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Purchasing a watch in Switzerland

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Geneva in particular. Is it advisable because of model choices, but less so because of prices? Currently the CHF is about equal to the USD.
post #2 of 8
The brands set prices for each market separately from what I understand. The prices will be relatively close, but will be fixed for a year (catalog year) in each country or market. Prices at the boutiques owned by the companies themselves usually have the least ability to discount but they will have more access to models and more variety in stock. Authorized dealers in certain markets have more flexibility for discounting depending on the distributor. Sometimes the distributors are local companies, sometimes they are a subsidiary of the watch label specific to that country or region. Some brands disocunt more than others. Patek is going to discount the least across all countries. As is Rolex, but...(comment withheld in order to avoid any wars) Sellers like Wempe, which operates in a lot of countries, has tremendous access to different special edition models, so they probably can get you nearly every watch, although they won't discount special orders like they will with items in stock. If you find something at a boutique that isn't a special edition I'm sure the biggest retailers can get it for you with a bit of a discount. There are also going to be some special brands with much more availability like Roger DuBuis than there would be anywhere else. Good luck.
post #3 of 8
FWIW, I have noticed that Switzerland is consistently one of the markets where the buyer is triple-disadvantaged: horrible FX, high retail price, low discounts. I find that Gevena is worthwhile for breadth and depth of model choice - it affords the convenient opportunity to try things on in the metal - so you can determine precisely what you want and purchase more cost-competitively elsewhere. Of course, some people enjoy the idea of buying a watch from its home market... but it comes at a price.
post #4 of 8
You may be able to negotiate a 10-15% discount and not paying tax (VAT or US state sales tax) may give you additional savings. Try stopping by Bucheron and see what kind of discount they can offer you.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, that confirms what I thought, but since I know little about the watch market, it's nice to have expert/educated opinions.

I was in Geneva a couple of weeks ago to meet with people in various industries, and was impressed, everyone seems to wear a nice watch, even the concierge at the Crowne Plaza. I found myself tugging at my sleeve to hide what adorned my wrist...
post #6 of 8
Actually the franc is worth more than the dollar. The Swiss VAT is 7%, so not a great deal of savings on tax refunds as you have in other countries where there is VAT of 19% or more. Don't forget Global Refund gets a cut too, so you don't actually get 100% of the VAT back.

Keep in mind that some places do not bargain and the prices are firm. In fact they take offense to bargaining. They believe their prices are "fair". If you pay with certain credit cards, there could be a markup/fee in addition to the charge from your credit card company for foreign exchange. If paying by credit card and you have a choice between francs and dollars, choose francs. Your credit card company will offer better exchange rates. You would be surprised how many people pay with cash.

Selection is good, but if you are coming with US dollars, probably better off in NYC. Compare US prices before going to Geneva. Although the rare watches will still be rare or have the usual waiting list.
post #7 of 8
If you are relatively new to Swiss watches, I would recommend reading some of the dedicated watch forums. There is a lot of information out there. A good swiss watch can last many decades if you take good care of it and get it serviced regularly. Note that getting one of these watches serviced is not cheap so keep that it mind.

I don't think there is a reason to buy it from Switzerland unless you want to get a new watch model before it arrives in the US or you want to tell others that you bought it in Switzerland. I have seen and heard of both scenarios, usually the latter from someone who likes to show off a little bling. If you are looking for one of those rare watches that were produced in limited quantities, you need a connection with an insider to grab one of those anyways.
post #8 of 8
Shop in Switzerland; buy in the US. You will get a much better deal at the Las Vegas watch shops these days considering the state of the NV economy.

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