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Vintage & Antique
Watch Repair

Do You Truly Own Your Watch?

What the Swiss watch industry doesn't want you to know

When you purchased your watch, was there a disclosure along with the warranty, or did you receive a disclosure from the sales person? This would be a disclosure telling you that any periodic service or repair your watch may require for the proper functioning of the watch must be performed by that brand’s service center.

If your watch is one of the brands on this list, then what is outlined on this page is basically that brand’s policy. Be aware that not every brand with these sorts of restrictive policies appears on the list. You must inquire at the time of purchase.

The brand's service center will reserve the right to decide for you what sort of service and repair your watch requires and what the cost of that service or repair will be. You may wish to have only a simple repair. For example, you may wish to have a new crystal fitted or to have the bracelet repaired. The service center will likely specify that additional work must be performed in order for any work to be performed. An estimate will be given to you, and your options are either to pay the requested amount or to have your watch returned unrepaired.

In all likelihood, no such disclosure has been given to you; nevertheless, you will be subjected to these basic described policies. Will you be able to take your watch to an independent watch repairer? No, because the manufacturer will only furnish repair parts to their factory service center.

Companies, by restricting the distribution of replacement parts needed for the proper service and repair of your watch, have successfully monopolized the service and repair of their watches by denying independent repairers access to repair parts.

Because of these monopolistic policies, you may not really own your watch; you have essentially leased it, and you are responsible to pay whatever maintenance costs the manufacturer imposes or lose the use of your watch.

In the years to come, it is possible that the manufacturer will declare your watch obsolete. At that point, you may as well toss the watch in the sock drawer, because repair parts will have never been distributed outside the factory, and so they will be virtually unobtainable.

In past years, parts were distributed to independent watchmakers through watch material suppliers. As a result of this past distribution system, when there is the need for a vintage watch repair part, these parts will often be found in the stock of a material supplier, or perhaps in the drawer of an independent watchmaker. In many instances, these obsolete parts can, with a bit of effort, be obtained. With the newer watches and the restrictive parts policies, there will be no stocks of parts to call on should you wish to take the watch to an independent repairer after it has been declared obsolete by the manufacturer.

If you have purchased one of these listed brands, you are now at the mercy of that company, and they may not even had the courtesy to properly inform you of their policies.

The Federal Trade Commission wishes to hear from you to correct this unlawful practice. Let them know this is unacceptable; when you purchase a watch, as with any other product, you should be able to decide its needs and who should take care of the servicing or repair of it.

Send your complaint to:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20580       
Ref. No. 27462283