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Newbie here just getting my feet wet with watch collecting as a hobby. Due to my Ducati, Nikon, cigars, scotch, and classic VW interests this isn't going to be a full-on deep dive into collecting but watches have always been a careful consideration for me when purchasing ...plus I'm not wealthy by any means, I just shop carefully...most of the time :-d I plan on doing some of my own work (the simple stuff like battery & strap changes for now) as I'm very mechanically inclined -- if you own a classic VW it comes with the territory, LOL ;-)

My question: I've seen some on-line sites that sell watches and some claim pretty decent sale prices vs. manufacturer's suggested price. A good example is World of Watches. I'm intrigued but cautious. Are these legit prices or are they simply stating what the going price actually is?
 

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Yes. The Gray Market dealers and authorized discount dealers sell legit stuff. You'll miss out on a warranty with the gray market, but I don't know how the new WoW is currently (they just went through a change of ownership.)

Keep in mind that some MSRPs are extremely fanciful prices you'll never pay and the profit margin for an authorized dealer can be very high-- giving the AD negotiating room, but if they have to dump a watch on to the gray market for just over their cost, you'll see just how high the markup can sometimes be.

Welcome!
 

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A well known grey market dealer is Ashford. Most of the brands have their dealer warranty, not the original brand warranty. However! Interestingly in their shop Rado has the brand warranty and I think Zenith as well!

Bought this beauty for around $1000 at black friday 2 years ago at Ashford. Incredibly nicely made for the price:

 

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Oh geez, I wasn't aware that such watches would be grey market! I'm familiar with that about cameras but didn't even consider it for such places. So that leads to another question, how does one know if a watch is being sold grey market or not?
 

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Easiest way is to go to the brand’s website and search for an authorized retailer. Anywhere else will be grey. It makes a lot of sense with many brands to buy from these grey dealers because the cost savings is so high, I’ve done it numerous times and never been burned (knock on wood)
 

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I got burned once. I brought an Omega Seamaster from a big grey market seller back in 2005 that turned out to be a fake. I posted my experience on TZ, and a few months later, I received a letter from their lawyer threatening to sue and demanding that I delete my post.

I’ll only consider buying from the grey market, IF the seller can provide the warranty card. In my experience, I’ve received just as good if not better deals at local AD’s, where I have an established relationship with, so there’s no reason for me to go grey.
 

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A well known grey market dealer is Ashford. Most of the brands have their dealer warranty, not the original brand warranty. However! Interestingly in their shop Rado has the brand warranty and I think Zenith as well!

Bought this beauty for around $1000 at black friday 2 years ago at Ashford. Incredibly nicely made for the price:

Nice watch and cool shirt too, by the way!


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This is definitely not a black and white yes/no answer. Always do research on the company that you’re buying from before making a purchase to be sure that they’re legit. Often times the answer is yes, but you can get burned if you’re not careful.
 

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Nice watch and cool shirt too, by the way!


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Thanks. Shirt was made to measure, a perk of living in Hong Kong in that this bespoke service is affordable.
And, the cufflinks are actually Rado as well and match the watch well. With black ceramic inlay like the rado bezel and center links.
 

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Thanks. Shirt was made to measure, a perk of living in Hong Kong in that this bespoke service is affordable.
And, the cufflinks are actually Rado as well and match the watch well. With black ceramic inlay like the rado bezel and center links.
We apparently have the same initials as well. Sent you a message.

The cuff links do look very nice and compliment the watch and shirt perfectly. But what can I say...us TA’s have exquisite taste.




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Are watches from online shops that are "discounted" legit?

We apparently have the same initials as well. Sent you a message.

The cuff links do look very nice and compliment the watch and shirt perfectly. But what can I say...us TA’s have exquisite taste.




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Same shirt with another Rado from Ashford - the 50th anniversary Diastar edition, a lovely compact watch that actually came with the splendid cufflinks in the photo:



This Rado True was yet another black friday deal at Ashford. Was $480 or so for a superbly finished all ceramic avant garde dressed watch - and an automatic as well. No wonder I am not interested in Steinharts anymore. But this one came without cufflinks.



Finally, a Diastar XXL from Ashford as well, for $400 or so. Nicely made universal watch with faceted crystal.

 

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Gray market dealers will vary. Ashford and Jomashop are two of the bigger ones. I've purchased from both with zero problems (and as mentioned above, Ashford actually is an AD for a few brands).

One thing to consider buying gray market is that you should pretty much forget any service options through them. Yes, they will advertise a "warranty", usually performed by a third party. Results of using those warranties are (shall we say) mixed at best. In my mind, I buy gray market when the savings will pay for one service at a competent watchmaker, if needed. Usually, given the absurd prices charged by many ADs, it's not hard to save that much via gray market. And I've yet to have a watch need service within the typical manufacturer's warranty period, so I'm way ahead on that count.

If/when you buy gray market, give it a good inspection and let it run a couple of days before removing any packaging or using it in any way. That way, if something is wrong, you can just do a return/refund. Much easier than trying to deal with them later.

And finally, the larger gray market dealers do not sell fake watches. If they did, they wouldn't be in business long. Best thing to do is ask around here for experiences. Good luck!
 

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If a dealer is an AD they will be listed on the manufacturers web site and if not it’s a fair bet that they are grey. If you follow the forums for a bit you’ll soon get an idea who the big players are when it comes to respected grey dealers and if you are still not sure you can always ask here.
 

