Adventures in the Watch Trade- What I learned In 11 Years of Selling Watches.-Part 2

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This here is the second part of an article about what I learned during my years in the watch industry.

For those of you just tuning in, here's a link to the first part;


Okay, where was I? Right.

Sales Training

I hate this crap. I’ve sat through a few of these over the years where some dude shows up and begins telling us how to sell. He (and it’s usually a guy...in a bad suit, you know, the ones with shiny patches along the shoulder where their seat-belt has grazed against it a million times, but they’ll wear it to death before going out and spending some MONEY on replacing it...with another $99.oo suit just like it, usually black, and not in a good way like Tommy Lee Jones in “Men In Black”.) goes through all the methods for trying to pry as much money from a customer as possible. “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If they’re in your store, they are there to buy. If they don’t purchase, then YOU have not done your job properly.”

SLIGHT DIGRESSION. (Dissolve to Teeritz lying on couch in psychiatrist’s office.)

I suppose, Doctor, it all goes back to that time when I was looking for a shirt...

Flashback to circa 1989; I walked into a menswear store in the city. I did a casual lap of the store. And then...

Salesguy--“Hi, what are you after?”

Me--“Oh, just looking.”

Salesguy--“Oh yeah. What are you looking for?”

Me--“I dunno, shirts maybe.”

About six minutes later, I was standing in front of a full length mirror as the salesguy threaded an alligator-skin belt through the loops on the trousers of the double-breasted suit that I had on. The only clothes of my own that I was still wearing were my shoes, socks and underwear. Now, I knew I wasn’t going to buy this outfit, but I felt bad that he’d gone to so much trouble to get me a shirt, tie and suit (and belt) to try on. But I felt mad at myself for not being firmer with the salesguy when he raced off to get the suit off the rack.

I decided on two things that day- One, I would be a little more definite in future when I say to sales staff “I’m just browsing, thanks.”
And Two, I was never going to be that kind of salesperson if I ever wound up working in retail. That salesguy is now a millionaire with his own line of clothing boutiques. Truth be told, he’s a nice guy and I have dealt with him when he’s come into my store to look at watches. No hard feelings, he was just doing his job. His method worked for him, but I’ve never wanted to be a pushy salesperson.

So anyway, back to the sales training. Yes, they emphasise a high level of service (for a while, anyway), but it’s really only designed to close a sale. It’s not genuine. And one more thing- if this sales training is so slick, then that would mean that ANY store that implements it must be making a killing. In reality, three to six months later, whatever you’ve learned in those training sessions has worn off, or your competitors are shaving an extra ten percent off their stock and all the training in the world can’t win against a cheaper product elsewhere.


MURPHY’S LAW #3 (sometimes)

The more expensive the watch, the greater the chance that it will come back with a problem under warranty. Not always, but it does happen. Some customers equate ‘expensive’ with ‘indestructable’ and they are surprised when their $15,000.oo watch stops working on the golf course.

Not only that, but they are usually quite shocked to hear that the service cost on their watch will be in the neighbourhood of $1,200-$1,500. “It’s like having a Mercedes-Benz strapped to your wrist, pal! It’s not a Ford Escort. It WILL be pricier to maintain than a TAG Heuer or a Longines.”

I could probably understand if this was twenty years ago, in the age before the internet, but nowadays there is such a wealth of information out there about wristwatches that there really is no excuse for not gaining a little prior knowledge about a product you intend to buy. Especially if you’re shelling out ten or fifteen grand. Sir.


Actually, there was one lady who ruined my whole week once. Some folks can just be plain childish. She didn’t like the fact that I’d told her that her watch would not be repaired under warranty without the actual warranty card being sent off with the watch. Standard procedure.

“I don’t like what you said, I want to speak with the manager.”
What did I do?

The manager came over and accepted the watch without the card. In the end, I wrote down on the repair card that the warranty card had been “lost in a house fire.” Might as well go all out. But I had a bad taste in my mouth about having to be sneaky about it. So remember, kids, always bring your warranty card in.
And please, don't anybody get on here and tell me that old line about "The customer is always right." That phrase was first coined back around 1915.


Most Sales Reps think that their brand was the first to do ANYTHING.

