Why I'll Never Go Grey (Market) Again

 By: Zeitstuck : April 7th, 2021-13:38

I bought a Lange over one year ago from Wempe. At that time I was given a nice second OEM replacement strap for my watch. I realized a few days ago that they gave me the wrong size (my watch is 20 mm lug to lug and they gave me a 19 mm strap). I notified them and they apologized for the mix up and sent me a replacement strap immediately. 

If I did business with a grey market dealer, such as jomashop, instead of an AD and I contacted them a year later when I realized they screwed some thing up, I’m sure that they would do nothing about it. They would tell me that it was my fault for not notifying them at the time of the mix up a year ago and would argue that I could be deceiving them. 

I'd rather deal with an AD, and all the pros and cons that come with that, then ever do business with a grey dealer. Being treated like a decent human being goes a long way.

How is that even comparable?

 By: CastorKrieg : April 7th, 2021-13:43
Excuse me, but I don’t see why grey dealer would be at fault here? You are supposed to check what you get and if you don’t it’s on you, especially after a whole year. We might not agree with grey dealers markup on popular pieces but for thousand others they facilitate the transfer and allow many people to acquire beautiful mechanical watches.

To finish on your post I can as well comment that Wempe cheapened out when they gave you an OEM strap and not an extra Lange one.

OEM means Lange

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:31
And 1mm difference is easy to miss unless you actually go to swap straps. The point of my post was that an AD has great, arguably better, customer service. The fact that they took care of it shows they are understanding

But you don't have a grey to compare since you didn't do the business with them

 By: CastorKrieg : April 8th, 2021-09:10
No message body

I did do business with them in the past, hence the "Again"

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-09:11
Different situation, but mentioned it in detail below replying to LX


 By: PalmSprings : April 7th, 2021-13:49
The grey dealer wouldn't give you a second strap to begin with so it would never happen.

You're reaching.

Ahh, how times have changed!

 By: CR : April 7th, 2021-20:31
20 years ago, I bought my first Lange 1 from a grey dealer. It was shipped from Europe to the US. It arrived with (a) Customs duties pre-paid by the seller/shipper, (b) two beautiful custom short straps to fit my wrist (both stamped with the official Lange stamp because they were ordered from Lange's strap maker), and (c) a box of chocolates (in addition to more chocolates that arrived for the holidays several months later). I still keep the watch on that same strap, and the second short strap is untouched. For about 15 minutes -- a beautiful, brief period -- I thought this was normal/typical!

I know they wouldn't

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:23
My point was just that an AD, in my experience, has a tendency to offer better customer service.


 By: PalmSprings : April 8th, 2021-10:10
How is this even comparable? Plus you are making an assumption which could be wrong as well, because you don't know how others would react.
You had a good experience with your AD, but there are also people who haven't had a good experience with the same AD. Same with grey dealers. Some good, some bad.
I went on vacation a couple of years ago and picked up a dive watch from a grey dealer, relatively new and in very good condition. It fogged up so I contacted him and he told me to bring it in when I was back in the city at the end of my trip. Everything had to be done within less than 1 day because my flight was the next, I think it was in the weekend as well.
So I dropped the watch off late at night on Friday, at his private residence and I received it back the next day. All checked out, I think even the rubber/gasket replaced, pressure tested and it was solved. Free of charge, even delivered by him at my hotel. Who can top that kind of service?

What is the assumption I am making?

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-10:51
I have had a great experience with an AD and a terrible experience with a grey dealer (which I've detailed now a few times in this thread). Granted I didn't explain the bad grey market experience in my OP, but the title says "Again". This is an a posteriori, not an a priori, position. I have data to make a comparison. Also I'm not telling people what to do. Just sharing my experience and my plan. 

Great point.

 By: watch-er : April 9th, 2021-14:20
No comparison here.

Any dealer could give a strap right or wrong, new or used, authorized or gray market

 By: cazalea : April 7th, 2021-13:52
Choosing where to buy is more complex than you make it out to be


I am not teaching a class on where to buy watches from

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-11:00
I'm not over simplifying anything because I'm not presenting all the complex things that go into a watch purchase. That wasn't the objective of my OP.
My objective was to share my experience, the fact that being treated decently goes a long way for me, and share my personal plan. That's all. And it was the treatment that struck me, not getting a strap

“If” – So you actually didn’t!? How about creating experience instead of supposing? [nt]

 By: Pour le Mérite : April 7th, 2021-13:53

I've had bad experiences with a grey dealer, I'm not supposing.

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:32
Calm down

Completely agree. I had so many positive moments with wempe.

