We are big fans of the Tissot Powermatic 80 range at NWC for one simple reason; This is a bargain priced Swiss watch. 80 hours of power reserve, sapphire crystal, beautiful blue dial and a steel case, all for around £550.
Or can you get it cheaper? Yes, we spotted this baby on sale at Fraser Hart’s wesbite at £450, with a Milanese mesh bracelet. There’s free delivery on that too.
Francis Gaye jewellers had the same model on offer at £459, while Owen and Robinson emerged the winner at just £448. OK it’s just two quid cheaper, but that buys a Bench watch from a car boot sale in St Helens…
Watch retailing face-to-face has taken a hammering over the last year thanks to Covid and the hysterical over-reaction by western governments.
Meanwhile Zadok over in Houston Texas have been buolding the five star Hilton hotel of watches, a Selfridges experience where Barnum style showmanshp combines with luxury brands. How many? 60 of `em, including all the big Swiss players. Yep, this is destination watch retailing and we say go Texas!
Zadok is holding events at their store too and this is another way to bring in wealthy people, ready to spend money. Earlier in April Zadock showcased the Totem electric car on-site and the thought occurs to us that many watch brands have crossover with aviation, yachting, designer handbags like LVMH brands for example, sunglasses etc.
This is an area where UK jewellers are kinda slow to be blunt, because too many of them rely on the watch brands being the draw in thmselves. Which with Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Hublot, TAG and other well known, established brands is true.
But that isn’t the case with Breguet, Vacheron, Lange & Sohne, Arnold & Son or other prestige names that lack general awareness in the UK. You can buy all the online ad space you like, but until you put your watches in front of an affluent audience and they can see and feel them, you won’t win lifetime fans of your brand.
Now that Covid restrictions are lifting Zadok’s approach shows that if you build a luxury resort of watches, they will come. Over to you Baselworld, this is your chance to put watch retailing and showmanship together. Make sure you build a 30 storey luxury hotel on top of the watch exhibition space, with private elevators.
Would you pay £15,000 for a mint Rolex Submariner Batman to a complete stranger on eBay? No, of course you wouldn’t, even if you were Carrie Symonds and some clown had given you 30K to spend on any fripperies that caught your eye.
But there is a solution to the problem of transferring lots of cash for Swiss watches, and eBay have been busy perfecting it. Here’s the word;
eBay, one of the largest luxury watch marketplaces in the world, today announces the addition of escrow to marketplace payment offerings for luxury watches. This additional payment option allows buyers and sellers an added convenience via trusted third party Escrow.com, holding funds securely until the transaction is complete providing an additional level of protection. Benefiting both parties in the transaction process, escrow is now available to those buying and selling luxury watches over $10,000, expanding the payment options available to luxury watch enthusiasts to foster an even more seamless experience.
“We are changing the way people buy and sell luxury items on eBay,” said Tirath Kamdar, General Manager of Luxury at eBay. “When it comes to high value watches and other significant purchases, consumers expect additional assurances. eBay is committed to providing the best experience, from start to finish, and our new offerings will continue to deliver on that promise.”
There’s been a tremendous surge in enthusiasm for high value collectibles as consumers expand their investment opportunities. eBay is constantly introducing platform and product enhancements to improve the buying and selling experience, creating a seamless process for transactions on premiere brands like Patek Phillippe, Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet, and Hublot, which were some of the most coveted luxury watches in 2020. After launching its Authenticity Guarantee service in September 2020, more than 7,000 luxury watches priced at $10K+ were sold on eBay. Now, with the introduction of escrow, eBay continues to make shopping and selling high value items like collectible timepieces convenient and simplified.
“As a long-time leader in the luxury watch space with more than 1.2M daily live listings, eBay offers an unmatched selection of timepieces — from rare, vintage watches to new styles from top brands like Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer and more,” said Charis Márquez, Vice President of Fashion, eBay. “We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in interest for luxury watches this past year, with more than 22 million site searches for Cartier, and more than 15 million for Tag Heuer. Escrow joins Authenticity Guarantee as eBay’s response to that growing appetite.”
How It Works
Enhancing the secure payment suite by partnering with Escrow.com, the most licensed online escrow company, this multi-step enhancement offers the eBay community of buyers and sellers another way to securely transact on watches $10,000 or more, with no processing fees. The streamlined service requires minimal steps to ensure a swift transaction process:
Getting Started: At checkout, if a shopper decides to purchase a qualifying luxury watch using escrow, they will be directed from eBay to Escrow.com’s website where they will receive step-by-step instructions for creating an account. Both buyers and sellers must have an account in order to send and receive payments; it is a one-time process and all data is privately shared between Escrow and the buyer or seller.
