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Negotiating Watch Prices in Retail Stores: The 25% Off Rule

Negotiating Watch Prices in Retail Stores: The 25% Off Rule Watch Buying Usually, I would recommend that you buy your watches online. It is cheaper and you are going to have a much better selection. However, there are occasions when you want to buy something in an actual brick and motor store location. The might have something you want, or it is a simple matter of instant gratification.

Buy watches in a store is a lot like buying a car. Someone approaches you while you are just trying to browse to ask if you would like any help. Yes, they are working on commission, but they need to give you some place. Sometimes, I really just want to look. Other than asking “need any help today,” maybe they could offer some interesting information based on the watches I am checking out. I’d rather know about a special edition, sale offer, or fascinating technical detail, than how interested they are in how likely I am going to buy something that day. What this all means however is that you can bargain.

Let me just say that in most watch stores you can bargain up to 25% off. The 25% off rule as I call it. Don’t try this at Macy’s but it will work at jewelry stores and places like Tourneau. Further, it does not work on all brands. Rolex watches for example have no to little wiggle room. This is a requirement of Rolex, not the watch store. So don’t try on those. But for just about everything else you can bargain off 25% off the price with the sales person still earning a commission.

Here is what you do, if you aren’t endowed with the negotiating tongue. Ask them what the price for the watch is today. Most places will tell you a price based on the tag, or break out the calculator. Ignore what they are saying. Take the first price they give you and take 25% off. Say “you will still get a commission on this, and you know I can get as good a deal if not better online.” If that does not work. Say, I have cash, and will buy this right now at the price (for this you ought to have the cash, which is important because it means they don’t have to pay credit card processing fees and can report the sale at a lower price to avoid taxes). If that does not work, simply proceed to leave.

Don’t walk out just yet, stop to look at something else for a moment before leaving the store. Chances are they will say “OK” and give you the price. How do I know all this? Well beyond loving to bargain, I have been offered this discount at various watch stores, often without even asking. Not just small places, but corporate stores as well. Once I was in the Mont Blanc store in San Francisco discussing the watches with the store manager. Realized that I knew what I was talking about she informed me that she could take off 25% off any item. I didn’t even have to ask.

So take my advice and work the sales people a little bit before doing business. You are actually helping them, because they lose a lot of business to online sales. By showing them that you are willing to do business if they make prices more attractive, then you are showing them how to stay more competitive. Looking forward to hearing about your success!

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  • OmegaSearcher

    THANK YOU for positing this article. This is incredibly helpful for me since I am planning on heading to Tournea and was wondering how much wiggle room I had for finance negotiations there on some of the Omega watches I was interested in. Now I know, and this percentage is greater than I might have thought. If I walk out of the store, it will either be with 25% of their lowest price, or no watch at all.

  • Hello OmegaSearcher,
    I am happy to get of help. Understand that certain very popular brands such have less wiggle room (like Rolex), others however may have more. Omega watches are sufficiently produced that discounts of 25% likely apply. The best tactic is not going in there and demanding 25% off. Rather, take the retail price, do some calculations in your head. And say that is what you are willing to pay. Then walk out if some friendly back and forth doesn’t work. The bottom line is that the sales person will be more flexible if they know a sale is likely. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • Viktor

    Thanks a lot for your article! Do you believe that asking for, let’s say, 15% off instead of 25%, improve chances greately? And can I try bargain without cash in my pocket (i.e. can they offer discount if I pay credit card and how much)? I appreciate your suggestions!

