Watch Dealers = Used Car dealers except this one....

I like buying pre-owned watches (indeed, one has no other choice for some brands...) Over the years, I've noticed a parallel between watch dealers and used car dealers. They adhere to a few shared mantras:-

  1. They make their money when they buy. Stock bought cheap = stock sold at a good margin.
  2.  They don't spend anything they don't have to after purchase and before selling. Almost regardless of what the dealer says, the thing you bought, car or watch, will be in exactly the same condition it was when the dealer bought it in. 
  3.  Warranties are worthless.....in general, the things that will break are 'wear and tear' items, and as such not covered. Best case the dealer (watch, or car) will try to fix it themselves, with varied results.

The car pictured (not mine, a friends!!) is the exception to those rules. It was bought from HWM Aston Martin in England, and it is perfect.....not just good, or good for its age, but perfect...concours perfect. Their prep, attention to detail, mechanical rigour and care is off the charts, which probably explains why they are one of the few independently owned Aston Martin main dealers. 

So a question - who's the HWM of the UK's used watch dealer market? (good recommendations in the USA also very welcome).

·

you trust a used car salesman?

·

Not entirely, no.... 😀

·

I actually prefer this

Almost regardless of what the dealer says, the thing you bought, car or watch, will be in exactly the same condition it was when the dealer bought it in.

over guys that "service" the watches because this will mean they bring it back to "like new" condition. You can in most cases service a watch and get 2y of warranty for 500 to 1000 depending on the watch which is probably less than what the premium-dealer will charge you more for the serviced watch. That's a key difference in my opinion, servicing and diagnosing a car is a much larger issue potentially. 

Now financially, when you service the watch with a brand the brand's service centre takes a cut. When a dealer services a watch the dealer takes a cut (for their inconvenience and time) and the watchmaker gets his/her share as well so it can't really be that much cheaper to go that route. So even if they don't give the case an incompetent polish, I'd rather pay for it myself and have a proper 2y manufacturer warranty in most cases. 

I would only buy from dealers that a) don't stock crap in their store and Web shop and b) don't hide the fact that most their watches aren't serviced. 

·
MegaBob

I actually prefer this

Almost regardless of what the dealer says, the thing you bought, car or watch, will be in exactly the same condition it was when the dealer bought it in.

over guys that "service" the watches because this will mean they bring it back to "like new" condition. You can in most cases service a watch and get 2y of warranty for 500 to 1000 depending on the watch which is probably less than what the premium-dealer will charge you more for the serviced watch. That's a key difference in my opinion, servicing and diagnosing a car is a much larger issue potentially. 

Now financially, when you service the watch with a brand the brand's service centre takes a cut. When a dealer services a watch the dealer takes a cut (for their inconvenience and time) and the watchmaker gets his/her share as well so it can't really be that much cheaper to go that route. So even if they don't give the case an incompetent polish, I'd rather pay for it myself and have a proper 2y manufacturer warranty in most cases. 

I would only buy from dealers that a) don't stock crap in their store and Web shop and b) don't hide the fact that most their watches aren't serviced. 

It's a good point Bob - it can be advantageous to have 'zero-touch' at the dealer, but the converse is also true. Language like 'inspected' or ' verified' is common, but in practice, the caseback has never been off :D  

·
Archangel

It's a good point Bob - it can be advantageous to have 'zero-touch' at the dealer, but the converse is also true. Language like 'inspected' or ' verified' is common, but in practice, the caseback has never been off :D  

Yes, in most instances the case back hasn't been off, other than maybe to confirm authenticity of a Rolex etc.

I think inspected and verified should be interpreted as, "It only uses manufacturer correct parts and all functions work as they should, ie it's all legit and the watch runs. It also doesn't deviate by more than a minute per day if the watch is over 10y old". In my experience, although they use that sort of deceptive language which isn't cool but seems like an industry standard, dealers won't lie about it when "confronted", ie when asked about what type of work they have done to the watch as part of the inspection. If due to ignorance or dishonesty they give me a funny answer I pass, if they try to avoid answering questions directly I pass. But most don't and will say, something like "we had a look to confirm the movement is correct and runs as expected, we did not carry out a full service" (full service, that's the key word I think, for them at least).

For me it comes down to two things when buying used watches

  • Validate the dealer on a case by case basis by asking a lot of questions, don't trust them as there is a clear conflict of interest.
  • Buy an honest watch, carefully worn is much harder to fake then NOS, at a good price and get it in perfect condition yourself. If they had the work done for you make sure they have it verifiably documented.