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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I visited a grey market watch seller& asked about getting a Patek Nautilus, AP RO & Rolex Sub No-Date & the supposed shortage of those pieces as well as their selling above MSRP.

I was informed that what's going on is that watch companies like his and non-watchmaker ADs call the watchmaker boutique & offer well above MSRP to buy the watches the boutique would, b/c of its relationship to the manufacturer, have to otherwise sell at MSRP.

As soon as he told me that, it became very clear what's going on: demand exceeds supply AT THE MSRP. Above MSRP, there is no shortage or waitlist, for that matter.

Thinking about the way retail businesses work, it became clear what allows people on the waitlist to get their watch: the retailer (brand boutique) doesn't/didn't that month have a buyer who offered to pay above MSRP, so they make the sale w/an individual instead of to a business.

Put another way, as long as there's a buyer who's okay w/spending more than you, you won't get one until such time as the boutique needs to put some icing on its monthly sales figures & inventory turnover rates.

If, however, you're willing to pay what the market will bear, you can have one in a week or so.
 

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As soon as he told me that, it became very clear what's going on: demand exceeds supply AT THE MSRP. Above MSRP, there is no shortage or waitlist, for that matter.

If, however, you're willing to pay what the market will bear, you can have one in a week or so.
The above is certainly true--so long as there are people willing and able to pay 2x-4x premiums, the dead hand of Adam Smith will acquiesce.

Thinking about the way retail businesses work, it became clear what allows people on the waitlist to get their watch: the retailer (brand boutique) doesn't/didn't that month have a buyer who offered to pay above MSRP, so they make the sale w/an individual instead of to a business.

Put another way, as long as there's a buyer who's okay w/spending more than you, you won't get one until such time as the boutique needs to put some icing on its monthly sales figures & inventory turnover rates.
I don't, however, believe the above is necessarily correct, at least with respect to ADs and ADs that also have boutiques. I know some folks who have established relationships with their ADs/boutiques, and they can get on a waiting list and (eventually) get a desired model at list price. But they have to be willing to wait for potentially a year, or years.

Personally, there's nothing I want so badly that I would wait years for it. Or pay exorbitant premiums. I've only ever paid above MSRP once, and it wasn't a multiple of MSRP. Not to mention that the watch is now selling for almost 4x MSRP. A moot point for me as I've no desire to ever sell it.
 

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Not sure OP if that’s how it works. You are saying the Boutiques are essentially selling to grey market so they can get a profit instead of selling at msrp? Don’t think so.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Not sure OP if that’s how it works. You are saying the Boutiques are essentially selling to grey market so they can get a profit instead of selling at msrp? Don’t think so.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Why wouldn't they do that? Selling those watches at MSRP is just giving the profit to the buyer. The dealer simply weighs the pros and cons between letting it go to a loyal repeat client versus getting an immediate profit off it. Some clients are worth more than others. Hence the waitlist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
As soon as he told me that, it became very clear what's going on: demand exceeds supply AT THE MSRP. Above MSRP, there is no shortage or waitlist, for that matter.

If, however, you're willing to pay what the market will bear, you can have one in a week or so.
The above is certainly true--so long as there are people willing and able to pay 2x-4x premiums, the dead hand of Adam Smith will acquiesce.

Thinking about the way retail businesses work, it became clear what allows people on the waitlist to get their watch: the retailer (brand boutique) doesn't/didn't that month have a buyer who offered to pay above MSRP, so they make the sale w/an individual instead of to a business.

Put another way, as long as there's a buyer who's okay w/spending more than you, you won't get one until such time as the boutique needs to put some icing on its monthly sales figures & inventory turnover rates.
I don't, however, believe the above is necessarily correct, at least with respect to ADs and ADs that also have boutiques. I know some folks who have established relationships with their ADs/boutiques, and they can get on a waiting list and (eventually) get a desired model at list price. But they have to be willing to wait for potentially a year, or years.

Personally, there's nothing I want so badly that I would wait years for it. Or pay exorbitant premiums. I've only ever paid above MSRP once, and it wasn't a multiple of MSRP. Not to mention that the watch is now selling for almost 4x MSRP. A moot point for me as I've no desire to ever sell it.


"I don't, however, believe the above is necessarily correct, at least with respect to ADs and ADs that also have boutiques. I know some folks who have established relationships with their ADs/boutiques, and they can get on a waiting list and (eventually) get a desired model at list price. But they have to be willing to wait for potentially a year, or years."
- MLCOR​

Right. They can get on the waiting list and wait a year or more, or they can buy from a grey market seller & have their watch in a reasonable period.

The information I shared came from the owner of a grey firm, and the owner knew I wasn't willing to buy the watches for which there is a shortage at list price, but no shortage at list-plus prices. But, hey, maybe he lied to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not sure OP if that’s how it works. You are saying the Boutiques are essentially selling to grey market so they can get a profit instead of selling at msrp? Don’t think so.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Why wouldn't they do that? Selling those watches at MSRP is just giving the profit to the buyer. The dealer simply weighs the pros and cons between letting it go to a loyal repeat client versus getting an immediate profit off it. Some clients are worth more than others. Hence the waitlist.
"Selling those watches at MSRP is just giving the profit to the buyer."

