Okay, it’s an overused phrase, and can equally be stated as “I got a gal . . .”, but gender notwithstanding, I have come to value my relationships with independent watch retailers. As a result, I’ve actually “got a couple of guys” and I am a happier watch nut for it.
Not to throw shade on the manufacturer-owned stores (I’ve had terrific experiences with several), but, by design, such stores only represent the products of their masters and are sometimes staffed by people whose only interest is to sell you a watch – preferably from current inventory and at MSRP (or above!). By comparison, a reputable and established independent shop typically offers a varied range of watches, allowing comparisons between brands, and such shops are often more flexible on price.
And not to throw any shade at the online watch sites (the possibilities here are mind boggling and can be quite rewarding), but navigating the options online can sometimes be daunting. When making an online purchase, having an “in person” relationship with an independent shop where you can obtain counsel and guidance can truly save you from disappointment, or worse.
Over the years, I have interacted with several independent shops. Of course, their primary focus is to sell the products, which is understandable (after all, it is a for-profit business). However, the really great shops, those that rise above the rest do so by offering “value added” services. They have knowledgeable staff that listen and provide direction, they operate with integrity and most importantly, they get to know me. These qualities are simple in word, but sadly, somewhat more difficult in practice. Expending the effort to find and establish a relationship with a reputable independent shop will always be effort well spent.
One of my favorite shops officially represents many watch brands, has a first-rate service & repair department and also a successful business in pre-owned watches. I have indeed purchased several watches from them and what keeps me coming back is that they have invested in knowledgeable and professional staff, and have invested in me as a customer. They are happy to provide counsel and guidance, even when I am considering (or have even purchased) a watch from another source. It is important to patronize these shops to ensure that such service can continue to be offered.
It is also worth mentioning that courtesy, respect and integrity practiced and exhibited by the customer almost always results in better service from any shop. So, once you’ve located your guy or gal, treat them well. In return, you will be well taken care of and gain an even finer appreciation of these intricate machines that we wear on our wrists.