Limited Edition Watches – Scam?

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze

I checked out the comments underneath Tudor’s most recent Instagram post. I learned that living near a Tudor boutique, having cash-in-hand and showing up on day one wasn’t enough to secure the all-new Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze. “I went to the Tudor boutique on the first day it came out,” cokepepsimillie writes. “I was the first one. The sales staff told me there’s a long list of people already called up to get on the list. It’s funny true that watch enthusiasts never get a chance to own anything.” Speaking of limited edition watches . . .

Not limited Ed White Speedmaster

I recently reached out to an East Coast OMEGA authorized dealer to enquire about the availability of the OMEGA Speedmaster Caliber 321 Chronograph (a.k.a., Ed White). It’s a $14,100 Speedmaster with an old school movement to die for.

Limited Edition - OMEGA Speedmaster Caliber 321 Chronograph

Make that to die waiting for. “I have 15 clients waiting since it was released and I haven’t seen one [Ed White Speedmaster] come in,” my main man texted. “I have 65 clients waiting for Snoopy’s since it was released and still haven’t seen one.”

Limited Edition OMEGA Snoopy

If you despair because you can’t buy a box fresh Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze or Speedmaster 321 for love nor money, rest assured only half of that equation applies. Money is enough. Just be prepared to wait some and pay above retail.

For example, Chrono24 is listing a NIB Ed White Speedmaster 321 Caliber chronograph at $23k. It’s only a matter of time – and not much of it – before Tudor’s bronze bomber hits the gray market.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

Careful readers will note the clickbait and switch. Neither the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze nor the Speedmaster Caliber 321 Chronograph are limited edition watches per se. When it comes to those watches – “hot” products with a finite production run – fuhgeddaboutit.

The way the luxury watch market currently stands, I maintain that unobtainable vs. “limited edition” is a distinction without a difference. You have just as much chance of buying a “regular production” yellow dial Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41 at retail as you do securing a limited edition OMEGA Snoopy. None.

OMEGA Seamaster Railmaster

Watchmakers could cut models that aren’t popular – God knows they have enough slow-selling SKUsand increase production of watches that are hot, hot, hot. They could meet demand and ease “true” enthusiasts’ ever-growing resentment, the feeling that they’re on the outside looking in. Which they are.

Why would manufacturers do that? Watches made of unobtanium are loss leaders. “You always sell them something else in the meantime,” my East Coast OMEGA connection revealed. “Business is on 🔥 .” That’s worth repeating: the non-sale of a hero-of-the-moment watch fuels the sales of meh watches.

Are limited edition watches – whether officially or unofficially so designated – an effective business strategy or a scam? Yes! Unavailability increases brand cachet and maintains retail prices. At the same time, limiting supply of “gotta have” timepieces preys on customers’ insecurities, convincing them to buy something similar that they don’t really, really want.

The trick to not feeling left out: forget about wearing the “it” watch. Take the long term view. With some exceptions (e.g., the classic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak), the watch-of-the-moment fizzles in the face of The New Kid in Town. At that point, you can scratch your horological itch, perhaps paying less than retail. Not to put too fine a point on it, good things come to those who wait.

One comment

  1. “I have 15 clients waiting since it was released and I haven’t seen one come in,” my main man texted. “I have 65 clients waiting for Snoopy’s since it was released and still haven’t seen one.”

    So, basically… it’s vaporware.

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