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The OMEGA Museum Collection #4
Ref. 5703.30.01, introduced 2003, limited to 1915 pieces
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OMEGA Consumer Alert

Warnings of issues you should know about when shopping for OMEGA watches

  1. Sources of confusing information.
  2. Cautions for dealing with watch and jewelry sales people.
  3. Cautions for specific auction houses and for sale boards.
  4. New watch dealers with questionable policies.
  5. What about rare or collectible OMEGA watches I see for sale?

Sources of confusing information

Shopping for an OMEGA watch can be an excellent experience. But as with any expensive luxury item, there are pitfalls to watch out for. Use these Consumer Alerts below along with the Chronocentric Buyer's Guide to become knowledgable about watch buying before you make your purchase.

Also, understand that even the official sources of information such as the manufacturer and their authorized dealer network do not always give you the complete, clear or correct details you need to know to find what you want and make a properly informed purchase decision.

dealer name type consumer alert details
OMEGA Official Web Site
www.omega.ch
Authorized
Official Web Site
CONFUSING: The Official OMEGA web site is an excellent source for information on their watches. But be aware that while it shows many of the hundreds of different models they sell, it is not a 100% complete catalog of all current and still-available-in-stores models. This can cause consumers to mistakenly believe some models don't exist because they do not see them there OR believe a watch to be a fake because it is not shown on the official site. Also, the site shows some models and options (like bracelets) that may not be available in your country.
OMEGA Authorized Dealers Authorized
Official Dealers
CONFUSING: Many surprisingly lacking in adequate product knowledge. In particular, consumers that have visited the official OMEGA web site and other reputable sources of information may know of models, options and accessories that the authorized dealers are uninformed of. See the section below on Moronic Watch Salespeople.
Unauthorized Dealers of OMEGA Watches Gray Market CONFUSING: Unauthorized dealers of OMEGA watches may provide confusing information on both their lack of official status with OMEGA and the nature of the warranty coverage they offer. Many such dealers may be authorized for only some of the brands they sell. Always ask whether they are an authorized for the specific brand you are buying. Also, make sure you understand who is providing the warranty coverage for your watch. If they are not an authorized dealer, then the manufacturer and any other authorized dealers with have nothing to do with your warranty coverage.
Gripe, Smear and Vengeance Web Sites Individual Person on the Internet MISLEADING: Occasionally an unhappy customer of a product will post an anti-company propaganda web site to harass the company--often out of vengeance or a 'pay me off to shut me up' motive. Despite a lot of emotional wording, these crusades attempting to scare customers away from the company's products are seldom based on anything more than an isolated case of customer confusion or mishandled customer service. Some continue to post disparaging information long after the issue was amicably resolved with the dealer or manufacturer.

Cautions for dealing with watch and jewelry sales people

There are many highly informed watch and jewelry sales people out there to help you. But sadly, there are also many who are generic commission sales employees that have little to no knowledge or interest in what they are selling--only in the commission they receive if they can convince you to buy something. Many were selling burgers and fries last month and will be selling shoes next month. These non-watch experienced sales people often attempt to act like experts and frequently guess or give completely false, made up and inane answers to your questions.

The danger for the consumer is that, if you do not know much about fine watches, then you may not be able to tell if the sales person you are interacting with is a knowledgable watch professional or just trying to sound like one and hoping you won't know enough to tell the difference. Even on very basic information any watch seller should know about any watch--such as the difference between a battery-operated quartz watch and a mechanical one--these non-watch professionals may be totally clueless and provide dangerously incorrect information about the features, operation or care of your watch.

Here are some classic examples from actual interaction with sales people at Authorized OMEGA Dealers that we've experienced or had reported:

  • Described the upper left crown on the Seamaster Pro as the "chronometer button" used to activate the chronometer feature.(It is a helium relief valve. 'Chronometer' is a certified status, not a mechanical feature.)
  • Described the process of testing the water resistance of a watch as removing the watch's movement and sinking the case in water. (The actual process typically uses a much safer air pressure test chamber.)
  • Sales person reported the store had no OMEGA DeVille watches in stock, even after checking with the store manager. (There were six in the case right in front of her.)

So do not assume that the person behind the counter--even at authorized dealers--knows what they are talking about until you can verify the information from a reliable source.


