I recently counseled readers to ask for a big discount on a new watch this week, before Big Brother’s banhammer came down. If you haven’t cut a deal by now, it’s too late. All the bricks and mortar watch dealers are either closed or closing. And now the good news . . .
If you aspire to own a box fresh wait list wonder – a Patek Philippe Nautilus or Aquanaut, Rolex Daytona or Submariner, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or whatever else you couldn’t get or maybe couldn’t afford – your time is almost at hand.
Almost, but not quite. Here’s my thinking for horolophiles on coronavirus watch.
First, follow my father’s advice: if you want to shoot ducks, go where the ducks are.
The big boys in the bricks and mortar watch world are not your best bet. Ben Bridge Jewelers, Jared and Watches of Switzerland are exactly the kind of well-established businesses banks love. Money lenders will supply them with inexpensive loans to cover their costs until business returns.
Big bricks and mortar watch dealers can hang onto their grail watches for many months. They’re not the place to go shopping for a Coronageddon deal.
Your Mom and Pop local jeweler/watch seller is your happy horological hunting ground. They face the same economic hardship – bills don’t stop just because income has. But they lack deep pockets and a big bank backstop. Equally, they’re human beings not corporate drones – they want pay their workers for as long as possible.
At some point, the Mom and Pops are going to want/need to turn grail watches into cash money. They’ll be ready, willing and able to sacrifice some if not all of their 20 to 50 percent margin for cold hard cash.
Assuming Coronageddon lockdown lasts at least four weeks (and then some) the question is when? The financial crisis of 2008 is our best guide for predicting the timing of the next great grail watch sell-off.
When Wall Street’s shit hit the fan, luxury watch sales tanked. Independent watch dealers bit their nails and twiddled their thumbs for three weeks. And then they starting picking up the ‘phone and sending emails to customers. They were desperate – yes desperate – to turn luxury timepieces into cash. Fast.
Understandably, many of their post-Crash customers weren’t in the mood to buy. Once-in-a-lifetime offers of big names – Royal Oak! Steel Daytona! – at previously unthinkable discounts liberated a chunk of their customers’ cash reserves.
Assuming the pattern repeats itself, three weeks from now – around April 7 – the sell-off will begin. [NB: the Coronavirus Watch will be monitoring the situation on your behalf.]
It’s best to wait until April before contacting a grail-heavy watch dealer. Before you make the call or reach out through an email or social media DM, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Target a local Mom and Pop dealer – If you’re an existing customer, excellent. If you’re not, go local first, mentioning that you’re the kind of guy who favors his local watch dealer. The dealer is more likely to offer you a significant discount if he or she thinks it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (If they don’t answer the phone, reach out through email or social media DM.)
Know what you want – Check the dealer’s website to make sure they’re likely to have the specific grail watch you seek. If there are a couple of models you’d be happy to buy at a steep discount, even better.
Have the money ready – Chances are you’re not going to be schlepping cash around town anytime soon. Don’t forget to factor in the transfer payment fee. If you’re relying on the dealer to send the watch through the mail, do not pay full price before receiving the goods.
Know the watch’s current market price – Check new watch prices at chrono24 and used watch prices at eBay, Tourneau, Govberg, etc. Aim to pay less than the going rate.
Negotiate like F – I’m always surprised at how few gentiles know how to negotiate a watch price. I’ll write that article! Meanwhile, memorize these words: can it be any cheaper? Use them.
This article is about buying a watch from a hard-up bricks and mortar dealer. Soon you’ll be getting emails from online pre-owned and gray market dealers offering better and better bargains. Again, wait three weeks before pulling the trigger.
This is the worst of times and – yes I’m going to say it – the best of times.
UPDATE: Click here to read the latest Coronavirus Watch coverage.