What About “Grey Market” Watches?
Dealers could be selling new watches they are NOT AUTHORIZED to sell. It is important to know the risks and problems associated with buying these “grey market” watches.
It Is Important to Understand:
- What is a grey market watch
- How to identify a grey market watch
- The direct effect buying a grey market watch has on you
- The impact of the serial number being removed by the seller
What Is a Grey Market Watch?
These are genuine watches made by the luxury brands. Fine watches can be purchased in many places. When making the decision to buy a luxury watch, it is important to know the difference between an “authorized dealer” over the “grey market dealer,” and the impact the grey market has on price, warranty and the resale value of the watch purchased.
Makers of fine watches only sell them through authorized dealers and distributors. Luxury watches arrive at the authorized dealer directly from the factory where the watch was made. Each major brand carried by a dealer can come with agreement requirements for initial inventory and future inventory minimums up to USD $250,000 dollars. Occasionally these agreements cause smaller dealers who have made large purchases to be left with excess inventory. Sometimes they will sell this extra inventory to unauthorized dealers. This is just one way the grey market gets unauthorized inventory at wholesale prices. Then, grey market dealers sell these watches at higher discounts than those allowed by authorized dealers. Illegal? Well, in some ways, and this practice also violates the reseller agreement between the authorized dealer and manufacturer of the luxury watch.
Warranties Are Voided
In an effort to deter heavily-discounted grey market sales by unauthorized dealers, manufacturers rightfully refuse warranty service on these watches. Unfortunately, many customers are not informed that they are purchasing a grey market watch. Sometimes, they simply think they’re “getting a good deal.” Customers usually learn of the problem when the watch needs repair and warranty service is denied by an authorized repair center or the manufacturer of the watch.
What Signs Indicate a Grey Market Watch?
Grey market watches are not fakes or factory seconds. A grey market watch is an original watch produced by the manufacturer. The clear difference is they have been passed on to you—the consumer—through an unauthorized reseller. (Of course there are the occasional unethical grey market dealers also selling old stock, returns, or even refurbished watches as “new” merchandise.)
How to Spot a Grey Market Watch:
- You might see higher discounts on grey market watches, such as 30-40%, versus the maximum allowable discounts by authorized dealers of 20% off manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
- Missing manufacturer’s warranty card and/no authorized dealer stamp.
- Missing serial number. Grey market watches often have the external serial number removed. This is done to stop the manufacturers from tracing the authorized dealer who sells to the grey market.
The question becomes: Is saving an additional 10-20% worth the risk of warranty and resale problems you may face following the purchase of your luxury watch?