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Buyers Guide for buying luxury Swiss Watches

Buyers Guide

Best Practice Guide

We have compiled these notes for you to give you some information, to make you aware of the many pitfalls in buying NEW watches off the Internet.

All watch manufacturers from Breitling through to Rolex stipulate on their own web sites that they do not sell any NEW watches online.

How Can I Be Sure I am Buying a Genuine New Watch?

You can be sure you are buying a genuine NEW watch if you follow these steps:

  • only buy a NEW watch from an authorised high street retailer;
  • ask for the official brands warranty cards or paperwork, duly completed with the serial numbers, the watch reference and the retailer’s full name and address;
  • if you want to know whether a watch is genuine, please contact the Manufacturer with the serial numbers which are usually engraved on the outer edge of the watch, on the case back or shoulders of the case. They can then compare this information with their official records to determine whether the watch is genuine.

Are NEW Omega/Cartier/Rolex/Tag Heuer watches and other brands sold over the Internet by the manufacturer?

These brands and many others are NOT sold on the Internet they are only sold through their own network of selected high street retail outlets.

Internet Companies offering these brands and other NEW watches on the Internet are not authorised retailers of NEW watches, they are generally grey imported watches from overseas and very often do not have ANY manufacturers warranty. The internet seller may give you a warranty of their own but this is NOT recognised by the ANY watch manufacturer, so be very careful when confirming what warranty it is going to be supplied with. If you have any doubts about the warranty then call the UK distributor of the actual watch brand, most high street jewellery retailers will have these contact details or check the watch brands own web site.

Some Internet websites may advertise a discount on many new watches, but have they actually got the watch in stock? Probably not, they will use your money, as you will have to pay upfront, then they will try and find the watch for you.

One Internet retailer, Blitz watches were always being quoted as somewhere to get good discounts off of watches. These discounts came at a price to the customer as when finally receiving the watch they had ordered it only had the Blitz warranty, not the manufacturers full warranty.

Why? This was probably due to the fact that the watch had originally come in from an overseas supplier/distributor and they had not been provided with the correct cards and warranty papers relevant to the individual watch. These are usually known as "GREY IMPORT" UK duty has not been paid on these watches. Are the watches actually NEW? Or are they pre-owned watches polished up as new with the original watch papers replaced and their own warranty cards put in their place?

One Internet company Blitz Watches, have now gone into Administration, possibly taking many customers deposits and payments with them, having paid for a watch upfront but unfortunately never going to receive it.

Always check out who you are dealing with. a good website to use for information is the Companies House site; just a few minutes spent browsing will help you decide whether to use a particular company. Are they safe? How long have they been trading? Do they have any financial backing? Have they got a Net worth?

Please ask a few questions before you buy, have some confidence in who you are dealing with. If you are ever in doubt, go elsewhere.

Have you got the actual watch in stock? Why do I have to pay for it before you order it? Do I get all of my money back if you can not get the watch within a reasonable and agreed time frame? Will the watch come with the manufacturers warranty and all correct booklets and cards? Is the watch coming from overseas? If so who is liable for the import duty?

Always try your local jeweller for a NEW watch; ask them for a deal or perhaps a small discount off the NEW watch you want. A discount on a NEW watch from an on-line retailer does not always work out to be worth the saving.

Buyer Beware

Watch Out For Counterfeit/Fake Watches

We have a watchmaker on our premises so if we are ever in doubt about a watch being genuine we are always able to get it checked out in the workshop.

We have had watches presented to us for sale with a genuine watch case and bracelet but with a fake movement within the watch and we have had the opposite, fake case and bracelet with a genuine movement in the faked case. You really do have to be very careful.

Please take great care if buying from any well known auction websites as they are very often littered with relpica watches. Always try and meet up with the seller or buyer of the watch, try and get the watch before full payment is made, this will give you time to get it authenticated.

We are being told of many fake Panerai’s being traded on auction sites at the moment, they are complete with a box and paperwork, but all completely fake.

These sections below are taken from two of our customers who visited our office.

Be wary when buying watches abroad! I visited watches.co.uk with two unwanted corporate gifts given to my boss by business colleagues in Qatar: a stainless steel Frank Muller Long Island 1000 SC and a Chanel J12 in black with diamond bezel. Both were supposedly “brand new”, boxed with documentation which was unsigned or stamped – but still very impressive. However, John immediately noticed the Muller had the wrong strap, and his antenna starting picking up a series of inconsistencies. First, there was the issue of whether the engraving on the reverse was sufficently deep. Second, the watch was stainless steel when the head of Muller in the UK (when called on the phone) confirmed that he had only seen models in gold. The Muller was getting fishier by the minute, so we took the back off what we had all originally believed to be the real deal. Although the mechanics of the watch were exactly what an expert would expect, the inside fit of the casing and the way it had been cut was not good enough for a Muller. John’s expert was adamant – it was not real. There was also some doubt about the quality of the numerals (a slight differentiation in the colour and quality). This was one of the highest quality fakes watches.co.uk had ever seen. Further examination of the Muller box (in leather) and strap also revealed minor inconsistencies which pointed to a fake. I was embarrassed by this, but to their immense credit, watches.co.uk spent about an hour doing tests and studying the watch, explaining every minor detail to me. It was an education – absolutely fascinating for anyone with a love of watches.

A huge warning to all potential buyers of quality timepieces, especially PANERAI. On visiting SWC and showing off my newly aquired Black Seal (purchased elsewhere)to John, he immediately suspected that all was not well and carried out a range of tests including weight, frequenzy, UV, visuals etc and to re-assure himself showed it to his in-house watchmaker, who sadly all confirmed that the watch was not real and that it had been the best copy ever seen. Fortunately the dealer I purchased the watch from was also duped and provided me with the full refund. The moral of the story is that I should have gone to John and his experienced staff in the first place as I had been doing for the last 8 years and bought with the re-assurance expected from a top class outfit such as SWC. If I had enough money I would buy Johnny out, such is my admiration for SWC. I have kept my details secret for obvious reasons but John can verify this email. A. Nonymous.

Shipping and Insurance cover.

Please take great care when shipping watches to dealers. The only carrier/despatch company that will give you any insurance cover is Royal Mail, Special Delivery service, do not use any courier as you will not be insured.

The Royal Mail will only cover each parcel up to a maximum value of £2500.00 so many watches are not covered by this insurance cover. If you are sending in more than one watch then please pack them up separately to insure that they are covered individually.

We would suggest that you visit the dealer in person to trade your watch, this obviously takes away the insurance risk.

When you have made an appointment with us to come to our London office we can often pay you in cash or we can always transfer the money into your account for you whilst you are with us.

If you are not able to visit us or any other dealer to trade please only use the Royal Mail Special Delivery service and never mention the word “watch” on the parcel or within the companies address, any item being shipped to us should always be addressed to SWC, 474a Chiswick High Rd, London W4 5TT.

If for some reason you are not dealing with us, maybe you are sending your watch to a Jeweller, do not mention the word “Jewellers” or “Jewellery” on your parcel.

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