The Watch Site banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Not sure if you guys picked this up last month - Swatch group has decided to cease supplying spare parts wholesale from December 2015.

Reported on Cousins.co.uk

'Swatch Group advise Cousins that the supply of watch parts is to totally cease after December 2015, this will affect all brands including Omega, Tissot, Certina, Rado, CK and Longines.'

I'm aware there are many other swiss watchmakers undertaking this practice and trying to make it the standard but still - utterly despicable.

What do you all think of this trend?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
I think that they should be told where to get off by their own Government and, if that doesn't happen, the EU should start re-thinking the bilateral agreements with them for allowing such blatantly restrictive trade practices.

I also think that there should be a HUGE international advertising campaign to bring to the attention of prospective buyers the fact that they'll effectively be tied into the maker's service network and be held to ransom on repair costs. sadly, i can't afford to run such a campaign :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
This affects the whole industry. Independent watchmakers will be forced out of business, and are already in decline. The Swiss will charge what they want for servicing, take as long as they want (and already do) and If you don't like it, they don't care. Rolex is the same. They won't touch anything over twenty years old.
It's the main reason I have no interest in Swiss watches any more. If I was going to get a European watch, it would be a Nomos. They still seem to have some respect for the buyer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
I bet some clone manufacturer is going to make some nice business afterthat.
There is that.

More to the point, non-Swatch Swiss companies with better attitudes are probably still capable of providing pattern parts (Ronda virtually built their business on staffs and stems!) and the Chinese are more than happy to copy anything there's a demand for.

The things it'll really affect are obviously branded parts like crowns, where copyright will prevent the branding being applied. So the Omega owner who loses a crown will now be faced with an unsigned replacement or paying for a full factory-price service "because it's been opened, Sir" if they want to retain the squiggle.

It could potentially backfire badly on them given time......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
It could potentially backfire badly on them given time......
I have thought the same thing. It all depends on how badly someone wants a name brand watch and what they are prepared to put up with in terms of after sales service.
You would think after the quartz crisis they would be more responsive to changes in the market, not just restricting and suffocating the industry. It will be interesting to see what the next decade holds...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
It's a shame that allowing companies to continue this trend impacts the whole industry, not least of which being the effective restriction of a skilled craft.

For a company like Swatch, who have been allowed to grow and now control 60% of the domestic swiss watch market, their reasoning that it is wrong for smaller makers to continue to rely on the ETA movement sounds rather flat.

Granted, research and development requires reinvestment of capital that could otherwise be distributed elsewhere, but at the end of the day you still have the market in your pocket... and can keep them there very effectively.

I can appreciate that the profits offered via the service channel are going to be attractive for a watch manufacturer, but the constant reports of unnecessary work (parts replacements, etc) being forced on customers seems a pretty unethical way to generate them.

Inaction from the trade commission is also unforgivable I think - surely deserves some attention from potential antitrust actions at the very least.

The list of companies restricting parts in this way is getting pretty long now:
Vacheron Constantin
Lange Sohne
Cartier
Panerai
Piaget
Lancel Paris
Van Cleef & Arpel
Monblanc
Chloe Paris
Roger Dupuis
Breguet
Blancpain
Glashütte Original
Jaquet Droz
Léon Hatot
Omega
Tiffany & Co.
Longines
Rado
Union Glashütte
Tissot
ck watch & jewelry
Balmain
Certina
Mido
Hamilton
Swatch
Flik Flak
Endura
Tourbillon
Audemars Piguet
Chopard
Dunhill
Bertolucci
Ebel
Hublot
Bulgary
Lange Sohne
Breitling


Tiresome...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
I can appreciate that the profits offered via the service channel are going to be attractive for a watch manufacturer, but the constant reports of unnecessary work (parts replacements, etc) being forced on customers seems a pretty unethical way to generate them.

Tiresome...
This went to court recently in Australia and the ruling was that the companies may only carry out the work specified by the client, so the days of having to pay for a complete overhaul when all you wanted was a new stem are thankfully gone. It makes me appreciate the fact I can buy Seiko parts myself. For now. Who knows what the future holds?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
This went to court recently in Australia and the ruling was that the companies may only carry out the work specified by the client, so the days of having to pay for a complete overhaul when all you wanted was a new stem are thankfully gone.
Not if this goes ahead.

They can simply get round that ruling by refusing to do any work other than full services, on the grounds that a lost stem will have allowed contamination in. No-one can force them to do a repair that isn't on the menu.

If you have a choice of accepting the repairs they offer or not having the watch repaired because the only people with access to the parts actually needed only do full services then you're effectively back to square one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
I guess all we can hope for then is that consumers aren't fooled by slick marketing, see the actual financial outlay beyond the purchase and take their money elsewhere. One can only hope..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
The thing is, unless they're told, consmers won't hear about this until it's too late. Then they'll be hit by two effects:

(1) They'll be held to ransom by the official repair network when they need service

(2) As word of that spreads, they'll find that the second hand value of their watches drops considerably - a lot of people in the used market will NOT buy into things where the service charges are fixed at Main Stealer levels!

