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If you wish to educate yourself on the U.S. watch repair industry's position on the Rolex parts distribution scheme, you owe it to yourself to review this link - in its entirety. These comments represent the most accurate and comprehensive single grouping of independent American watchmaking opinion on this topic.
Exhibit 1 - Public Comments

Do we have a credentialled Rolex representative who could respond?
 

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If you wish to educate yourself on the U.S. watch repair industry's position on the Rolex parts distribution scheme, you owe it to yourself to review this link - in its entirety. These comments represent the most accurate and comprehensive single grouping of independent American watchmaking opinion on this topic.
Exhibit 1 - Public Comments

Do we have a credentialled Rolex representative who could respond?
Thanks for posting this Pithy...reading down a few pages I see someone even sent a copy of the dreaded "letter from Rolex" into the DOJ and it's reprinted there:

"Dear Mr. XXXXXX,

After careful review of your spare-parts account, we are herewith informing you of our decision to discontinue our business relationship. Your Rolex spare parts account has been officially closed as of today's date.

For more information, you may refer to your agreement, which provides in the Policy Statement, under General Policies, 4th item, that "Both the parts account and Rolex are free, at any time and for any reason, to discontinue their business relationship, without cause and without prior notice."

In compliance with this agreement, we will not discuss the details of our decision.

Sincerely,
ROLEX WATCH SERVICE CORP.

/s/

Khaled Elrawi
Spare Parts Manager"

Oh yes, all about the quality of the work for sure - they won't even tell you why your account is dropped, and they can do it for any reason, without cause. Yep that sure is protecting the consumer....not.

For the watchmaker, so, much for investing tens of thousands in all that Rolex specific equipment...hope you can pay it all of fixing vintage Bulovas and similar watches, someone digs out of a drawer...

Cheers, Al
 

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Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Rolex is all about protecting it's own turf. They will bully the poor watch repair facilities and retail dealers ( soft price fixing anyone?) and raise their consumer prices constantly with little regard to the fact that they seldom actually make any improvements in the watches themselves. This is however their jealously guarded perogative and the business model has done them well. They produce an above average watch that has become the standard of most of the world! A household name!, A status symbol that nearly anybody can afford(if you really want to).

But they can't stop cheap fakes in convienence store selling for 10 bucks and homages from many manufacturers (I see more Seiko "Datejusts" than real Datejusts.).

Dealers and consumers can always speak with their wallets! But the millions and millions of latin Americans and asians who long for the day they can sport a Rolex on their wrists don't care one bit about parts. And maybe that is how it should be.

So go for it Rolex! But that breath you feel on your neck must be making you a bit nervous? Omega is gaining ground.
 

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Dealers and consumers can always speak with their wallets! But the millions and millions of latin Americans and asians who long for the day they can sport a Rolex on their wrists don't care one bit about parts. And maybe that is how it should be.
I am not at all sure about this statement. Unless they are horophiles of a like mind they will most likely be unaware of this situation.
 

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My opinion is that Rolex can do whatever they want. No such thing as "price fixing" a single brand. If people don't like the prices, they don't have to pay them. If retailers don't like the hoops they have to jump through, they don't have to sell them.

Just like Omega pulling out of ADs to sell only through their boutiques - if you don't like it, don't buy. I've been treated poorly by my local Omega boutique, so I'm not buying.
 

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You know, I have given some thought about Rolex's practices in relation to the Sherman Act and various AT caselaw, and I really am not certain whether Rolex's practices could not withstand antitrust scrutiny. I started doing some research on the issue, but did not get all too far. I was actually thinking about writing about the SWATCH groups' restrictions, but due to the difficulty of obtaining a lot of the documents, I was unable to really take it very far.

But this issue with Rolex seems to be questionable vis-a-vis the Sherman Act. I do not think it is a price fixing issue as much as a Kodak issue--which, simply stated, deals with using anticompetitive means in a derivative market (i.e., the watch repair market). I would need to bone up on my AT law to really make a cogent argument, so I am kind of just spitballing here.
 

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But with Rolex, it's a major 'bread and butter' brand for an AD. Many wound gladly sell their first and second
born to have 5 cases of Rolex in their store.
My opinion is that Rolex can do whatever they want. No such thing as "price fixing" a single brand. If people don't like the prices, they don't have to pay them. If retailers don't like the hoops they have to jump through, they don't have to sell them.

Just like Omega pulling out of ADs to sell only through their boutiques - if you don't like it, don't buy. I've been treated poorly by my local Omega boutique, so I'm not buying.
 

