Buying a 'Grey Market' Wrist Watch...

Like if this guide is helpful
There has been much talk on the web about Grey market watches and the benefits and problems inherent in buying a watch in this way. I have spoken to a grey market dealer recently who works out of the middle east and he had put things clear in my mind as to what this involves. Firstly, we must not see grey market dealers as those who sell fake watches. Fake watch sellers are are fraudsters whatever way you look at it, even if you know that you are receiving a fake watch. Grey market watches come from a number of sources. In certain countries, watches are not taxed as greatly as in others. Watches in America are generally cheaper than those sold in the UK where VAT is charged at 20%. Also, business rents/rates, staff wages may be much higher leading to the 'on costs' being passed onto the customer. It is, therefore, very easy to simply buy a watch new in a shop in, say, Singapore, and offer it on a UK web site at a greatly reduced UK price. This may work. However, there are hidden costs. If a watch is posted from, say, UAE, you will pay, postage, insurance, VAT at 20% and import duty at 4%. So, a watch sold for £4000, like, a Cartier, will actually cost you about £5000, even more. What you will lose......... Grey market dealers often keep boxes and paper work. Why? because, it is valuable. It will be sold on at a later date. Either, on its own as original packaging, or in a deal with a used watch. Problems with warranties........ If you buy a watch, in the UAE, the dealer will stamp the name and address of the purchaser in the book. If you later make a claim the names won't tally and the manufacturer will see the watch as being sold on by the original buyer. That's why you often get grey market dealer's warranties. They will either repair it themselves or claim on the maker's warranty. Be warned, I know someone personally who got hit for import duty and VAT when the watch was returned to them. It was based on the insurance valuation. Grey market dealers won't lie on custom forms to save you hidden charges.

Rolex, Omega, JLC, IWC, Cartier, Patek etc do not sell watches out of the back door. They have a strongly guarded dealer network. Some watches that may be returned because of faults, or because of financial issues, may be passed on to the grey market dealer.  It saves the problem of sending the watch off for re-furbishing/repair when you have an angry/apologetic customer in the shop who wants an instant swap or their money back. This is rare as authorised dealers are instructed to go by the book. A few don't and these 'as new' watches or NOS (new old stock) watches might be passed on through the grey market. Be warned...some watch will be offered as 'grey market' when they have been sourced as a result of crime. A good number seem to be ex-display items sold 'as new'. These can be sourced through authorised dealers in your own country, in some cases. It's worth a try.

If the country you live in are easy going on their taxes, you will probably be able t buy a valuable watch comparatively cheaply. Others, may, for whatever reason, get a good deal in buying a grey market watch from a far away part of the world. Before writing this review I spoke to a friend who entered into a grey market transaction a while back. He waited 5 weeks for a 'new' Omega to turn up from Singapore. It came in a jiffy bag in the packaging for a Rotary branded watch. The instructions were badly photocopied and it had a scratch on the side...probably through having been a display item.  He also got hit for £700 import duty and VAT. He might as well gone to the most expensive dealer he could find in London and bought one new. He would have spent about £100 more and not had the wait!
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides