ShopWorn Isn’t a Gray Market Dealer


ShopWorn high - low

So I got a call from The company wasn’t happy about our post Shopworn Depreciation Madness! In particular, their PR peeps took exception to my declaration that ShopWorn is “relatively new to the field of ‘gray market’ (new-in-box) timepieces.” Nope. They’re anti-gray market. The distinction requires explanation . . .

The first thing to know: ShopWorn doesn’t sell this season’s watches. All their watches are last year’s models – or older – that didn’t sell. As some watchmakers don’t change their basic models from year-to-year, a watch on ShopWorn could still be in the stores. But it probably isn’t.

Multinational ShopWorn

Shopworn doesn’t sell pre-owned watches. All their timepieces come from brand boutiques and authorized retailers in Turkey, Cypress, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain and Switzerland. While the imported watches are new-in-box they’re not sold as new. That’s because the watch may have been displayed/handled in the shop. Hence the term “shop worn.”

ShopWorn’s mavens inspect the watches for condition. All sales are covered by a 14-day return policy. If you don’t like the watch, send it back – subject to the usual stipulations about returning the timepiece unworn with its original packing. (Pro tip: don’t remove the condoms!)

Eberhard and friend

No matter what the watch’s brand, origin or age, the manufacturer’s warranty is null and void. So ShopWorn follows the standard resale industry practice and backs them with their own two-year guarantee.

If ShopWorn sounds like a gray market dealer, well, that’s what I thought. The key difference: ShopWorn doesn’t sell watches that retailers slip out the back door. They operate with the manufacturers’ blessing. In fact, the watchmakers dictate what pieces can be sold where and for how much.

Hamilton and friend - ShopWorn

The advantage to the manufacturers: they sell excess inventory at an agreed price into a market that doesn’t hurt the brand (as opposed to destroying watches, which does happen). The advantage to Shopworn: money. The advantage to you: a big discount.

I had a long conversation with Larry Birnbaum, ShopWorn’s CEO. The fifty-something exec took great pains to assure me that his team is dedicated to customer service. Some 1000 reviewers on back up the claim; 93 percent of those who posted rated the company excellent, earning ShopWorn 4.7 stars out of five.

Brace of Bremonts

This is not a paid political announcement. My name is Robert Farago and I approve of your skepticism (as if you didn’t know). As always, caveat emptor (buyer beware), especially when it comes to depreciation (good luck re-selling your discontinued, last season’s or otherwise unloved watch). You’ve been shop warned. I’ll give ShopWorn a spin and let you know how it goes.


  1. “the watch may have been displayed/handled in the shop.“

    “No matter what the watch’s brand, origin or age, the manufacturer’s warranty is null and void.”

    So for consumers exactly the same as a grey market dealer.

    • Hey TexasTimex,

      So I’m the PR flack that rang up Robert about ShopWorn. The manufacturer warranty isn’t null and void. ShopWorn just doesn’t send the warranty with the purchase out of an agreement with the manufacturers. ShopWorn sends a ShopWorn warranty to keep people from buying from ShopWorn at low prices then turning around and selling the same watch as new on actual grey market sites.

      One of the many differences with ShopWorn is that should your watch need extensive service that is covered under manufacturer warranty, ShopWorn will send that watch back to the manufacturer, who will then do the work. Because of the relationship between ShopWorn and brands, the brand will honor the warranty when the watch is sent through ShopWorn. Grey market dealers can’t say the same.

  2. I purchased a $1,800 watch from Shopworn. When it arrived, it was defective. I was offered a repair or a refund. I chose the refund and sent the watch back. Two months later, the same watch was listed for sale again on Shopworn. However, there was no mention of the fact that the watch had been repaired.

    This experience made me aware that some watches that are listed for sale on Shopworn may have been repaired. If you are considering buying a watch from Shopworn, I recommend that you ask the seller if the watch has been repaired and, if so, what kind of repair was done.

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