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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see many posts here about buying from Ashford, as they seem to always have good selection of NOS Zenith watches. I read it all before buying my Zenith from them and now want to post my buying experiences:

In November 2011 I saw a great deal on Zenith Elite HW. I bought several watches from Ashford before, although that was before 2007 when the current owner bought the Ashford name. Although I was curious how do they have so many watches that were discontinued years ago, I proceeded with the purchase. I received the watch promptly, but it had a spot under the glass. So Ashford paid for me to exchange it. The second watch seemed perfect at first, until I noticed that instead of Elite HW it says "Automatic" !!! The watch went back to Ashford again, and they did not have any explanation how they managed to sell a Frankenwatch. Well, that put me off from buying anything from Ashford for a while. Later I bough Zenith 1969 from them, and this time everything seemed to be fine. So last month I ordered Ladies Defy Chrono for my wife. The watch seemed to be in good shape, although it had no plastic stickers. The band was not comfortable so I ordered another band. When new band arrived I took off the original very carefully using a spring bar tool. That is when I discovered that inside lugs are all scratched up, and the spring bars do not match each other. One spring bar is clearly longer and is bent. It looks like someone changed the strap multiple times while jamming in a spring bar that is too long.

I contacted Ashford and their response was that it is out of their 30 day return policy. No matter that removing the watch band would have invalidated the return policy anyway. They also suggested that perhaps I was the one who scratched the lugs. I did not want to return the watch but I believe they should have paid to have it polished and inspected. All they say is I should talk to Zenith since it is under factory warranty. I highly doubt that factory put mismatched spring bars in while scratching the hell out of the lugs in the process.

Now the real question is what is the source of their watches? Based on them sending me a Frankenwatch before and now a watch that is all scratched up there is no way they are selling brand new watches. Ashford watches may look new, but they most likely are factory seconds, slightly damaged and refurbished. Also it is not clear who does the reconditioning, it is hard for me to believe that factory would put a wrong face on the watch or force a wrong spring bar in.

So buy from them at your own risk. And please don't ask why I gave them a second chance after the Elite HW incident, I dont know.
 

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I've had an issue with a Zenith purchased at Ashford as well. However, they replaced it very quickly and I was satisfied with their customer service. Several years later the watch is ticking along soundly. The origins of the watches may be a little iffy, but the prices are low and the service is more decent that other online retailers. That's the trade-off...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I am sure they replace a watch if you notice an issue right away. However in order to see scratched lugs I had to remove the strap, which invalidated the return policy.

The question is not a trade off between the GM or AD. The question is if these are really new watches as Ashford claims. I am attaching pictures of Elite HW watch they sent me. You be the judge if Zenith factory could have made a mistake of placing Atomatic face on the manual wind watch. Also note mismatched spring bars on Defy. One is clearly longer and is bent. Someone forced spring bar that is too big and scratched the lugs while doing it. Scratches are worse than they came out on the picture. Again, unlikely that the factory did that. I just don't believe these are just regular GM, just an unsold inventory. These watches seem to be some kind of refurbished/worked on watches.

As far as customer service goes, they told me since the strap was removed it is not returnable. And then suggested that it was I who scratched the watch.
 

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Hello, I too have, and will continue to, bought/buy from non-AD dealers. So what lesson, if any, can I gain from yeptx' post. I think this is it: the probability of being dissatisfied with a wrist watch purchase is directly proportional to the age of the watch. The Zenith in question is close to 20 years old. I know there is no excuse or reason for a supposedly NOS watch to have the damages described, but bad stuff seems to happen to a watch that someone has tried to sell for nearly 20 years. I'm surprised yeptx didn't mention how well the watch kept time after all these years. If it does that well, its is a win. heb
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
@Hessu. Yes usually there is no factory warranty for GM watches. However I think Ashford has some kind of deal with Zenith. The warranty card is stamped by Zenith itself, and Ashford is adamant that if one has a warranty issue they should contact Zenith directly. That is one reason I suspect that these watches are some kind of refurbished but not new items, somehow authorized by Zenith.

@heb. I dont think these watches are 20 year old. They both are post 2000 for sure. I think Defy is late 2000 and Elite HW mid 2000. Many dealers still have Defys. I saw a lot of them at Tag outlet in Las Vegas. Elite HW went back to Ashford, since I noticed the flaw right away. So not sure about the accuracy. I timed Defy using Breitling Colt super quartz and my phone. Breitling and phone was dead even and Defy was ahead by 2s after 24 hours, no complaints here. Very good accuracy actually considering it was sitting someplace for several years.

The lesson I learned is it is probably better to buy from an authorized dealer, used, if you want to safe money. That way you know it is used and all the flaws are disclosed. Mint condition used watch is cheaper also.
 

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So, besides the scratch on the inside of the lugs and the slight bend on the spring bar, the watch is great? I am not you, but if it were me, I would do spend a couple of minutes polishing out scratch and spend a couple of bucks on a new spring bar. To me this would be a more expedient solution than hassling to return an otherwise great watch.
 
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My experience buying grey market is mixed, but I have learned that when I do, which is not often, I receive the watch, don't take any stickers off, don't size or bend up the leather strap, don't wear the watch. I just inspect it thoroughly, and time the watch over 3-4 days and make sure all functions are working properly. Only then if everything is as it should be do I begin to wear it and remove any stickers or tags. This protects me should it have any issue in that time period and I need to return it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
3th3r. I thought that Ashford should pay to polish the scratches but they refused. The point I am making that in light of previous Elite HW Frankenwatch, I don't believe that the watch is new as advertised. They are selling it as a new watch straight from manufacturer and it is not. I am just trying to warn people that if they are thinking they are getting a new watch from Ashford it is likely not true. So look at their prices accordingly.