  • Viktor,
    Glad to be of service to you! Your success will depend on a lot of things. Including the sales person, the store, and the brand. You’ll always get a better price with cash. Two reasons are the price the credit card processor takes (usually about 3%), and that they an report a lower price and pay less tax. So I’d take you can often get a 3-8% discount by using cash. The real factor for them is that you are serious about buying. They don’t want to offer you a good price only to have you leave.
    Try this. Ask them what the price of a watch is. If they quote you retail, ask them what the best they can do is. If they give you a “discount” price, then use a calculator to figure out what the discount is (they will usually tell you, or let you use their calculator). The offer something closer to 25% off the retail price, unless you are happy with their “best offer.” If they agree to 25% off, great. If not, tell them you are ready to buy right now, but that is what your budget allows. If they are stubborn, don’t get upset. Focus on something else. Some other, less expensive watch. It takes away attention from the one you want, but shows you are serious. As they realize they might not get a sale for the higher ticket watch, they will keep haggling. You might not get 25%, but you’ll likely get a deal you are happier with. Keep stressing you are ready to buy for the right price only. Say, “I want you to make some money from this watch, but I have a budget to consider. Unless you think you someone else will buy the watch today at your price, you can make a nice sale right now.”
    Again, this all depends on the watch, the store, and the prices, but these tactics are all universally good ways of getting a deep discount. Let me know how it goes!

  • Viktor

    Dear Ariel Adams! This is Viktor again. Please let me know what you think – the seller refuses to lower his price. We’ve been using your tactics – no luck. He said – I might even call regional manager and he would say the same thing, we have the lowest price possible in the US. And I am not talking about something sophisticated – just Omega Seamaster. We’ll try tomorrow, do you have any advice? Thanks!!

  • Viktor,
    Good to hear from you. I am sorry that you are having problems with your potential purchase. I have a couple of thoughts that will help. First of all, it looks as though you know the precise model that you want. If this seller is giving you a hassle, just go to another one. There is no rarity among people who sell Omega Seamaster watches. Don’t waste your time on a stubborn sellers. Don’t worry about buying online either.
    Sounds like the sales person was giving you the run around. Always take up their offer on calling the manager or what not. Tell them you are ready to buy. You are fortunate that there is competition out there! You should also know that certain brands like Rolex and possibly Omega have less wiggle room at authorized dealers. There is nothing particularly special about authorized dealers except that the watch companies police them! Find a nice seller online that will get you the same watch, at a better price. Its not that I am pushing you or anyone to buy online versus in retail, but the reality is that prices are better around here.
    Let me know if there is anything else I can do, if it were up to me I’d match you with the perfect seller right away! Take care my friend.

  • Viktor

    Dear friend! Visiting next day and negotiating with different guy helped a little bit. I had my 10% discount. That’s pretty close to what I’ve been expecting. Anyway, I want to thank you for your article! Take care!

  • Viktor,
    Sweet success! I am glad to hear it. Enjoy your new Omega watch. Let us know how you like it once you’ve worn it in a bit. Thanks again.

  • ken

    For people in the future who read this off google (like I found it), “admin” should have gone to a tourneau store or such. They had 30% coupons back when the economy was good (back in the early 00s) and regularly give 25% off Seamasters. If a salesperson gives you any push back on 25% just leave. Don’t look at other watches, just look for the door. Another store will happily say yes.

  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for your comment. Coupons like you mentioned are still around, but only for “dedicated” customers who are repeats. Tourneau has invite only sales and alike. The bad economy is making sales like that more common, but luxury companies hate the ideas of sales, so you won’t find Tourneau coupons in your newspaper. I agree with your advice 100%. Going into a store known what you want, and know the max you are willing to pay for it. If the store doesn’t want to play ball, neither do you. Thanks for reading.

  • João

    This is great information. Do you think the 25% discount will work on a Patek Philippe? If you buy from an authorized dealer who claims that the watch is accompanied with papers, would the Patek Philippe archive allow me to register the watch? Thank you very much!

    • When you deal with an authorized dealer they are bound by rules that companies set. Certain “strong” brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe prohibit authorized dealers from discounting beyond an allowed amount. Patek would be stupid to deny you access to registering the watch. Somewhere along the line the watch came from an authorized dealer – why should it be your fault who you bought it from if they are legitimate seller? Know what I mean?

  • foo

    Certain “strong” brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe prohibit authorized dealers from discounting beyond an allowed amount.