 By: Reuven Malter : April 7th, 2021-13:53
Why is everyone so negative... i dont get it.

They must all have stock in Joma!

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:34
Thanks for your input

Thats it 🤣

 By: Reuven Malter : April 8th, 2021-09:28
No message body

Wempe is my go-to AD

 By: Uncle Chico : April 22nd, 2021-07:17
I've used the local branch since the 90s and have dealt with the same master watchmaker every time. He's knowledgable, patient and trustworthy. I've even visited with family members and he's taken the time to show watches and explain the finer details knowing a purchase may be months away if at all. I cannot place a price on that.

Completely agree! I just whish they sell Omega, too 😉

 By: Reuven Malter : April 22nd, 2021-08:23
No message body

No other commentary on grey vs. AD, but you could buy 20 new straps with the savings. Not sure I can appreciate the calculus here.

 By: vitalsigns : April 7th, 2021-14:05
No message body

No, I couldn't

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:38
I was able to get my watch for below retail, similar to what it was going for on the secondary market. Took more time and effort than if I went grey market. But to me that is worth the added benefit of being treated decently

Most don't have that price opportunity so grey still is a viable option; and a replacement strap is de minimis compared to the price savings.

 By: vitalsigns : April 8th, 2021-09:14
I just don't see how your experience reflects poorly on the grey market. But of course, each of us chooses what we most prefer, so I could never quibble with your choice.

And I've had a bad experience with the grey market which turned me off.

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-09:30
My apologies, I should have included it in OP to make my position more clear. I'm going to copy/paste my response to LX from below:

"I guess the more nuanced point I should be making is Wempe NYC is much better than Jomashop.  To contrast my great experience with Wempe, Joma has treated me terribly. I purchased a speedmaster from them which required service after a few months (issue with the keyless works). As part of the service they changed my hesalite crystal. The new hesalite crystal was scratched on smudged on the underside. I didn't notice this immediately and when I did and asked them to remedy the issue they refused. They tried telling me the damage to the inside of the crystal (which cannot be accessed except by removing the case back and movement) was my fault and that I was trying to deceive them. Contrasting that with my story in OP about Wempe, it's a no brainer which I will continue to do business with."

But everyone's situation is different. And things may be different depending on which watch we are talking about. 

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Fair enough. No question that Wempe, which holds one of the strongest reputations, is going to be much better than Jomaship, which is hit-or-miss as far as I understand.

 By: vitalsigns : April 8th, 2021-09:46
I have bought grey and second-hand before, but knowing that I would only ever get a factory service if needed--never through the grey or second-hand dealer. All that goes into the price calculus from my perspective. You are certainly not alone in preferring all that ADs have to offer.
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I assume a gray market watch will need a full service and consider that in my cost calculus.

 By: Spangles - Dr. Tabby : April 7th, 2021-14:16
A few times, the watch has needed the service. But since I planned for that (and I have a great independent watchmaker), it's no problem other than service time.
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I guess that I have been fortunate, any dealings that I have had with apres market vendors has been flawless...

 By: nacelle : April 7th, 2021-17:04
On occasion, I have been treated worse by AD's...
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 By: Chromatic Fugue : April 7th, 2021-19:42
I’ve had only good experiences with the 2d hand dealers I’ve worked with, which I chose because they had brick-and-mortar stores and great reviews. And I’ve been treated badly by a boutique of a major watch brand. So choose your seller wisely, but don’t prejudge a seller based on whether it specializes in new or preowned.
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I'm not prejudiced against pre-owned

 By: Zeitstuck : April 8th, 2021-08:57
I have a vintage pre-owned piece that I received from a lovely dealer in Florida. You can see my post below in response to LX on my more nuanced take
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It is about excellence in customer service, not whether you buy from an AD or grey market dealer.

 By: LX (Alex) : April 7th, 2021-22:18
I also had a terrible experience at an IWC AD in Zurich. When changing a strap they badly scratched one of the lugs and when I complained they said that I had already brought the watch in this condition and were accusing me of wanting to extract a free repair from them for a damage that I had done. They also told me that I was coming with a second-hand watch into their shop, even though I was the first owner and the watch still had more than one year of warranty left. Luckily, at the IWC HQ in Schaffhausen they believed my story and repaired the watch directly there free of charge.

On the other hand, I have had an excellent experience with a grey market dealer. When I traveled from Zurich to Basel to buy a watch from one such dealer, they offered me to pick me up by car from the train station to get me to their shop. In the shop itself, the grey market dealer took time to explain to me how the grey market works.

The bottom line here is: it is not about whether the seller is an AD or not, it is about commitment to excellence in customer service.
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