Transaction Process: The buyer funds an account via wire transfer or ACH electronic check, which is managed by Escrow.com as an intermediary. Funds are released by the third party to the seller once the item is received by the buyer in the condition described in the listing and terms of the transaction agreement are met to the satisfaction of both parties. They are protected against fraudulent customers through verification checks and payment being held by a third party in case of a return allowing sellers 5 days to inspect the merchandise and release funds to customers if the merchandise matches the original condition.
Progress Updates: Buyers and sellers can check the status of their transactions where payment is made via Escrow.com by visiting the “My eBay” drop down under “Order Details,” or via Escrow.com where they can access a transaction summary page and view the progress of all active Escrow.com transactions.
Item Inspection and Returns: After receiving their watch from the authenticator, the buyer will have up to seven days to inspect and examine the watch before accepting the item. Once accepted, or if the seven-day inspection period has passed, returns will not be available. In the event of a return, the watch is shipped back to the third party for verification and funds are then released to the customer if the merchandise matches the original condition.
Nearly eighty thousand new, pre-owned and vintage watches are marked with the Authenticity Guarantee badge on eBay.com, comprising an inventory of fine watches from brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Audemars Piguet and more. Each watch sold for $2,000 or more, marked with the Authenticity Guarantee badge on the listing, undergoes a rigorous third party inspection by Stoll & Co., the leading provider of watch repair services, ensuring the timepieces are authentic and as described. Escrow joins Authenticity Guarantee as another way eBay is evolving the buying and selling experience for eBay’s community of luxury watch enthusiasts.
We thought it would be a good time to have a look on Amazon for the best deals on gents automatic watches. Not that we aren’t fans of old school watch shops, especially those that sell pre-loved watches. But there is no denying that for new watches, it is hard to beat the low overhead, store-your-stock-in-a-warehouse approach, then ship it from Bratislava when the sale goes through online.
OK this is an old Seiko 5 model, nothing special in terms of movement and you have to shake it, it does not wind up like the later Seiko 5 or Presage models. But for £99 if you sign up for a Mastercard deal, or £119 without the credit card, you cannot grumble. It’s got a guarantee, the box, paperwork and you can always sell it for about £70-£80 on eBay a few years down the line if you liek to churn your collection. Yep, we did say churn it like butter.
ROTARY SUPER 7
Not as cool as a Party Seven giant can of ale from the 1970s of course, but the Rotary Super 7 has that Rolex Submariner Pepsi look nailed down, and it claims to be waterproof down to 1000 feet, yes 300 metres. That a 300m dive watch for under £230. Great daubings of superlume on the dial too. Hard to fault on tech specs, this steel case, sapphire crystal watch is NOT made in Switzerland, but arguably has a few Swiss level quality features for the money. On Amazon, supplied by Watchnation based in Chester, Cheshire.
ORIENT MAKO II
Yes, like the Seiko 5 this is another end of line watch, but the blue dial Orient has an elegant look, an ideal case diameter at 42mm and a 200m depth rating. So yes, swim or dive in it – it’s made by Seiko so it’ll cope. Steel case, steel bracelet, although you can get a NATO strip for an extra tenner on the Amazon deal we spotted. The Orient brand is NOT officially imported into the UK so many examples you see are from overseas sellers in Germany, USA, Singapore, HK etc. That means import duty and VAT on top, so paying £119.50 on Amazon solves that paperwork problem.
Yes, you could buy a convincing Rolex fake from somewhere in China for £400-£500, but frankly this Milgauss homage, or shall we say blatant copy, is just £55 and yours from Amazon delivered in a day or two. It has an automatic movement inside, plus see-thru caseback, so you can appreciate the rough casting finish on the rotor and the appalling bridgework. We say buy this as a gift for the bloke in the family that you don’t like, Uncle Nobhead basically. He’ll have it round to Cash Converters quicker than you can say `I’m too sexy for my TJ Hughes Shirt.’
That’s an automatic watch for £55 though, you cannot even buy a fashion quartz from Michael Coarse, sorry, Kors, for that money.
BULOVA MARINE STAR
Orange is nice to have in your collection, just for those sporty days, or a trip to the beach in summer when you want a watch that handles some seawater. The Bulova brand is owned by Citizen, so you are getting a reliable Miyota auto movement inside, plus a mineral crystal, 200m of depth rating and a big 45mm case width too. The white dial is quite rare on Bulova models, so it’s a left field choice. Good value for someone with a bigger wrist, especially at £269.
Here is an interesting round table discussion on blockchain tech and the benefits of blockchain passports for luxury watches. For the brands, it’s a definite win because they are getting lots of customer information and they know that the watch is genuine, and has a service history when it comes to PX time, plus they have a reason to make contact with the buyer to update that passport. For consumers, the benefit is that you can buy pre-owned watches with more confidence. But you lose some privacy, as brands know which models you own, what you can afford to spend, credit score and more details like your address for example.