    I see this all over the net but it’s an urban legend. It is ILLEGAL for any manufacturer to tell or ask or contract or whatever with their dealers to sell at a given (or higher) price. This is called collusion and has been illegal for decades.

    That’s why it’s called M.SUGGESTED.R.P

    Jewelers will claim that rolex prevents them from selling at a lower price or giving deep discounts. They are outright LYING in this case. They can sell that $10,000 rolex for $1 if they want and rolex can’t do a thing (and rolex can’t remove them from being an authorized dealer for this reason either).

    • Hi Foo,
      I appreciate your comment, but you are not actually correct. There are contractual obligations that the authorized dealers have. While it is not “illegal” per se, the brands can pull their status as a dealer. Which is the most common response. There are also cases involving brand value integrity where brands of products have been able to successfully disallow merchants from selling their products (at least advertising them as such) for certain prices that would degrade the value of the merchandise. The situation is honestly different with each brand and retailer. But you are correct it is common sales tactic to say that someone “simply cannot” go below a certain price. Take care.

  • Navid

    Hi admin,

    I have been kind of wondering the same thing about negotiating…but not on a omega or rolex…I was looking more towards a breitling for bentley or a breitling navitimer. I believe the retail price is 8,500 and 5,500 respectively. Do you believe that either of these watches have any wiggle room in price? Other websites I have been reading state that the most you can get off of breitlings is average of 37%. Is that true?

  • Chiil

    I came across this article a few weeks ago. I just came back from my local jeweler, who is an authorized dealer for various “entry” level watches, as well as some other high end ones. I was going to buy a mechanical dive watch online, then decided to find a local AD. After a few emails, being forward that I was looking online but that it would be nice to deal with someone locally, he called and gave me 25% off up front. I could have gone online with a gray market one, saving maybe 37%, but with no mfg. warranty. After speaking with him a bit, I pulled the trigger, stopped in and bought the watch. He mentioned not to advertise the discount, as he really shouldn’t be doing this with the brand of watches for which he’s an Authorized Dealer. In all, I am pretty happy! Why? A) I’m dealing with a local reputable authorized dealer B) My warranty is valid, unlike some online “gray” market watches. C) He has a new customer who is willing to work with him again… maybe buy a watch for the wife now.

    • Thanks for sharing the experience.

  • Old Skool

    I tried your technique on buying an Alfa Romeo 159. It worked a treat. Over 20% off the price with some patience and being polite and honest. Now i’m going to try the same technique on a Nomos that I’ve been pining after for some time. Thanks Ariel.

  • Joe

    What I like to do is come in weeks before I want to buy a watch, I will become acquainted with a sales person and give very vague details about what I’m looking for (never give your price range). I will let this salesman lead me throughout the store look at various watches and I will negotiate every single price with them until they final show me the watch I wanted to buy (this may be days or weeks later) by the time they get to the watch I’m looking to buy they know I’m going to negotiate the price. This works great with cars too.

  • John Sy

    Hi,

    Thank you for this timeless article. Specially with a down economy, stores would rather shave off some profits rather than lose the sale.

    You mentioned online stores as the cheaper alternative but there is also prevalence of online fraud. Any thoughts on which site is/are preferred? Any ideas on how to haggle further? (if that’s possible at all).

    Cheers,
    Johnsy

  • LMB

    Thanks for the great article- it’s very informative. I’m looking to purchase a Cartier Ballon Bleu watch in the next few weeks- do you know if Cartier is a brand that has wiggle room with the pricing? Thanks for your help!

  • PeteNice

    As a person in a different field that competes (like everyone) with online pricing, I do take some objection to this. The reasons are obvious: The actual presence of the piece in front of you (newness/authenticity), education, retail overhead, expertise, and the fact that in many cases, if the online deal were THAT attractive you would have taken it. So I disagree on some level that you’re doing them a favor because if that were true, you’d just buy at retail price and move on. Typically, “negotiators” want their cake and eat it too. You can’t have all the goodies that come with a real interaction at the same price as a mouseclick.

  • Honest Opinion

    Did’t realize this article was this old. What a timeless one

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