Grey market and buying online

2240 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  CometHunter
I've been reading some of the posts prior to joining and just needed to ask for help.

I would much rather spend my money locally, in this case at a local AD - locally for me would be a half a day trip.

However, buying online makes the possibility of owning a watch more of a reality due to the price differential between online and an AD locally.

In researching online stores I have been finding great reviews from folks, except if something goes wrong. For example, "authentic watches" has great reviews, but they do not seem to live up to the standards outlined on their website when it comes to dealing with customer service if a problem develops with the watch. I have found similar results with other online stores.

One review even stated that the watch they bought was a fake, another stated a watch was grey market, and yet another that the serial numbers were taken off.

This begs the following questions:

1) Are fakes a normal thing to receive when dealing with these big online stores?

2) I assume grey market is normal for online. I take this to mean that the same watch is sold over-seas as in the US, but you do not get a US warranty. Is this a correct assumption that oversea markets get the same quality watches sold in the US?

3) I also assume that the highend watches are of great quality, like Omega.
Do watch companies dump their stock that did not pass their inhouse quality inspection onto the online stores, and hence that is a reason they can sell them so cheaply?

4) Since finding online sources for store reviews is so readily available, why is discussing the pros/cons of various on-line stores on forums seem so taboo? Names are often deleted or omitted.

5) Given question 4 above, would not maintaining a list of great shops to frequent and a list to bad shops to avoid go a long way to cleaning up the industry?
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Hi bytes. Welcome to WTF and thank you for trusting us to answer your questions. I'll try!

1) It all depends upon with whom you're dealing. It seems more and more like fakes are "normal", but I would prefer to use the term "possible".

2) From what I understand, yes, you're correct. But I must add the qualifier I don't yet understand everything there is about this. I hope one of the others here can answer this question better.

3) I'm not at the factories to monitor their shipping practices, but I truly believe the answer is a resounding NO. High-end watch manufactures do not take their factory seconds or Quality Control rejects and sneak them out the back door to be sold online. They have too much pride in their reputations to allow second-rate product to leave the premises.

4) Some watch sites seem to be more "censorship- oriented" than others, and I cannot and will not speak for anyone except WatchTalkForums. be absolutely honest, I hardly ever go to other sites, so I just don't know! And besides. Being a bouncer here is enough, thank you!
As for us we allow the mention of just about anyone. All we ask is that this be done in the course of regular conversation and not as promoting business (direct links to the grey-market outlets for example). Ours is a professional site. We have paying sponsors who financially help us out. And it would be totally unfair to our sponsors if/when grey-market stores get free publicity. It is just common-sense when you stop and think about it.

We also do not tolerate the promotion of fakes. We will be happy to educate you about them but our policy regarding them is clearly stated in our Guidelines And Rules. You can ask "What makes this watch a fake?" and we will bend over backwards to help you out. If you say however "Hey- look at this imitation Sub I just bought!!!", well, that's where we will draw the line.

5) You are not the first to ask this. In an ideal world, a list of honest dealers and a list of crooked dealers would be a fantastic and extremely helpful thing to have.
But the good ones come and go. The bad ones keep coming and coming and changing their names and then changeing them again (really!)
There is just no way for us to keep track of them all. Good idea...not practical.

I hope this helped a little bit. They are excellent questions!
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Thanks for the reply comet.

I agree that it would be a fool's errand to dump one's rejects onto a different market - word would soon circulate that junk is also produced.

So, it seems like a safe bet to get a grey market watch online? Perhaps I should ask in the omega section where to get one :)
It's a very good idea to go to the Omega Forum and ask. They know a lot more about where to buy than I do.

Just for the record...
It's true I said it is "possible" rather than "normal' to find fake watches (irregardless of brand-name) when shopping online. But online is where you will find 99% of all your fakes. And there are a 'h-e-double hockey sticks' of a lot of fakes out there with more appearing all the time. Many are even proud of the fact their crap is "many thousands of dollars less then the genuine article". Give Me A Break!!!

I NEVER buy a watch online unless/until I can trust who I'm sending my hard-earned money to. And I NEVER NEVER NEVER buy gray market!!! I think you should be the same way.

The best way to know you are getting the real thing when buying a new watch is to buy from the company directly or from an Authorized Dealer.
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I just found a great watch I have been wanting locally at an AD. So before buying I went online and did some research on prices, etc. I also called a couple other local ADs and got prices there. What I found was that the internet dealer wanted $2500+ more than the local dealers, so it was a no-brainer.

But, if the internet dealer had been less that my local AD, then it comes down to price, warranty, peace of mind, etc.

I bought my wife a Bertolucci watch a few years ago, and the crystal cracked while it was in our jewelry drawer (not from hitting anything). The AD sent it back to be fixed, and within 2 weeks of getting it back, the same thing happened again. This time the AD said that they would just take it back and refund our money. We ended up buying a different watch from them, but had we bought that watch over the internet, we would have been stuck with it.
Hear that, kids? Sometimes the best deals are not through the internet! Plus with the AD, you get your watch right then and there. No waiting weeks (or months) for delivery and no worrying about it getting lost or stolen in the mail.
And, yes, sometimes they can "mysteriously vanish" while in the hands of those giant delivery services. I know because my son worked for one for a while.

Anyway, UDDwaine, thanks for sharing that positive outlook on ADs!
... and then you have experiences like mine. I've bought dozens of watches online. From big internet retailers, grey marketeers, used and new, from fellow enthusiasts, and from ebay. I am typically not the exception to "rules" so I'd like to think my experience is not unique. Not once have a received a blemished, non-running, fake or anything other than what I anticipated. I've not lost anything from careless shipping or theft. Am I careful and picky about who I choose to deal with? Sure. But I am not fearful of the process.

Over the course of my online dealings, I've saved well over $15K. *your mileage may vary. $15K can cover a lot of angst, if I were to receive something that needed attention. Now granted, most of my purchases have been under $5K and I'd probably not want to buy a Patek or Vacheron online (as if I could).

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Thanks for mentioning that, Russ, you're not unique.
Countless millions of pkgs. are sent and recieved each day without a glitch. Countless thousands of people receive their mail every day and will NEVER have any lost mail.

Due diligence does pay off, 'Know the seller', however you want to put it. All I really meant was be careful and do your homework when handing your money over to someony you can't see. When you least expect trouble, that's when it seems to happen.
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