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Thread: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

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  1. #1
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    Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    I am traveling in Europe for work (unrelated to watches) and am contemplating purchasing one Rolex here. It seems that when you deduct the VAT from the price, along with certain store's willingness to discount, it's an excellent opportunity.

    What should I know about before I make this decision?

    For example, what are the best discount rates you can find on brand new Rolex watches in the US from ADs? Will I have any issues with the warranty? Are their custom's duties to be concerned about? If, for example, the watch goes "undeclared," can I still get the necessary information/documentation to have the European VAT refunded to me? Etc.
    Last edited by TroyNVie; November 8th, 2011 at 16:37.

  2. #2
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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    There will be customs duty to pay, assuming your purchases exceed the exemption amount (highly likely if you're buying a Rolex). Nobody on earth, including the Customs officers, can figure out the tariff schedule, so you likely will have an interesting negotiation. When I bought an expensive watch in Paris a year ago, I spent enough time studying the tariff schedule that I was knew about how much it should be, and I had chapter and verse to quote if they wanted me to pay more.

    Assuming the watch has a stainless steel case, expect to pay a bit below 3% in Customs duty bringing it back to the US.
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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    Most of the time you would get to claim VAT as you exit the country, so Europe with its lower Euro currently is a good place to shop for watches. I know most manufacturers have world-wide warranty, so as long as you purchase it from an AD, having it honoured somewhere else in the world is not an issue.
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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    You will most likely get a better price in the U.S.

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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    yes I agree Rolex are Cheaper in the Us for example here in europe a Model X would cost EUR5K were as in the US a Model X will cost $5K so if you convert the 2 currency exchange ;) you get my point I am planning to come to the states to buy a IWC 3717 18K much cheaper than in Europe

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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    Purchase Price () 4,898
    Current FX Rate (/$) 1.38
    Purchase Price ($) 6,749
    FX Fee (X%) 202
    Import Duties (3%) 202
    Total 7,154

    By comparison, I believe the price for this watch is around $7,200 plus 7+% Tax.

  7. #7
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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    I'm not sure it represents a huge savings. You would have to calculate that for each specific model as you did in the example. Then it would be good to find out how much can be negotiated. You can avoid the sales tax by buying out of state but I'm not sure if that is legal.

    You did figure in a forex rate of 3%. Why? You could pay the watch with a credit card that gives you the daily rate at no additional charge. If you do change the money to have cash, yes, then you will lose some points. May even be more than 3.

    For example the 14060 has a list of USD6300 in the US. And of 4940 Euro in Europe. That equals 6835 USD as of today by median rate. So you could subtract about 16% for the VAT upon export. (Remember, if the VAT is 19% that means it's 19 on top of the price of the product itself, now you are counting down from a higher number to find the original price of the product itself, so that will be a discount of about 16% not 19%). So that would bring you to USD 5741.

    If you then declare the watch, you pay roughly 3% in duties. So add another 175. 5741+175=5916.

    Hence, supposing that you cannot negotiate. The savings will be about 6% or $400. Sure, if you're a deal hunter that is good money saved. But if you are in the market for a Rolex your time and effort might be more valuable than that. As you can tell it is a bit of trouble.

    So this will be worth it, if/when the dollar is worth more or if you can negotiate better in Europe than in the US. I'd think that in Europe on a steel Rolex unless it is the most sought-after model, you can let out 10% (IF you pay cash). But then you have to discount for forex. So say 7%. So you have 7% from negotiating and 6% from pricing arbitrage. OK, 13% altogether, IF you cannot get them down on price in the US.

    I'd say to find out what the negotiation margins are before pursuing the idea any further. Without negotiation it's just too close to be worth the trouble.

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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchalex View Post
    You did figure in a forex rate of 3%. Why? You could pay the watch with a credit card that gives you the daily rate at no additional charge.
    My two credit cards, unfortunately, both charge 3%. I do have an account at an international bank, which claims to be free to take foreign currency out abroad, however, it seems they just "hide" the cost in the FX rate (i.e., 1.44 instead of 1.38 spot rate online.)

    What I did not mention was the example above includes two assumptions: (1) the quoted 15% discount by the AD abroad, and (2) the implied lack of discount provided by US AD's (my limited experience there).

    In regards to the point about your time being worth more than the investment in time/analysis -- I agree in theory. If you compare my "billing rate", so to speak, it certainly doesn't make sense (~$300/hour). However, I get utility when from negotiating deals, saving money, and it helps me personally to rationalize such a purchase, one that most people would consider is crazy (non-WIS).
    Last edited by TroyNVie; November 10th, 2011 at 06:40.

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    If you are in the market for a R$#%X, the $2-300 swing should be less important than the buying experience. When you are passing the watch along to your son (grandson?) on his graduation from college, would you rather be able to say "I got this watch from a little boutique in the Rue Des Fleurs in Paris" or "I bought this watch at an Authorized Dealer in Cleveland" (or wherever). Go for the gusto.

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  10. #10
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    Re: Considering buying Rolex in Europe and bringing back to US - what should I know?

    I'm pretty sure watches are configured to run counterclockwise in Europe so that's something to consider as well...check that, I might be thinking of Australia.
    Sodiac likes this.

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