“Oh, this Brand X copied our design. Look at the hands. They’re like the ones on our TimeTeller 3000.”

Me-“No, actually, their hands are based on a model that they released in 1955. It’s all been done before.”

Some of them pretend not to hear me.

“Yeah, they copied our design. Yeah.”


Go ahead and buy off the web if you want. There are reputable dealers out there, like Ace. But there are also some pretty shady ones too. You guys (and gals) reading this already know this. I’m talking more to those of you out there who want to come into my store and ask me why my price is more expensive than
www.reelswisswochez.com. How do I know? I have more important crap floating around in my head at any given time. But if you buy your watch off the web from a less than legitimate dealer and something goes wrong with it AND you then bring it to me to send off for warranty repairs, I’m gonna give you the cold hard facts regarding courier fee (for me to send it off) and cost of repair. And don’t even think of calling me in two weeks to ask how your repair is going. It’ll come back when it comes back. And don’t worry. I’ll be polite when I deal with you, but you don’t care about good service. You only care about price. That’s why you bought off this shifty website to begin with. Are we clear?


A guy brought his Breitling for Bentley Tourbillon into my store to get a spring-bar replaced. On closer inspection, I had determined that his watch was a fake. I mentioned this to him.

He took a step back, put his hands on his hips and said ; “How can you tell?”, an edge of hostility in his voice.

'Here we go', I thought to myself.

“Well, this cutaway window in the dial is where the tourbillion cage would be, but, from what I can see, this is just the mainspring spinning back-and-forth. Also, the bridge of the tourbillion should be slightly angled, but on your watch, it’s straight.”

He wasn’t convinced. Time to get the catalogue.

I took him over to the Breitling display and grabbed a copy of the Master catalogue.

Now, I should point out that some of the other staff I worked with would hate to have to tell a customer that their watch was fake. They don’t want to embarrass them. I have often said that it would be worse for the customer if they were at a party and some smart-alecky WIS looked at their watch and announced loudly “It’s fake!” Or, years later, they take it to their watchmaker to get it serviced and they find out then. Maybe I’m wrong.

Back to this guy- He told me that he paid fifteen thousand dollars for the watch from a jeweller in Virginia whom his family had dealt with for twenty years.

Ah yes, down in ol’ Virginny. The fake watch capital of the world. I told the guy that perhaps the jeweller didn’t know himself that it was fake.

I told him that if this were a genuine Breitling Tourbillon, it would probably be worth a hundred and fifteen thousand dollars.
I turned the watch over and there was further proof . Engraved on the case-back were the words “Certified Chronometer”. Only problem was that the letter ‘t’ in ‘chronometer’ was not crossed, so it looked like an ‘l’. Not the kind of mistake that you’d expect to find on a 100k Breitling wristwatch.
I explained this to him.

“Are you sure about this?”, he asked me.

“Yes I am. But if you want absolute certainty, do you get up to Sydney at all?”

“Actually, I’m going there next Monday.”

“Okay, Breitling’s Head Office is there, I’ll give you their address.”

And I wrote it down. I reiterated to him that I hated to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d rather he found out early instead of discovering this years later.

I almost said that the only legitimate part of that watch was the spring-bar that I had installed, but why add further misery to his day?

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  1. M. Montaigne's Avatar
    More! I'd imagine that taking the watch to Breitling would mean that they confiscate the watch as a fake and potentially destroy it.
  2. bacari's Avatar
    Another great blog post! Very entertaining. As someone who has been conducting sales trainings for years, I'm sorry to hear of your experiences. Smile.
  3. OTGabe's Avatar
    Great stuff, Teeritz! I really enjoyed both of these.
  4. jsw41's Avatar
    These blog posts are great. You have a way with words.

  5. Teeritz's Avatar
    @ M. Montaigne, one of my fellow staff-members once sent a quartz Navitimer in to have the battery changed. Breitling DOESN'T MAKE a quartz Navitimer. Their service department sent it back to us (unrepaired, natch) with a note rapping us over the knuckles for not knowing this. I knew it, but nobody checked with me before sending it off.

    @ bacari, when the Sales Trainer walked in and started his seminar by saying; "Why anybody would pay more than two or three hundred dollars for a watch is beyond me", I knew I was in for a hard time.

    Thanks for the comments, all.
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