Mirabello1. That is exactly what I did. Main concern was if it runs well, which it did. I did not think I need to check spring bars.
 

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3th3r. I thought that Ashford should pay to polish the scratches but they refused. The point I am making that in light of previous Elite HW Frankenwatch, I don't believe that the watch is new as advertised. They are selling it as a new watch straight from manufacturer and it is not. I am just trying to warn people that if they are thinking they are getting a new watch from Ashford it is likely not true. So look at their prices accordingly.

Mirabello1. That is exactly what I did. Main concern was if it runs well, which it did. I did not think I need to check spring bars.
thats understandable, I do see where your coming from.
 

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There is no factory warrancy in grey market watch! When a watch goes out side from brands marketing chain, the warrancy stops. It is a bit like stolen property. No brand service gray market watches for guarantee.
This is false. Any manufacturer would be happy to service any watch of theirs, so long as the serial numbers aren't tampered with.

Equating a gray market watch to "stolen property" is absurd.

YEPTX, sorry to hear about your bad experience. My Ashford purchases in the distant past (over a decade ago) were as described, and I was quite pleased with the transaction.
 

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I suspect they had sold that piece once before and had it returned them within the grace period. The person who bought it probably tried clumsily to change the strap then returned it. Ashford most likely didn't know the lugs had been scratched.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, the lugs alone would not be a big deal, although they should have paid to refinish it. In light of the previous watch with the wrong face it is a big deal to me. It tells me the watch is not really new, but repaired, refinished, etc. and not by the factory. I am surprised everyone is commenting on lugs. How about Elite HW with "Automatic" face? What are your thoughts?

Also, Ashford from 10 years ago is not the same as the current business. Current owner bought the name in 2007.
 

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Hi Yeptx, a few months ago I also bought a Zenith from Ashford. The price was so low such that even if I was to factor in the cost of getting the watch fully serviced by myself, I would still be miles ahead of the price I would have had to pay at the one and only Zenith AD in Melbourne. After some time, my watch started becoming unable to tick through the date change - see here. After contacted several Watchuseek forum members for advice, the great Hartmut included, I've since sent the watch to LVMH for servicing, where it is currently.

There is no factory warrancy in grey market watch! When a watch goes out side from brands marketing chain, the warrancy stops. It is a bit like stolen property. No brand service gray market watches for guarantee.
Hessu - this is patently not true. I have sent my watch, purchased from Ashford, to LVMH for servicing, where it is currently being serviced for no charge. In fact, they recently contacted me and I will be picking it up next Wednesday. I can categorically confirm that, at least in my case, LVMH do honour international warranty cards. I expect to receive a servicing report detailing what has been done to the watch when I pick it up, and will get back to you.

In terms of my own experience purchasing with Ashford - they're out to get the sale which gives you a chance to talk down the price. Post sales though, they are slow and all they say is "send it to Zenith", which honestly, is fair enough given that you (should) have valid warranty. I'd rather have Zenith service it locally in Aus than have to send my watch back to the US for Ashford to look at it. Again, for me the price discount was sufficient to put up with potentially less than stellar service. Having said that, the level of services I've received at the one and only Zenith AD where I'm located hasn't been anything to brag about either...
 

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Koki988, if you read the thread carefully Yeptx already mentioned that Ashford do have a special deal with Zenith. I guess they are sort of factory outlet store for the brand. So they are special case at the gray market, or should be said they are not a gray dealer at all. I was speaking in generally about gray market watches, how the story goes. If you buy from a gray market dealer, the factory do not back the guarantee, the deal is only between you and the seller. I have heard resently of 2 cases where TAG Heuer and Swatch Group turned the guarantee down, when a watch was bought from Swedish internet gray dealer Scandinavian Luxoury Ab In the another case the customer had emailed the seller and told the watch is not running well. The answer without seeing the watch was "it needs an adjustment, but that is not under guarantee. Take it to you local shop for adjustment." Well that was not the case and SG gave the refusal, not under guarantee.
 

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Hi Hessu,

I think where you are getting caught up is that you are:
speaking in generally about gray market watches
whereas I am relating my specific experience in having purchased a Zenith watch also from Ashford, with the watch also have experienced time keeping issues.

Hessu - this is patently not true. I have sent my watch, purchased from Ashford, to LVMH for servicing, where it is currently being serviced for no charge. In fact, they recently contacted me and I will be picking it up next Wednesday. I can categorically confirm that, at least in my case, LVMH do honour international warranty cards.
No doubt you may be correct that Ashford has a special deal with Zenith to act as a factory outlet, I really don't know. What I do know is my experience shares several similarities with the OP, and hopefully it can help him decide as to whether he will deal with Ashford again in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
koki988, good to hear that the warranty works. As I mentioned customer service was adamant that the warranty is from Zenith. I also e-mailed Zenith and mentioned that I have an old style warranty card (no bubbles) and they replied back that in that case the watch has 3 year warranty. Zenith website states that the card should have movement number. Ashford card does not have one, only the model number. Does your card have the movement number?

Regardless of warranty I still think that these are refurbished watches, not brand new. Anyone care to guess how that HW watch got an Automatic face?
 
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