If there is a data breach then blockchain passports for AP, Rolex or Vacheron would be extremely valuable records to trade on the dark web. History suggests that most databases are hackable, or rogue staff in an organisation may leak info under duress perhaps. That said, conventional paper records at watch repair shops, jewellers or authorised dealerships are arguably less secure than a blockchain passport – and we all seem happy with the status quo.
If you have time time spare there is the Origyn YouTube video discussion;
We thought that it was about time we rounded up some of the UK thefts, scams and wrsitwatch frauds that are going on in this crazy world, just so you can be on your guard.
CANVEY ISLAND FAKE ROLEX SELLER
Ellis Cross sold a fake Rolex and pocketed six grand from the fraud. He was rumbled but went off to NYC for a holiday on the proceeds after giving the buyer just £500 back from the 7K purchase price on eBay. But when a witness thought she would co-operate with the Police Cross started to use a bit of intimidation. The Canvey Echo reports that Cross will be sentenced in May. Never assume a Rolex on eBay is real, always assume it’s a replica until you see enough proof to convince you otherwise, especially if the seller is a bit reem from Essex.
FOOTBALLERS ARE TARGETS
The football lifestyle may look fabulous from the outside, but pro thieves are always trying to find out where highly paid professionals reside, so they can steal their watches or cars. Roma player Chris Smalling was recently targeted and had Rolex watches stolen at gunpoint, says the ESPN website. A gang of three men broke in a stole jewels and watches from Smalling and his wife. Not the sort of experience anyone would want to go through.
THEY WILL FOLLOW YOU FOR MILES
A gang of three blokes from London have been jailed after going after Rolex watches in a series of violent robberies.
Freddie Aguis, 29, and Shane Johnson, 30, were each given 16-year extended sentences and John Weaver, 35, was jailed for five-and-a-half years, reports the Eastern Daily Press. The trio admitted following a woman and robbing her in the street in a small town in Norfolk. They carried out a similar mission as they followed a man to Worcester to steal his Rolex. In that incident they forced their way into his home and attacked him with a baseball bat, talking a Rolex valued at 20 grand. The gang are pictured below.
There is a trend now for criminal gangs to have a portfolio of activities, so this could mean that your stolen Rolex is being traded for people, drugs, or even pets. A recent bust in South Wales discovered over 50 missing animals, Rolex watches, a horse box and some cannabis plants growing at one property, says the BBC.
This highlight that your Rolex is something that as an asset value amongst crimnal gangs, it isn’t something that will be pawned for cash, or sold on Gumtree. That’s because the cash price realised would be fairly low, so your serious gangsters will keep the stolen watches and sell – or ransom – kidnapped dogs online, which is a far better way of getting untraceable cash into their little Sopranos corporate machine.
Our top tips for a safer watch collecting life are;
Never post photos online with location services ON your smartphone.
Never meet would-be watch buyers in person unless you already know them
Invest in a small steel safe and have it bolted down to the floor.
If you – or a relative – requires carers or cleaners in your home, then lock the watches away securely and set up a small clock sized camera. Carers and house cleaners are notorious for stealing watches, cash or jewellery.
Never, ever, wear a nice watch or jewellery during a stay in hospital – NHS staff and managers will not investigate properly.
Timex automatics are pretty fair value, although the Miyota movement found inside them is very similar to the one found in an Accurist auto at half the price. But then again, we buy watches because they look the part and the M79 certainly does that. Seaparated at birth from a Rolex GMT Batman? Well, yeah, you could say that at a distance. So if you want a 40mm auto that looks retro but kinda modern too, theis fits the bill for £255 we reckon.
Blue/Black or Red/Black bezel options by the way. See-thru caseback, acrylic crystal, stainless steel case and bracelet – 50m resistance. Here is the word from Timex;
Our M79 Automatic is something entirely new, even though it might look familiar. Inspired by the 1970s Q Timex and elevated with a 21-jewel mechanical movement, this watch is a fresh interpretation of a much-loved Timex® icon. Powered by your movement, this automatic watch packs a 40-hour power reserve and can also be wound manually by using the crown. Featuring a unidirectional black and red bezel, black dial with luminous markings, a woven stainless-steel bracelet and exhibition case back, this modern watch captures the bold spirit of an era that changed everything.
Frederique Constant which is part of the Citizen empire, has an interesting new twist to the escapement idea; a silicone oscillator, rather than a balance wheel. Is it cool, or just not your thing? We think it’s great to see new tech being deployed within watchmaking because it attracts new customers, although it will be difficult to win over traditional watch collectors of course. Here’s the word from FC below;
Marking a world premiere, Frederique Constant presents a silicon oscillator beating at an unprecedented pace of 288,000 vibrations per hour, or 40 Hz. Redefining the principles of mechanical watch regulation, the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture ticks ten times faster than most mechanical movements. Thanks to its innovative design and reduced size, this revolutionary high-frequency silicon oscillator fits inside a traditional movement configuration. The 40mm Slimline Monolithic Manufacture is the proud recipient of this groundbreaking oscillator, the first watch in the world to boast a 40Hz frequency combined with a price that reflects the brand’s commitment to accessible luxury.
