My Problem with Watch Retailers

When I walk into a high-end watch retailer or boutique that sell brands like Rolex, Omega, Tudor, Vacheron Constantin etc, I expect to talk to people who know something about watches.
Unfortunately, 90% of the time this is not the case.

In my city (Cape Town), there are several watch retailers who sell almost all brands.
I can find everything from Seiko to Audemars Piguet to Richard Mille within a 10-minute drive from where I live.
Finding high-end watches is easy…. but finding a salesman that actually knows something about watches….WOW, that’s tough!

Why do they irritate me so much?

There are many things these “salesmen” do that drive me insane!

I have walked into many watch retailers and started talking about the movements inside the watches. The Omega Speedmaster is a good example.
The Speedmaster comes in many variations. Some have a manually would movement while others have an automatic movement.
Obviously both of these are mechanical (one winds itself while the other needs to be hand wound), but try to explain this to a certain lady at a watch retailer in the V&A Waterfront.

They had a limited edition Speedmaster on display which I had never seen before.
I went into the shop and asked about the watch. She took it out and handed it to me so I can have a look at it.
I asked her if the watch had a manual wind or automatic movement.
She quickly answered: “Sir, this is an expensive watch. Obviously it has an automatic movement. We don’t sell any battery watches”
I almost literally had to pick my jaw up from the floor. I couldn’t believe that she doesn’t know the different between a quartz watch and one with an automatic movement.

At a different retailer, I went to have a look at the Tudor Black Bay.
Most serious watch nerds will know that before 2016, Tudor used an ETA movement inside the Black Bay. Since 2016 they started using their own in-house movement.
An easy way to distinguish between the 2 is by looking at the logo on the dial.
The older ETA version has the Tudor Rose logo with curved text at the bottom of the dial.  The new in-house version has the Tudor shield logo and straight text at the bottom of the dial.

I asked to look at the ETA version and the salesman handed me the newer version.
I had to explain the difference to him and finally he gave me the correct watch.

Older Black Bay (ETA Movement)
Older Black Bay (ETA Movement)
New Black Bay (in-House Movement)
New Black Bay (in-House Movement)

There have also been occasions where they don’t know the difference between a deployant buckle and a normal pin buckle.

Another thing that really gets on my nerves is when they call the dial of the watch the “face”.

They also give you the watch and say cringey things like “Wow, that looks nice on your wrist”.
NO!! Tell details about the watch. Hit me with facts, the history of the watch, the movement, famous people who wear the watch etc. Don’t just stand there like a plank and tell me that it looks nice on my wrist.

Here is my message to watch retailers:

PLEASE EMPLOY WATCH NERDS!!! How do you expect someone who knows nothing about watches to be able to recommend and sell watches to your customers?
With almost all other products, the salesman are experts in the items they are selling.
If you buy a car, the salesman will probably be able to tell you everything you need to know, while most watch salesmen will just say “Wow, that looks nice on you”.

I will come to your shop or boutique and give training to your staff. I’ll even give 1 session for free!
I’m a true watch nerd and I don’t mind sharing my passion and hopefully teaching your salesmen to do their job a little better.

There are many watch salesmen that are huge watch nerds and who do their job brilliantly. I can think of a few in my area. You guys rock!
Unfortunately, this is not true for the majority out there.

I really hope this will change and that one day I can walk into a watch retailer filled with watch nerds!

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