Yes, you can sorta think of it that way.
We are witnessing sellers exhibit monopolistic (yet not perfectly monopolistic) behavior &, in doing so, decreasing total consumer surplus & increasing total producer surplus.

https://www.khanacademy.org/economi...and-demnd/26/v/total-consumer-surplus-as-area

Unrelated:
When I decided I wanted a few new watches, I had no idea that I'd see marketing & econ's principles so deftly availed & illustrated. Just goes to show how well markets work when left alone.
 

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Well, I think it also depends upon how you define "boutique," or how the brands run their boutiques. I believe that at least for some brands, the boutiques are owned by the manufacturer, and therefore the boutique manager must sell at whatever price the manufacturer sets (i.e. MSRP). In that kind of boutique, there is no "resale" of the watch because there's no middle man--it's essentially a sale directly by the manufacturer, just through a local branch. I don't know if all boutiques (which I would define as a storefront that only sells one brand) work that way, but I do know that (for instance) AP and Lange boutiques are owned by AP and Lange, respectively.

Now certainly ADs will sell to grey dealers, if they think they can get away with it (some manufacturers are starting to crack down on this, although it's hard to stop). It's a moot point for AP now, since they've killed off all their ADs and only sell directly through their own boutiques. But Lange, for example, still has both their own boutiques and ADs, as does Omega.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not sure OP if that’s how it works. You are saying the Boutiques are essentially selling to grey market so they can get a profit instead of selling at msrp? Don’t think so.
What I'm saying is that ADs/boutiques are selling 1st to the buyer who offers the highest price, & absent a buyer offering to pay more than MSRP, they sell to whomever is next on their waiting list. Of late, the buyers offering the highest price have been grey market firms. I suppose, however, if an individual offered a high enough sum, they could get themselves expedited to the front or near-front of the line.....Because to sellers in the watch industry, it really is, 1st & foremost, "all about the Benjamins." That's why it's called "business."
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I think it also depends upon how you define "boutique," or how the brands run their boutiques. I believe that at least for some brands, the boutiques are owned by the manufacturer, and therefore the boutique manager must sell at whatever price the manufacturer sets (i.e. MSRP). In that kind of boutique, there is no "resale" of the watch because there's no middle man--it's essentially a sale directly by the manufacturer, just through a local branch. I don't know if all boutiques (which I would define as a storefront that only sells one brand) work that way, but I do know that (for instance) AP and Lange boutiques are owned by AP and Lange, respectively.

Now certainly ADs will sell to grey dealers, if they think they can get away with it (some manufacturers are starting to crack down on this, although it's hard to stop). It's a moot point for AP now, since they've killed off all their ADs and only sell directly through their own boutiques. But Lange, for example, still has both their own boutiques and ADs, as does Omega.
Your proposition can be tested.


Contact the Lange and AP boutiques to learn what watches have a year-plus waitlist and how long it is for each respective watch model (EG: AP RO 15202ST.OO.1240ST.01 or AP RO 15202BC.OO.1240BC.01, both of which are RO "Jumbos," but, from the standpoint of buying/ordering one, are completely different pieces for which may exist different demand and supply curves) for which they indicate one exists. Then contact some grey market sellers (Jomashop, Swiss Luxury (or something like that), Alan Furman, etc.) and ask if they can get you the same watch and ask how long it'll take them to deliver. (Note, the grey stores will almost certainly have to call you back b/c they won't know the answer until they call around to find out from whom/where they can procure the piece.)

The grey store owner w/whom I spoke explained a host of factors. For instance:
- A black Sub-No-Date will take longer to get than a Sub w/a date b/c ADs order more the of the latter than of the former. So for that watch, one has to add into the timeline the fact that demand, thus production, overall is simply lower for the no-date model. You won't get a discount on it (you're inelastically demanding a watch that's elastically supplied), and you may have to pay a premium, but you will get it in a reasonable time period.
- A Patek Nautilus, on the other hand, isn't in short supply, but there are so many folks willing to pay well over MSRP for it that if you are willing to pay only up to MSRP for it, you will wait a very long time. If you're willing, directly or indirectly, to participate in the "auction," you won't have to wait for a year or more.

The above two examples illustrate two of the several dynamics in play for certain watches. For other watches, however, market forces favor buyers instead of sellers, and for consumers (rather than collectors who "have to have" a certain watch model) that's a great thing as it means they can:
- As a class -> get more marginal benefit than they must actually pay for (assuming that, to some extent, higher prices correspond to existentially better watches);
- As individual buyers -> get more marginal benefit than the dollars they spend would otherwise buy.


"Existentially better" explained -> A watch that, on the whole, provides specific performance outcomes that are consistently measurably superior to those another watch provides is an existentially better watch. Obviously, a given watch may best another on one or another performance metric, and that metric may make for that watch being relatively better, rather than existentially better. That is to say, for a person making the buying decision, that one metric matters so much more than do all the others that that metric alone may make it the better choice for that given buyer, thus making the watch relatively better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Buy something else. Plenty of better options available immediately.
For most consumers, I suspect that is the correct (most self-interest serving) action.

For collectors, however, that may not be an option b/c they inelastically demand the watch that is subject (for the time being) to shortage at the MSRP price.
 
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