Gray Market?
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  1. #1
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    Gray Market?

    I like watches. I am not a collector, and by no means am I an expert. I came to this forum because I wanted opinions on a watch I was planning to buy, and I received excellent advice for which I am thankful.

    Among the advise I received were leads on where to find the watch I intend to buy at a cheaper price. I had never heard of gray market watches before, so I did some research. I am not sure what to think. Nevertheless, after reading the article below I wonder why a watch aficionado would risk buying a gray market watch, especially if the purchase is a high end watch? I get the discount thing, but are the potential risks and the alleged loss of prestige worth it?

    Black and Grey Market Watches Are TROUBLE with a Capital "T" | American Watchmakers - Clockmakers Institute

  2. #2
    Member Nokie's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    The good with grey market- Usually better prices and lots of vendors to choose from

    The bad with grey market- Most grey market vendors do not offer a factory warranty, (They offer their own in- house warranties), and most manufacturers do not honor non-dealer grey market warranties.

    Just depends on whether you want to save $ or have an authorized warranty.
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  3. #3
    Member Gunnar_917's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    It's Grey Market

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  5. #4
    Member drunken monkey's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    The grey market is not a single entity.
    Therefore there isn't a single answer that applies to all of the unauthorised sellers out there.

    One of my grey dealers is a broker of sorts who sources watches from his sources. His main efforts are not just to do with offering lower prices but more to do with watches that aren't readily available to specific markets or are otherwise hard to get through regular authorised channels.
    Well, that and finding specific out of production models.
    Uhrentraeger and drhr like this.


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  6. #5
    Member EnderW's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    I'm not sure as to what "loss of prestige" means, but with a reputable grey market dealer you are getting a real watch with a significant discount in exchange for OEM warranty (typically get grey mkt warranty - but if it's any good is a separate story) and you forgo on AD perks (like swag, coffee and the buying experience, plus AD commitment to work w you if there is an issue). The SNs are intact w every reputable GM dealer nowdays.

    SO yeah - there are risks. But you should be able to evaluate if risk is worth the savings. A large percentage of issues w watches (QC or movement issues) will be apparent on receipt or within first few days - so to a degree you do have some protection even w GM watches - if there is an issues you return or replace ASAP.
    Beyond that it's a question of math:
    10K watch at AD available at 15% off, but 20% off at GM. -> go with AD 100% since $500 is not worth it
    10K watch at AD available at 15% off, but 50% off at GM -> I'll likely go GM as $3,500 savings is significant and even if I have an issue, can still service w OEM even without warranty - a $1000 service cost would still leave you $2,500 net savings

    As far as resale value - I'd think it only matters if you are reselling within warranty period. Once older than 2 years - AD or GM watch will not have warranty so it's a moot point.

  7. #6
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    Re: Gray Market?

    I think I can speak for some people here who have bought grey market. And btw, this has been debated many times before in this forum...

    Anyway, I have bought 10 since I started reading stuff from this forum. I have encountered only 1 issue out of the 10 times. So that is 9/10, a 90% flawless rating. That 1 time that I had an issue, I received a full refund without a hassle. So really you can say that it is more like 100% satisfaction with me. You will ready bad stories because those are the ones that get published but there are 9 good stories for every single bad instance.

    What do you get through the AD? The 2 year warranty. Is it worth approx 50% more $? Probably not. Your watch will run flawlessly for many years and the warranty will have expired by then. It will cost you the same to service it if you have bought it from an AD or not. And BTW, grey markets do not remove serial numbers like the article states, at least not in the 2010s...

    To add to all of this, I sent 2 watches to the in house warranties and they were actually send to Switzerland based on the work receipt that I got. They just got regulated, I thought their +- was a little high, not really anything wrong with them.

    Just my two cents...
    drhr, Swans21, joepac and 1 others like this.

  8. #7
    Member little big feather's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    Understand...A Gray Market Dealer is a man who knows a Authorized Dealer.
    Many GM's are in fact AD's, who have to move X number of watches a year, or they
    will lose that watch brand,they also get the watches cheaper based upon volume.
    So, for reasons stated above they sell to, or are GM's on the down low.
    I know a GM who sells watches with AD signed and stamped papers. Many of these GM's
    have the paperwork and can/do send your watch in for factory service if you have a problem.
    They don't give you the paper work, because in all honesty, you might go blab to the Manufacturer
    on where and how you got the watch....So, many AD's are AD's out the front door and GM's out the back.
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    Re: Gray Market?

    Quote Originally Posted by EnderW View Post
    A large percentage of issues w watches (QC or movement issues) will be apparent on receipt or within first few days - so to a degree you do have some protection even w GM watches - if there is an issues you return or replace ASAP.
    Agree 100%. I've learned the hard way. I know it is exiting to receive a new watch but before taking the plastics, tags, etc. Just take a day to test it without wearing it. Fully wind the watch, set the time and test that it runs properly and the power reserve, functions and +- timing is good.

    Quote Originally Posted by EnderW View Post
    Beyond that it's a question of math:
    10K watch at AD available at 15% off, but 20% off at GM. -> go with AD 100% since $500 is not worth it
    10K watch at AD available at 15% off, but 50% off at GM -> I'll likely go GM as $3,500 savings is significant and even if I have an issue, can still service w OEM even without warranty - a $1000 service cost would still leave you $2,500 net savings
    If worst comes to worst, with 50% savings, you can even pay manufacturer service and still have savings. Well pointed out.

    Quote Originally Posted by EnderW View Post
    As far as resale value - I'd think it only matters if you are reselling within warranty period. Once older than 2 years - AD or GM watch will not have warranty so it's a moot point.
    Perfect, nothing more to add.
    EnderW likes this.

  10. #9
    Moderator at Large stuffler,mike's Avatar
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    Re: Gray Market?

    Recurring issue. Have you read the (almost) hundred threads here on WUS regarding GRAY vs. AD ?
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    Mike


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  11. #10
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    Re: Gray Market?

    With over 12,000 posts I assume you are a good person to ask...

    Of course saving 20%-30% is a good thing. On the good end there seems to be gray market sellers that simply buy from overstocked authorized dealers at wholesale, and then sell to customers at lower prices than the manufacturer will permit. However, there are reports of gray market sellers engaging in serial number tampering, pushing refurbished and returned merchandise as new, and not standing by their in-house warranties. How is one to identify a "good" gray market seller from a shady one?

    Example: One of the leads I received from people on this forum is Jomashop. On the surface they look good... and I'm not saying they're not... but when you look at their Yelp reviews it gets pretty ugly.

    A great feature of this forum would be to have a running sticky with a list of gray market sellers that do not engage in the shady side of that industry and provide good customer service.

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