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One thing to consider buying gray market is that you should pretty much forget any service options through them. Yes, they will advertise a "warranty", usually performed by a third party. Results of using those warranties are (shall we say) mixed at best. In my mind, I buy gray market when the savings will pay for one service at a competent watchmaker, if needed. Usually, given the absurd prices charged by many ADs, it's not hard to save that much via gray market. And I've yet to have a watch need service within the typical manufacturer's warranty period, so I'm way ahead on that count.

If/when you buy gray market, give it a good inspection and let it run a couple of days before removing any packaging or using it in any way. That way, if something is wrong, you can just do a return/refund. Much easier than trying to deal with them later.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. This is exactly what’s in my head whenever I purchase from the Grey market. And i’ll add this; I’ve owned quite a few watches over the las 20 years, sold more than I’ve owned, but owned a lot nonetheless and I have never had a watch that needed servicing due to a failure for some sort. I understand that this is most likely a mix of luck and quality as some of the most expensive watches can fail in one way or another, but my point is that I have never really much worried about guarantees when it comes to watches.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Cool, thanks gents!
 

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Oh geez, I wasn't aware that such watches would be grey market! I'm familiar with that about cameras but didn't even consider it for such places. So that leads to another question, how does one know if a watch is being sold grey market or not?
There is a big difference between GM watches and GM camera gear, which is usually imported from another country. Not only do you not get a warranty with say a GM Nikon D850, but Nikon USA will not service it. You'd have to send it back to its country of origin and have it serviced there. GM watches aren't like that at all. An authorized Omega service center would be happy to service a GM watch, or you could have any competent watchmaker do it. What you don't get (usually) is a factory warranty. The "warranty" you do get instead from places like Joma aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Never ever send a watch back to a GM dealer for warranty work.

Also, hey Portland! If you haven't already been, check out Alex & Co. on 10th. Very friendly folks, and they usually have some pretty cool inventory.
 

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And finally, the larger gray market dealers do not sell fake watches. If they did, they wouldn't be in business long.
I would disagree. The grey reseller that I brought my fake Seamaster from is fairly large, maybe not as large as Jomashop, but close. And unfortunately they are still around.

The irony is that they swore to me that it was real. The dial seemed suspect from day 1, so I took it to a local AD with a watchmaker in-house for a closer inspection and they verified that it was fake. They even called Omega to verify the serial number and could not. I only got my money back because I threatened to dispute the charge with my credit card issuing back so they relented. Add to this, they stuck their lawyer on me over a forum post.

A friend of mine purchased a Tag Heuer from Authentic Watches, another shady grey market seller. Watch arrived with the serial number filed off the case. To the manufacturer, this might as well be a fake watch. Sure enough, the watch started to run badly. He dropped it off at an AD to be sent to Tag Heuer and they refused to service it.

Is saving a few $100's really worth all this trouble and risk? And once you've established a history of repeat business, after the first or second purchase, most AD's are willing to offer better deals and match prices, even beating grey market pricing.
 
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It’s so much easier to buy gray market now. You can even pull up watchuseek forum discussions on specific sellers. Buy it from a warrantied online seller or trusted seller on chrono24, get a local service center to open it up and voila! You’re done. But since you’re just getting into it, really depends on the model you’re looking to buy.
 
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When buying watches of any significant value I believe it is preferable by far to buy a new watch from an AD or a used watch from a well trusted seller. I would rather pay a bit more, or wait a bit longer than buy a watch from a grey. Patience is usually rewarded in the world of watches while impatience often leads to regrettable decisions.
 

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I would disagree. The grey reseller that I brought my fake Seamaster from is fairly large, maybe not as large as Jomashop, but close. And unfortunately they are still around.

The irony is that they swore to me that it was real. The dial seemed suspect from day 1, so I took it to a local AD with a watchmaker in-house for a closer inspection and they verified that it was fake. They even called Omega to verify the serial number and could not. I only got my money back because I threatened to dispute the charge with my credit card issuing back so they relented. Add to this, they stuck their lawyer on me over a forum post.

A friend of mine purchased a Tag Heuer from Authentic Watches, another shady grey market seller. Watch arrived with the serial number filed off the case. To the manufacturer, this might as well be a fake watch. Sure enough, the watch started to run badly. He dropped it off at an AD to be sent to Tag Heuer and they refused to service it.

Is saving a few $100's really worth all this trouble and risk? And once you've established a history of repeat business, after the first or second purchase, most AD's are willing to deal and match prices, even offer better pricing.
Edited to change my tone - If I'd received a fake watch from a gray market dealer, it would certainly shape my feelings about all gray market dealers. However, in over two dozen purchases from hundreds to a few thousand dollars, and from probably 5-10 or more different gray market dealers over the past 20 years, I've never had a bad experience. I do think that if places like Joma, or Ashford, of Creation, or wherever were selling fake watches, we'd have regular posts here detailing the experience. Yet we don't.

Same with filing off serial numbers. That was a common refrain back about 20 years ago as internet retailers were just springing up. Yet even back then, I can remember only 1-2 photographs detailing a watch received with serial numbers removed.

If either of those were happening with any regularity, you'd read about it here for sure. Just look at all the drive by posters listing their "beware of XXX dealer" posts because someone took 5 days to deliver instead of 2, or they wouldn't take a watch back after the poster wore it for a month. With those minor "issues" regularly being posted here, don't you think actual fraud (selling a fake watch) would get a little more attention?
 
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