Yes, it’s the end of the world as we know it. Am I a bad person for thinking that it’s a good time to buy a watch? Maybe so, but it’s a fact. Authorized dealers can see the writing on the wall – a sales drought like none before. And just like you and me, they need cash to pay their rent and people. So are they ready to offer [otherwise] insane discounts? Yes. Yes they are. The real question . . .
How long should you wait?
That depends on Coronageddon’s progress, of course. The main variable: will watch dealers remain open over the next week or two? If America suffers the same fate as Italy, France and Spain, we have a two to three-week window before all watch dealers are forced to close their doors to prevent transmission. At most.
If a dealer sees that writing on the wall – as my local Grand Seiko and Cartier dealer does – they’re ready, willing and able to play ball. So yes, it’s time to buy a watch.
I’ve got my eye on a Grand Seiko anniversary quartz, retail $4k. And a Drive de Cartier, retail $5k. Dealers of luxury watches operate on a 50 percent margin. Now’s the tone to ask for a 50 percent discount. Settle for 25 percent? Up to you.
If my dealer stays open next week, I’m going to offer $4.5k for both. (Always bid low.) If they laugh or feel insulted, time is on my side. The longer this pandemic goes on, the more an authorized dealer’s going to be willing maybe even happy to make a sale on a cost basis.
Assuming dealers remain open, assuming Coronageddon stretches into mid-April with no end in sight, they’ll be desperate. ‘Cause no one’s buying watches when they can’t buy toilet paper – unless they get a stonking deal.
BUT if you wait too long and retail shuts down, you’ll may have missed the time to buy a watch. There’ll be no one to answer the phone, never mind take your money.
Email? Social media? Worth a try. A closed bricks and mortar dealer is a desperate bricks and mortar dealer. The smaller ones anyway. Meanwhile, the online watch sellers will be just as desperate. Sign-up for their emails and wait a week or two, or three, or more.
At some point – I’m thinking at least a month out – real world dealers will see a light at the end of the tunnel. They’ll be less ready to play ball, figuring they waited this long for demand to return, why not wait a few more weeks?
There’s something called post-cataclysmic “revenge shopping” – people buying stuff simply because they couldn’t before. Call it pent-up demand. On the other hand, consumer confidence is not going to return to the dizzying heights we saw before Coronageddon for at least a year.
If consumer demand stays low even when the word “quarantine” loses its dread, watch dealers be open to discounts when they open, thanks to serious overstock. And thanks to wanting to thank you for helping put the paddles to their formerly comatose business. They just won’t be as open as they are now, and in the coming weeks.
[As for used watch prices, I reckon they’re going to crater soon (watching chrono24) and stay down for a long, long time. Demand will be low and supply will increase, as people look to generate cash.]
If you’ve got your eye on a new Rolex, bad news. The Swiss watchmaker hasn’t re-directed inventory from the dead Asian market in time (or at all) and they’ve shut down production. There are precious few watches upon which to bid. Saying that, we know that some AD’s squirrel away grail watches. There’s no harm in asking.
Again, I apologize for my insensitivity. People are dying and I’m talking about capitalizing on tragedy to buy a watch. In my defense, people are always dying, and buying a watch at a discount helps sustain authorized dealers and watchmakers.
Bottom line: it’s time to buy a new watch. I suggest that you make your dealer a ridiculous offer now (week of March 16). Welcome to the new normal.
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