If I had the money I'd be tempted to take out a few adverts in the Sunday mags (preferably opposite any Swatch Group watch ones) as a public service announcement :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,973 Posts
My mate has been drooling over an expensive Swiss watch for ages but now has been put off by the spares/servicing situation. I told him about it and it makes buying a used watch from an auction a liability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
Not if this goes ahead.

They can simply get round that ruling by refusing to do any work other than full services, on the grounds that a lost stem will have allowed contamination in. No-one can force them to do a repair that isn't on the menu.

If you have a choice of accepting the repairs they offer or not having the watch repaired because the only people with access to the parts actually needed only do full services then you're effectively back to square one.
Joe, it looks like you were right.

I quote the following from a newsletter I received today. It's regarding a Swiss brand:

Couple days ago, H. had a small accident and as a result he broke one of the pushers on his lovely watch.
Not a big deal really, accidents happen to even most careful watch owners.



He took his watch to brand name service centre (which is not to be named) requesting a pusher replacement. Again, not a big deal – the new pusher could be installed in less than 30 minutes and would only require minor intervention. A routine repair for any skilled watchmaker.



Unfortunately, the big brand name service centre had a different opinion:
a pusher replacement is not possible UNLESS they undergo a complete overhaul.
Which would cost $650 and would take 3-6 months to complete.



Little did help explaining that the watch still keeps good time, and that H does not wish to proceed with major overhaul. The service centre was unmoved:



“Please note according to [brand name] guideline, we have to give 1 year international warranty for the service performed on the timepiece. In this particular case, the pusher has gone missing and condition of the mechanism requires service. We can not only replace the pusher without looking after the movement. We remain on your entire disposal of any further information or request.”



It took me few minutes to calm my customer down. And no, I am not going to smash his watch into pieces – I am a watchmaker, not a watch breaker.
I also promised to do my best to help him get the watch repaired.



You see, it’s really simple.



If your car needs a new brake pads, and maker’s service centre conditions your request for a specific repair with “$200 for pads and $5000 for engine overhaul ” then you would tell them to get lost. You are free to take YOUR car to any honest and reputable mechanic who will do what needs to be done and charge fairly for parts and labour.



Yet in case of watches, somehow, many brand names BELIEVE that they are above the Australian Consumers Law. First they’ve stopped to supply the spare parts to competition and independent watchmakers. And now, as they are the only source of spares, they can take the FULL ADVANTAGE to bundle service as they are pleased.



This morning, I’ve had yet another conversation with manager of this particular brand. I’ve explained that restriction of spares to create monopoly on the market is against the consumer’s law. And that requesting watch owner to pay for unnecessary or unwanted service is against every consumer right. He argued that he is requested to respect brand’s GUIDELINE.



But a brand – any brand for that matter – is no bigger than law of the land. I reminded him that in Australia, his corporation is kindly allowed to operate business under certain conditions.



But my point was this: why create a bad publicity for a brand by refusing to offer BASIC service to your loyal customer? Do we really need a Consumers Tribunal to arbitrate over such a trivial matter? We ae not begging for a free repair – my client is more than happy to pay full amount for a specifically requested service.



But the brand’s service manager made his decision and he wouldn’t budge:



“I have customers here, you’ve made your point, but I am not going to waste any more time on you.”



As I type this letter, H’s watch is ticking quietly on my desk – minus one small pusher which cost $3 to manufacture.



I have promised him that I will do whatever I can do to help his watch fixed, no matter how long it takes, how much it cost or how hard we have to fight the bastards. And yes, I do have few big sledge hammers on my disposal.



Two years ago, Fair Trading Tribunal of NSW made a ruling that monopolist watch brand MUST provide specific service as per customers request without forcing upon unwanted or additional repair. But it looks that others haven’t learnt much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,820 Posts
Joe, it looks like you were right.

I quote the following from a newsletter I received today. It's regarding a Swiss brand:


Its not just the brand guideline its the scumbag manager "I am not going to waste any more time on you.”
What an arrogant way to deal with anyone:mad:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
507 Posts
...and so it goes on...

More developments:
(ACCC = Australian Consumer Complaints Commission)
*** Who owns your watch? Part 2.

"Xxxx - I have had this exact same experience with two service centers in Sydney,
both watches purchased originally from you and both needing minor attention - the watch exactly in the same situation
as your customer with a pusher missing. I was relatively lucky - only $500 and six weeks.....
Do you think there is anything we can do with the ACCC if we form a group action?
Regards R."

This is one of many letters received last week in response to the issue of 'bundling service' wherein
a watch service centre, a monopolist, forces you, the watch owner, to undertake repair / service
you have not requested.

A couple of years ago, the independent watchmakers of Australia submitted their complaint to the ACCC pointing out the obvious:
by restricting the supply of spare parts, watch brands are behaving like monopolists.
The first victim are watchmakers: no parts, no business, loss of skills.
The second victim is the consumer: with no competition, repair prices will skyrocket.