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My opinion is that Rolex can do whatever they want. No such thing as "price fixing" a single brand. If people don't like the prices, they don't have to pay them. If retailers don't like the hoops they have to jump through, they don't have to sell them.

Just like Omega pulling out of ADs to sell only through their boutiques - if you don't like it, don't buy. I've been treated poorly by my local Omega boutique, so I'm not buying.
I agree. If enough Rolex owners are genuinely harmed by the restrictions Rolex places on access to their parts, then demand will drop and they'll be forced to change their policy. People don't have to own Rolexes, though. They are free to chose from any number of brands or not to wear a watch at all. All of the comments in the link above are from watchmakers who are stating that consumers will be harmed, but I didn't see any from consumers. The consumers will vote with their dollars.
 

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The thing is, I just don't think virtually ANY Rolex buyer will know this or research this going in, so it won't have any impact on them for a long time. They won't have it serviced, so it'll only go in when it has a problem. They'll head back to the dealer, dealer will say it must be sent in to Rolex, and they're not going to know any other brand is different. I strongly think that, to the degree that this affects the Rolex consumer, the consumer will never become aware of it and thus it will never have any noteworthy impact on their marketplace.

Still a lame thing to do, especially for watchmakers.
 

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Makes Omega look a lot more appealing to me now.
 

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My opinion is that Rolex can do whatever they want. No such thing as "price fixing" a single brand.
Of course there is!

Retailers are supposed to be independent entities in competition with each other, striving to attract customer to their store rather than the one up the road by offering a better level of service and more attractive prices. Any retail price maintenance scheme designed to subvert such a free retail market is price fixing.

All in all Rolex's distribution and servicing policies show just what a joke the notion of 'free market capitalism' really is. Sure, companies want to operate in a free market when it comes to their own freedom to fire and hire at will and so forth. However, on all other accounts they want to operate in a market that is anything but free. Selective distribution agreements, retail price maintenance that sees their products being withdrawn from dealers who offer discounts, the refusal to supply parts to independent repairers and so forth. (I say make those parts freely available and let 'the market' decide which repairers offer the best value and quality of work.)

Of course, it is the same picture on the wider scale, with 'tough love' and the rule of 'the market' when it comes to the individual and their rights in the workplace. Meanwhile, big business relies on 'corporate welfare' in the form of subsidies and public bailouts if things go wrong, with the banks being the most obvious example of this: a classic example of 'privatised profits and socialised losses'. In fact, the USA as a whole is probably the most 'socialist' country in the world; only it is 'socialism for the rich', as Michael Harrington put it many years ago. ;-)

Anyhow, did the courts side with Big Business and annul the Rolex anti-trust agreement, or is it still in force?
 

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Of course there is!

Retailers are supposed to be independent entities in competition with each other, striving to attract customer to their store rather than the one up the road by offering a better level of service and more attractive prices. Any retail price maintenance scheme designed to subvert such a free retail market is price fixing.
When's the last time you bought a TV? Pick a model, and go to the major retailers and compare prices. They're all the exact same price. Why? Minimum pricing guidelines called "Unilateral Pricing Policy." What makes that any different?
 

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What about the preexisting Rolex owners? It's never fair to change the rules in the middle of the game!
or these watchmakers:

For the watchmaker, so, much for investing tens of thousands in all that Rolex specific equipment...hope you can pay it all of fixing vintage Bulovas and similar watches, someone digs out of a drawer...
 
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What about the preexisting Rolex owners? It's never fair to change the rules in the middle of the game!
Sure it is, and it happens all the time. If someone buys an Audi, Audi has no obligation to that customer to ensure that Franz down at EuroTech Automotive will be servicing Audis at a certain price or at all three years from now. If someone buys an appliance, same thing. Plus, there is not guarantee, implied or otherwise, that parts for anything purchased today will still be available X years from now.
 

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The thing is, I just don't think virtually ANY Rolex buyer will know this or research this going in, so it won't have any impact on them for a long time. They won't have it serviced, so it'll only go in when it has a problem. They'll head back to the dealer, dealer will say it must be sent in to Rolex, and they're not going to know any other brand is different. I strongly think that, to the degree that this affects the Rolex consumer, the consumer will never become aware of it and thus it will never have any noteworthy impact on their marketplace.

Still a lame thing to do, especially for watchmakers.
There is a popular Rolex watch forum where this has been discussed multiple times and the response has been 'meh.' This will not have a noteworthy impact in the marketplace because Rolex customers won't care, and Rolex knows it. No different than ALS, AP, Breguet. Consumers of luxury goods are accepting of restrictions and limitations and high cost of ownership.

I don't believe ADs are at risk of losing access to parts as long as they have a certified watchmaker.
 
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