The idea behind the Monolithic Oscillator was born 3 years ago during an encounter between Peter Stas, co-founder and former CEO of Frederique Constant, and Dr Nima Tolou, founder and CEO of Flexous, an independent innovative horology-oriented technology branch of YES!Delft specialising in compliant or flexible mechanisms.
Following their encounter, the Frederique Constant team commissioned Flexous with the production of a unique, flexible oscillating system. The technical mandates were clear: a size comparable to that of a traditional balance; the highest possible frequency; an 80-hour power reserve; and a cost-effective formula allowing the manufacture of significant quantities at a reasonable price.
A Revolution in Precision Timekeeping – The Monolithic Oscillator
With the Slimline Monolithic Manufacture, Frederique Constant replaces the 26 components of a standard assortment with a single component fitted with two regulation weights. Thanks to a new geometry of flexures and masses, the size of the oscillator (9.8mm diameter x 0.3mm thickness) was substantially reduced to match for the first time that of a conventional regulator. Another factor that kept the dimensions in check and create an ultrathin oscillator and to keep all functions in one thin silicon layer was the integration of the anchor system in the flexures.
The third innovation responds to the adjustment weights used to regulate the flexure oscillator (just like the system used in a traditional free-sprung balance), a feature that allows watchmakers to fine-tune the frequency with exceptional ease.
Documents have been filed in Chicago USA which could – in theory – see a full scale jury trial of senior Rolex dealership directors accused of racketeering. Yep, that old Capone era felony is still on the books! The case revolves around three former employees of CDP, an authorised Rolex dealership, who tried to blow the whistle on grey market Rolex sales, waiting lists and all the other stuff that is well known to Rolex buyers aorund the world. In short, it is a huge can of worms which could damage the Rolex reputation if aired in detail.
This is an extract from the court documents; “The heart of the Scheme was a conspiracy by the Defendants to illegally sell Rolex watches to foreign grey market resellers in order to enrich themselves. In order to further the Scheme, the Defendants conspired to violate numerous federal and state laws including but not limited to racketeering, money laundering, mail, wire, immigration, and credit card fraud, and Illinois sales tax evasion.”
To summarise the document, the employees complained about the grey sales situation, then refused to join in with the schemes, and were then fired. The plaintiffs then allege that a Chinese national was subsequently employed to organise grey market watch sales, and worked in the US without the correct immigration paperwork.
The problem for Rolex here, and to a lesser extent AP and Patek, who also enjoy the luxury of having demand for certain watches outstrip supply, is that it inevitably encourages dealers to consider the grey market. Everyone in the watch and jewellery business has favourite customers, usually high spending self-made men nad women, who appreciate personal service and a lack of waiting around when they want something new. It’s human nature; money talks.
But how much reputational damage could this case cause to Rolex by exposing the situation that EVERYONE in the watch industry knows about, but is not widely known amongst the general public. Mistakenly, many ordinary people believe thay can walk into a Rolex shop and buy a new Submariner or GMT 2 – just like that. Cash, card or finance and have it in their hand that day. To learn that dealers are involved in shipping watches around the world, via dubious middlemen and online brokers, who are selling on new watches that are briefly owned by flippers, is going to do lasting damage.
In short, once lost, trust is hard to recover.
CDP has been in the watch and jewellery business since 1837, so it will be hard for Rolex to pull the franchise. But if this nasty case goes to court, then they will have no other choice. How can any manufacturer back dealers who are doing business like this? You cannot, it is morally indefensible and that is why this case will never go to trial in our opinion. The best resolution will be an out of court settlement to the three ex-employees, plus the firing of the Chinese sales guy.
The sooner the better, for all concerned, not just CDP.
We took a look at the Cadmore online auction, which is fast approaching and has some interesting watches on offer.
A 2010 Panerai Luminor with box and papers is worth a look, especially if you can get it for about £2600-£3200, as it is in mint condition. A new one is about five grand, so with the auction fees on top a final cost of £3600 isn’t too bad. If you like pocket watches there are several on offer and the silver Kendal and Dent, with a hefty 48mm case size is a good buy if you can get it for under £60 – assuming it works. There is no description on the auction website, so we don’t know.
An 18ct gold Rolex Datejust is another one that could be worth a look, although the gold Rolex is a bit of a Del Boy vibe these days. Good condition judging by the photos. No box or paperwork though. Say £2700 all in? Yep that’s where we would be too.
There is also a very blingy diamond bezel Rolex Datejust, no box or papers, but very nice condition.
More at the Cadmore website here. Auction is taking place next Monday.