In its wisdom, the ACCC conducted an amateurish investigation into the matter and washed their hands,
concluding that the case will remain open until the outcome of the European Court (in the similar matter) will be known.

By taking no firm action, the ACCC basically gave permission to Swiss Brands to get rid of watchmakers.
And the brands took full advantage of the inaction declaring that the 'no parts policy' is there to protect YOU
from incompetent watchmakers.
And by 'incompetent' they mean ALL watchmakers - including those who were Brand Authorized Service agents for many years.

So the watchmakers got screwed by both the ACCC and oSwiss brands.

Ironically, today, even the crappiest of all Swiss brands are now restricting supply of parts.

So what's next? Here is an email from a German watch spare parts supplier, sent out to account holders:

"June 2014.
Dear customers,

we have been notified by OMEGA SA, a subsidiary of the Swatch Group, that the supply of OMEGA spare parts will be terminated
entirely to all parts wholesalers globally and therefore to us as well end of December 2015.
OMEGA spare parts are no longer available for free watchmakers, collectors and enthusiasts beyond this date.

What does this mean for you?

From 01.01.2016 you are no longer free in choosing your watchmaker.
You will not be able to determine who is trustworthy to repair your precious watch.
You will only have the option to send it to the local Omega repair center for repair or to hire a certified Omega watchmaker.
This OMEGA certified watchmaker was forced to pay a lot of money for his certification.
Sure that you might be a victim of some kind of price cartel then.

Should you repair your watches by yourself from that date on you will no longer be able to obtain
the necessary spare parts in the free trade like before. The distribution policy of OMEGA will prevent
all delivery of spare parts to you and others who have not been certified by OMEGA.

Help us to prevent this situation and leave your comment to this topic. We will forward your comments to OMEGA SA.

Sincerely,
Ernst Westphal."

By the way, Ernst Westphal co. has been in the watch spares business since 1898. Just for the record.
Unfortunately, he naively believes that "Omega Certified watchmakers" would still be able to obtain
parts beyond January 2016. Well, perhaps this would be the case in Germany, but highly unlikely in Australia.
And forwarding a comment to Omega would be total waste of time: they know exactly what they doing
and what effect such restriction will cause.

But I predicted this 2 years ago, so this is hardly a surprise to anyone who is a subscriber to my newsletter.

What I hadn't predicted is the aggressiveness and pure rudeness of Swiss brands who are now
arrogantly pushing the boundaries of Australian Consumers law.

As a consumer, you have lost ALL your rights to have your watch repaired by a third party
AND you no longer have a say as to which repairs/services are to be undergone by the Brands Service Centres either!
It is all determined on your behalf (at the price determined by the Brand).
Don't like the price / service / turnaround time? Be screwed! We've shafted the watchmakers,
we'll screw you too.

Make no mistake - there is no corporation in this world whose ultimate goal is not to become
a monopolist- the only source of both the product and aftermarket service. That is precisely why we have the ACCC-
to keep the bastards honest.
However, an individual consumer or a bunch of watchmakers are not powerful enough to stop
such behaviour. But a large group of consumers lodging a complaint and pointing out the obvious
should at least be able to get the ACCC's attention.

ACCC states that it's role and purpose is;

"...Making markets work for consumers, now and in the future. Our role is to protect,
strengthen and supplement the way competition works in Australian markets and industries
to improve the efficiency of the economy and to increase the welfare of Australians.
This means we will take action where this improves consumer welfare, protects competition or stops
conduct that is anti-competitive or harmful to consumers, and promotes the proper functioning of Australian markets."

It doesn't say: ACCC's role is to ensure that Swiss Watch Brands can do whatever they are pleased to
maximise their profit at the cost of Australian consumers. It doesn't say that ACCC is put in place to
protect and strengthen Swiss monopoly in Australia. The ACCC role to protect YOU.

One thing we have learned from past dealings with ACCC: even a relatively small number of
individual complaints will have much larger impact than a large number of complaints lodged together.

For those who are new here, I suggest this video, produced in Sydney:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaJvmQtoVjs
If you have a watch, then you should watch it.

For those who asked: can we re-engineer and manufacture watch pushers? The answer is yes,
even with my very limited experience in watch parts manufacturing, that would be relatively easy.
However it would be a clear breach of copyright and I would be accused of supplying aftermarket parts,
so no, this is not going to happen. As said before, that part WILL be supplied by it's maker, no matter what.

And finally, many of you requested that I 'name and shame' watch brands which are taking full advantage of
monopolistic status: that is not going to happen either- I'll leave that pleasure to ACCC.

To summarize: if you believe that you are forced to accept a repair quote for unwanted or unnecessary service then do send your complaint to ACCC.

We LOVE our watches, horological heritage, skills, workmanship and the sentimental and practical value they represent.
And rest assured: most founding Swiss watchmakers who worked hard for centuries to build their brands
would have never approve such a shameful and disrespectful act of modern corporate greed.
If the Japanese decide to go down the same path, we're screwed.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top