The girlfriend experience, or why you should buy your watch from an authorized dealer

Screen capture of a website selling fake Rolexes.

Screen capture of one the zillions of websites selling fake Rolexes.

Fake! Fake!

If you  bought your Rolex online, then I’m sure you fear hearing these words yelled out as you mingle at a cocktail party.  Why? Because you really cannot be certain that said Rolex is AUTHENTIC as opposed to a very good fake.

My friend, FormulaTime, at WatchPaper asked me to blog about how to spot a fake. Sorry, FormulaTime, I won’t do that. There are already tons of excellent YouTube videos that will teach you how to spot a fake Panerai, Rolex, etc. etc.

But FormulaTime’s request did, in fact, inspire me to blog about how to AVOID buying a fake and how (and where) to properly buy a timepiece.

So how do I make sure that I buy a REAL Rolex or Panerai or Omega? Well, buy it from an Authorized Dealer (AD)!!! Don’t be  cheap! I mean, if you’re going to spend several thousand dollars on a piece, fork over a few hundred extra and buy from an AD and have the warranty, after-market service, assurance, etc. that comes from buying from a legit dealers. Or, buy from a well-known and established pre-owned dealer or grey market dealer in your area. But make sure the dealer is trusted and recommended.  And be aware that grey market purchases usually come with no warranty. For those who don’t know, grey market watches are legitimate watches that are acquired and then re-sold by non-authorized dealers. The product is fine and often 30% or more below retail price, but they carry no manufacturers’ warranty. As for online, I’ll admit that there are a few reputable sites that sell high end timepieces. But when you buy a serious piece, for serious money, online, you’re missing a great opportunity.

You see, buying a new piece is an opportunity to build credit with your local AD, to become a bigger and better client. And the process of buying is a huge part of the whole experience. On Two And A Half Men, Charlie sometimes mentions ”the girlfriend experience” when it comes to… escorts. This refers to an evening with more than just hanky panky – it means a greater experience, and this applies to watches. For me, a huge part of the fun of buying a piece is the shopping. Talking to the experts at an AD. Trying on different pieces. Asking questions. Learning about the movements, brands, materials and models. I love this process, the VIP treatment and I also want to be recognized as a serious watch buyer by all the serious dealers.

Recently,  I went to a top jewelry store that carries an impressive selection of watches. But they don’t specialize in this stuff. They had the brand new Alpina Heritage Pilot 50mm and I was so excited to try it on. Then the sales lady confidently explained, “it’s more expensive because it’s automatic”.

It’s not automatic!  

I had to show the poor lady how to wind it and also how to open the hunter case and view the movement through the back. Then I showed her how to wind an automatic piece. Would I spend two Thousand bucks on an Alpina in this situation? No way!!!!

If I’m spending a few thousand bucks on a piece, I want to deal with an expert. I also want to build a relationship with this expert. After all, I’ll probably become a repeat customer. For guys like me, a watch dealer is like a drug dealer. Years of TV viewing have taught me that you don’t score dope from strangers. It’s dangerous. You score from someone you know and trust. You build a relationship with that guy because if you want the good stuff at the right price, you gotta have the right connection. Just like watches. And sometimes it’s better to pay more and buy from a trusted dealer than to cheap out and buy from someone you’ve never heard of.

As with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

Yours truly,


TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."