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Want a New Watch? Put Your Name Right Here. – The New York Times

Watches

Luxury watch brands have always liked the concept of a waiting list and the exclusivity that it often signals to prospective buyers.

But with lists becoming more common and growing in both length and duration, some in the industry have warned of rising frustration among consumers who have money in their pockets but are being told to wait, wait and wait some more for their hearts’ desires.

A number of lists are said to stretch to years, decades even. The pre-owned website Watchmaster recently reported that the Rolex list for its GMT-Master II with a red and blue bezel, nicknamed the “Pepsi,” runs to 20 years.

Others, however, say the lists are being created by brands and retailers to manufacture hype, increase demand and inflate perceptions of value.

“Producers have realized that limiting supply, creating the impression of shortages and waiting lists, enhances the integrity of brands,” Jon Cox, head of Swiss equities at the financial services company Kepler Cheuvreux, wrote in an email. Brands also have been trying to rein in the gray market, where unauthorized dealers sell surplus watches at discounts, because, he wrote, “With stable prices in the secondary market, this enhances the value of the watch.”

A June thread about lists on rolexforums.com described wildly different sales experiences. One member, posting as storm66, wrote that the wait for a “Pepsi” had been “4 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and 1 day …”

But another, posting as Blanch, described going to an authorized dealer in Las Vegas and picking up another Rolex in high demand — the 36-millimeter Oyster Perpetual with a turquoise dial — with no delay at all. “Same day in and out,” the post said, adding that authorized dealers “say there’s no stock. They indeed have stock in the back. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have armed guards up front. It’s a matter of building a relationship.”

Does that mean some new customers might never get the watches they want, even if they can afford them and are prepared to wait?

“Our retailers keep wish lists mainly for loyal customers,” Adrian Lurshay, managing director of Patek Philippe’s British subsidiary, wrote in an email, adding that, in Britain, at least, “As the demand for all timepieces in our collection has increased significantly, wish lists now cover most references.”

Mr. Cox said such practices risk alienating customers. “In some cases, limiting supply and creating the impression of shortages and waiting lists has gone too far,” he said. “Waiting for years will encourage speculators rather than watch enthusiasts, who will ultimately go for another watch.”

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/22/fashion/watches-waiting-lists-zenith-rolex.html

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