanese is a better deal.

7) Have Japanese brands like Seiko, Citizen, Casio and Orient been growing in the US market these last few years? How are they influencing the hobby of watch collecting?

Zai Talking to different sales reps, it does appear that these brands are growing in the US market. I know my sales of these brands have grown over the last few years. As these brands continue to grow, they offer watch collectors a greater range of products to choose from. And these brands are very much technology driven, so it makes watch collecting that much more interesting if you like technology in watches.

8) Do you foresee a market for high end Japanese watches like the Grand Seiko, Credor, Royal Orient or Citizen Campanola in the North American market?

Zai I think there is definately a market in North America for these watches, however, most of these watches are not readily available in North America. Hopefully, in the near future this situation will improve.

9) What is your favorite Japanese or Asian watch? Tell us why.

Zai My favorite Japanese watch is Citizen. I like their Eco-Drive technology. The main reason is convenience of course. It is quartz-watch accurate, but without the need for a battery change. My daily watch is a Citizen perpetual calendar alarm model BL8000-54L.

11) What is your most memorable or best experience in this business?

Zai My best experiences in this business has got to be chatting with different watch collectors about different watches. I am happy to see how many people share the same interest as me. Along the way, I have made many friends. While some may see us as a little nutty, but they don't understand. Besides, watch collecting is a much healthier hobby than many others.

12) Is there a particular Japanese and Asian watch that excites you, like a grail watch that you would love to own?

Zai I get excited everytime my reps bring me new styles. I like a lot of watches so it is difficult for me single one out that I am crazy over. You have to understand that since I am in the watch business and have to deal with hundreds of watches everyday, I have to refrain myself from wanting too many watches. Or else, I would be very broke :)

Spoken like a true WIS. :D Thank you Zai for letting us take some of your time. We wish you all the best!

Premium Member
24,995 Posts
I've known Zai since he started out as an Invicta only dealer. Currently he's exclusive sponsor of the J&A forum here on WTF - great guy! :thumbup:
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