Should You Buy a Gray Market Watch?

Are you in the market for a lower priced Swiss watches? You may have noticed the low prices offered on sites such as Jomashop, Prestigetime, and WorldofWatches, but are these sites reliable and should you trust such shops for your money? I am here to examine all the pros, cons, and risks correlated regarding on buying a gray market watch.

John wondering where to buy an authentic Rolex watch that is in a lower pice

For ages, I’ve been discussing Swiss watch companies in manufacturing lavish and high-quality timepieces with mid to high-range of luxury prices. However, some of these timepieces are available to purchase through authorized dealers, but if you want to get them at a lower price, your best option is the gray market.


Should you buy a gray market watch? What is the gray market?

First and foremost, let us fix a major issue. The gray market is not illegal at all. It is mostly referred as a parallel market that channels through imported goods by distributors that are unauthorized by the original manufacturer. It consents USA consumers to buy products that are not meant to be sold in the USA market, and at the lower prices usually paid overseas.

The gray market is different from the black market because the goods in the black or underground market are all illegal to buy in the USA. Even though you are not breaking any law by purchasing gray market products, there are still a few important notes that you would like consider.

Questions about the gray market

1. Authenticity: Is the gray market watch fake?

Not according to Prestigetime, Jomashop, and WorldofWatches, they claim that their watches are 100% genuine and authentic. Gray market watches are authentic watches from the original manufacturer. They are not factory seconds or fakes. What makes them different is that they passed through a reseller or an unauthorized dealer on your way. If you purchase or plan on purchasing from gray market sites that have an excellent reputation and are highly known to be selling of authentic watches, then you are in good hands. Also, be mindful that some gray market dealers are dishonest. Hence, being a buyer, you must be fully aware. If you are doubtful about the status of the gray market seller you are thinking of buying a new watch from, then consider buying the watch elsewhere.

Common signs of a fake watch


2. Product pricing

If you are looking at a specific watch on a gray market site, you must first check if the site has a toggle switch that allows users to change the default currency to your desired currency. If there is no toggle switch and its default currency is in US dollars, you can do the calculation of the approximate cost using the built-in converter of Google. For instance, you are trying to convert US dollars to British pounds, just type in the search bar ‘convert $X to £’ then hit enter for a quick conversion.

Website's toggle for currency conversionUS dollar converion to British pound

You’ll encounter the prices being incomparably lower in contrast to the UK’s price. One of the reasons is the products sold in the UK frequently have a substantial markup in their price. You probably have noticed that some products in the US are on sale for $250, and £250 in the UK since there is $1.23 to the pound. Also, you probably heard the argument about US prices exclusion of the VAT and local taxes. However, the markup is undeniably evident. On a positive note, the gray market eliminates the markup for the UK and other consumers to purchase goods at overseas prices.

Another important note to be aware of is the inevitable price change that happens on a daily basis. Frustration is just around the corner where you might end up wondering if it is the best price offered. What you can do is to decide if it is the price that you are willing to pay. If it is, just buy the thing. Otherwise, leave it and find somewhere else.

Woman is confused for the regular price change


3. Packaging

Gray market sites such as the Jomashop and Prestigetime do an incredible packaging of their products. However, your parcel’s chance of getting destroyed during the delivery is very minor, provided the postage charges which have the best interests of everybody. Some of the gray market sites offer insurance if your package is lost or the like. For instance, “all packages dispatched via Prestige Time LLC are fully covered against theft, damage, and loss in the course of shipment,” guaranteed by the Prestigetime.

 Jomashop packaging Tag Heuer Packaging from Prestigetime

4. Shipping and customs charges

Although gray market sites provide free shipping to the USA, they are out of paying any import duty charged by the US Customs when sending goods from their warehouses. Shipping to some other countries is available, but each one of them has different import rules and regulations.

Free shipping

“The sales tax rate will be calculated by your local sales tax rate. We do not collect sales tax on orders shipping anywhere outside of New York State,” it states on Prestigetime’s terms and conditions.


Customs charges are your main issue here. Some customs would say that they have your package and you won’t be able to receive it until you have paid the customs fee for a maximum of 20 days. There would be a chance for a damaged package if you failed to pay, if it is returned to the sender, you will be responsible for paying the return costs as well. Either or not your package is picked up by Customs is so much a healthy dip, the charges must be paid in all legal forms. The best piece of advice we can give is to expect in paying the import VAT and have it included in your calculation of the total price of your device.

Paying the custom fee first before getting the package

Another worth mentioning information is that some gray market sites have Chinese and EU warehouses. On purchasing goods that are in these warehouses would mean that you don’t have to pay for Customs charges. Grey market sites are usually open to discuss any special labeling or packing instructions you may have. The products sent through an air mail would be marked up as of little value or a gift even though you must know since it will not make them as an exemption from the US charges when opened.


5. Delivery times to overseas countries

Here is a rule of thumb: Never expect to get a next-day delivery from these gray market sites even though the delivery is much faster than your expectation. Be keenly aware that if Customs inspect your package, expect a much longer delay.

Do not expect for a next day delivery

6. Return Policies and Refunds

Return policy and refunds

Here’s the fact: The return policies is the biggest risk that you can experience in buying from a gray market. Think of this, “What if the watch is defective?” You are not covered by the regulations of the European Union law if you purchase overseas products such as a timepiece.  Take into account that there might be a language barrier in dealing with the customer services depending on the site in an inquiry.


Gray market watches will not be defective. As I’ve mentioned, most of them provide an incredible packaging and perform a checkup before sending out to dodge the potential dramas of returns. Nevertheless, it is important that you check the site’s return policy before buying.


Let us take Jomashop as an example. They will service every brand name watch sold on their website for one to five years of purchase. However, the warranty won’t cover “if there is evidence of excessive tear or wear, or if used under conditions which exceed the watch’s water resistance guidelines from the manufacturer,” as stated on their site. Also, the warranty will be a void for incidental and consequential damages.


Jomashop suggests of contacting them within five days of receipt of your shipment if the received watch has noticeable damages or discrepancies, or if they sent the wrong item.  If you’re only returning an item for a refund just because you are dissatisfied with it, you have up to thirty days to decide. However, you will be responsible for the shipping fee which will be deducted from your total refund. All exchanged or returned items should be in their original packaging, new condition and must include all packing material, manuals, accessories, and blank warranty cards. Failure of providing such will automatically mean a refusal of your return. To return an item, you need first to obtain an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number which is accessible in the Return Quest Form on their site. It does not even guarantee a final disposition and returns since they are subject to inspection. The validity of the RMA numbers is ten days.

Jomashop returns and repair request form

7. Conclusion

Purchasing a timepiece on a gray market site or dealer is not suitable for everyone, and some of the risks are very clear. You probably will get an excellent deal on a luxury Swiss watch, or you probably get a headache that will stay for some weeks. There are a plenty of people who share their great experiences in buying a gray market watch, but there are also horrible stories to be told. Guided by the facts, you can deliver an educated decision to whether purchasing a gray market watch or the retail watch price from the original manufacturer is the best solution for you.


Gray market watch risks might give you a headache   Gray market watch great experiences from satisfied customers

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