It is not a secret that certain vigilant retailers of certain (exclusive) brands, for example Patek Philippe, take great care in selling desirable watches only to customers whom they trust. Meaning that these retailers trust that their customers will not immediately turn around and sell those same watches for a quick profit (i.e. “act like flippers”).
We know of a few retailers ourselves that will actively monitor the online sales channels, to see whether any of the watches they sold are then being flipped for an easy profit. If a customer is caught reselling the watch for a quick profit, said customer can forget ever getting another unicorn from those retailers.
However, it is quite interesting to hear from one such exclusive brand directly how they deal with the most dreaded beings that roam the watch community – the Flippers. In a (long) interview with the NY Times, Patek Philippe’s CEO Thierry Stern is crystal clear about his view on the situation.
Mr Stern explains in very clear terms that he likes Flippers about as much as he likes catching the flu. He further details that Patek in fact will buy back quite a lot of timepieces from the secondary market because “[they] want to know why a watch is for sale”. However, Mr Stern continues that in case a retailer is caught to be actively involved in these types of sales or if the retailer does not prevent such resales from taking place, Patek would very simply terminate the retailer’s account. Mr Stern is quoted as saying: ” “If I have the proof, then I act”.
One can only imagine what would happen if Rolex were to take a closer look at their network of retailers. But then, that would ruin the illusion of steel Rolex watches being rarer than hen’s teeth.
If you would like to understand more about the Watch Grey Market, please check out this previously published article and video which illustrates the concept.
For a view inside the look of his mind, have a look at the recent article published in the NY Times right here.