January 17, 2015
by Ariel Adams
More and more watch companies are offering exclusive products at particular authorized dealers or only at their brand boutiques. These are often limited edition models, but they can also be desirable non-limited models. A good example of the latter are steel watches. While a particular timepiece might have precious metal versions available at a range of authorized dealers, the less costly steel or non-precious metal models will be exclusively available at authorized dealers. While this does not matter to some customers, it is increasingly the fact that more and more appealing watches are available exclusively at particular locations or solely at brand boutiques.
One brand willing to discuss their now available concierge service is Audemars Piguet. My understanding is that customers who purchase a watch from an Audemars Piguet brand boutique will have access to a American Express Black Card-style 24 hour concierge service – whose users rave about it. The concierge service is like a personal secretary that you call to do just about anything for you from getting hard to acquire restaurant reservations, purchasing personalized gifts for loved ones, booking event tickets, and even arranging complicated vacation and trip itineraries. Concierge services might be available from other brands as well, and having spoken to a few people who uses these services, it sure sounds as though they are worth it for those who would benefit from this type of personalized VIP service.
The value of brand swag and gifts that customers get with a purchase can vary, but often extend beyond just the watch purchase itself. While a lot of brand boutiques and authorized dealers can’t really discount, there are a lot of cool exclusive things customers can get as a gift – and we personally encourage would-be consumers to ask dealers what types of gift they can get with a purchase. Depending on the value of watch being purchased, customers can expect to get things like branded luggage, pens, clothing, watch winders, and things like watch travel cases. In select instances, if the purchase price is high enough, brand boutiques might even include a free watch (such as something for a customers spouse) or an included trip to Switzerland to personally pick up their timepiece when it is ready.
Entering the world of a watch brand is a sure way to fall in love with it. Many customers enjoy the idea of visiting a watch brand’s manufacture in Switzerland, but not all have an opportunity. Watch brands are often closed to the public, and visits must be made via arranged tours. In many instances, known customers of a brand have access to a manufacture and are welcome when planning in advance. In some instances, a brand might even pay for your trip to visit them. Actually, trip invitations are one of the most valuable part of buying watches from an authorized dealer or brand boutique.
Watch brands take personal pride in saying “thank you” to their most loyal (or big spender) customers. These thank you gifts often manifest themselves by including those customers in a sort of exclusive club of brand owners. While these clubs aren’t often official, their members feel as though they are part of an exclusive group. Members will frequently get exclusive wearables even if they are as simple as shirts and hats, but will also get invited to events. In some instances these events are all-inclusive trips to interesting places around the world.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of watch brands participate in or sponsor events. Want to go to those events as a guest of the brand? By no means is that out of the question if you are a known customer, and to be honest, it makes the ownership experience of a high-end watch much more valuable. Investing in a luxury timepiece can sometimes be a lonely thing if you don’t have people in your life who can appreciate it. Watch brands want you to feel like part of their world and to also mingle will like-minded watch lovers. To do this, they invite customers several times a year on a range of events all over the world. Sometimes, these trips are even more valuable than the watches themselves, but only those buying watches via the official authorized channels or directly from brands at their stores are considered for invitation.
Sometimes event invitations aren’t trips to exotic places or events, but rather more local, at a store or at various locations around where you live. These events allow to you to share time with other watch lovers as well as learn about what the brands are up to. In the process, you’ll get treated to fabulous dinners, meet celebrities, receive gifts, and feel like a valued customer who the brands really want to have a relationship with. Depending on where you live and the brands you like to purchase from, these events can be quite frequent, and also really fun. Their value should not be underestimated, and again, if you don’t purchase watches in an “official manner” you’ll never be included.
Personally, I have to say that while I don’t like spending more money than I need to, the value of these above unexpected benefits, in many instances, can make up for the discounts available at gray market retailers when you want to buy a new watch. In a sense, each time you purchase a high-end timepiece, you are designating yourself as part of a elite group of people who have the appreciation and resources for luxury items. Not being able to share your passion with others can remove pleasure from those purchases, and at the same time, there is a lot of value in having a close relationship with a brand that will give you a lot of free stuff just for purchasing watches in the official way.
aBlogtoWatch continues to have a policy that we don’t really like to tell people where to buy their watches, even if we have various retailers or boutiques that we have positive or advertising relationships with. More specifically, we want consumers to make intelligent and informed decisions about where to buy their high-end watches and what those experiences might be like. In a sense, it is a shame that watch companies don’t advertise these benefits, and none of these things have been expressly mentioned to aBlogtoWatch as part of a news release. Instead, my personal interaction with brands and consumers alike has allowed me to learn about all this stuff, which I feel is important to watch buyers because it can, in many instances, make buying a watch at full price worth it.
Do you have experience with unexpected benefits when buying a watch from an authorized dealer or brand boutique? If so, we’d love for you to share them in the comments below.
This article, Unexpected Benefits Of Buying Watches From Authorized Dealers And Brand Boutiques, is available in Chinese: 在授权经销商和品牌专营店买表意想不到的收获