Cautions for specific auction houses and for sale boards

Auction sites and for sale boards are places on the Internet where people meet and transact private sales. As such, you need to understand that the site you are dealing through has little to do with the sale. The actual transaction of whatever you buy is a person-to-person deal between you and the individual selling the merchandise. No site which aids you in finding the seller can guarantee a safe transaction, prevent fraud, or ensure you will not get questionable merchandise. But within those warnings, there are some interesting deals and mutually beneficial sales to be made.

service
name
location
and type
consumer alert details
eBay Internet
Auction Service
CAUTION: While eBay attempts to police and eliminate fake OMEGA watches posted on their auction site, unethical sellers and counterfeit merchandise still often get through. Attempt any dealings with eBay sellers with caution.
Yahoo! Auctions Internet
Auction Service
WARNING: Yahoo! Auctions is rampant with counterfeit OMEGA watches and unethical sellers. Attempt any dealings with Yahoo! Auction sellers with extreme caution.
ChronoTrader Sales Forum
ChronoTrader
Internet
For Sale Board
RECOMMENDED: ChronoTrader is Chronocentric's own watch sales area for readers to post watches for sale. Some experts monitor the forum and many regular individuals and reputable watch dealers sell watches there. While no person-to-person transaction coordinating forum can prevent fraud or questionable merchandise, this is by far one of the less risky places to find good private sales.
TimeZone Sales Corner
www.timezone.com
Internet
For Sale Board
RECOMMENDED: The TimeZone Sales Corner has a good reputation in the Internet watch lover's community. Similar to ChronoTrader, but open to all types of watches. A huge number of experts monitor the forum and many regular individuals and reputable watch dealers sell watches there.
Watch Paradise "Trading Paradise"
www.watchparadise.com
Internet
For Sale Board
RECOMMENDED: Fancier than the TimeZone Sales Corner or ChronoTrader, but less complex than an online auction, this watch resale forum is a also a lower-risk places to find good private sales.

New watch dealers with questionable policies

The following are sellers of OMEGA watches that are known to have practices and policies that Chronocentric believes are sufficiently questionable to warrant extra caution doing business with them. All of these are also Gray Market dealers, so are not under the control of OMEGA and not required to conduct their business dealings in accordance with the contractual standards enforced by OMEGA. See the Chronocentric article on Gray Market Watches for more detail.

business
name
location
and type
consumer alert details
Inventory
Adjusters
Internet
Gray Market
CAUTION: While they claim they sell only authentic products, the OMEGA watches they sell come without original boxes or papers. There is some confusion over whether the watches even have serial numbers. Their website provides an NON-SECURE online form for submitting credit card or bank wire transfer information with your order.
Time Of
Switzerland
Internet
Gray Market
CAUTION: Multiple unusual policies. "The warranty starts before shipment." Requires wire transfer payment or a fax of not only your credit card, but also your drivers license or passport. Watches delivered may bear a different dealer's name on their warranty cards.
Diamond.com,
Diamond Depot &
World Of Watches
Internet
Gray Market
CAUTION: Same business of "Odimo.com" or "Odimo Corporation" operating under multiple Internet identities. Also see serial number warnings below.
Ashford.com Internet
Gray Market
CAUTION: Prior to 2003, Ashford.com had an excellent reputation for delivering quality watches and providing good customer service. But at the end of 2002, they were bought out by "Odimo Corporation" and appear now to be operated essentially the same as Odimo Corporation's other online businesses (see previous warning above and serial number warnings below).
TheWatchGuide.nl Internet
Gray Market
CAUTION: This operation appears to be acting as an international broker of authorized watches. Essentially they wait until you order a watch, then 'work the system' to buy watches from dealers in countries where there are regional pricing differences, favorable currency exchange rates and depressed economics. Then they buy the watch from that local dealer/distributor and have it shipped to the buyer. So the watch you receive--while it may be from an authorized OMEGA dealer--could be from anywhere in the world. The warranty card will bear a different dealer's name on it that your purchase receipt proves you bought the watch from--a potential pitfall if the warranty card is not filled out properly or for any other reason OMEGA need to see your original receipt as proof of purchase or purchase date.

In addition to the issues above, the following unauthorized dealers are known to have recently been in the shady business practice of selling OMEGA watches with the serial numbers removed. This is an outrageous practice done to shield the dealer's distributor from being caught violating their contracts with OMEGA. This is done to protect them, and not only offers you no advantage but potentially exposes you to unnecessary risk. See What does it mean if the seller removes the serial number? for more details.

Almost always, the serial number removal is done so well that you would not know there ever had been one there. But use caution before being alarmed if you do not see a serial number on the back of your new OMEGA watch--on some models the number is so small that it may not be immediately obvious to the naked eye. For the OMEGA Seamaster Professional watches, see the Seamaster FAQ section Where is the Serial Number? for an illustration of its tiny serial number. You also will not find external serial numbers on older OMEGA watches. OMEGA did not put the serial numbers on the outsides of their watches until the late 1980's or early 1990's.

Gray Market Internet Dealers Known To Have Delivered Watches With Serial Numbers Removed
Dealer Their Fine Print
Ashford.com Starting December 2002, Ashford.com is under new ownership. Their policies starting that date are very different than they were previously. Prior to then, Ashford strongly avoided selling watches without serial numbers. But starting in 2003, their policy has changed to: "In order to provide you with the best possible savings on your watch purchase, our vendors must protect their sources of supply. For this reason, the serial number has been removed from certain of these new genuine brand name watches.." [Verified January 2003]
AuthenticWatches.com ""All TAG Heuer and OMEGA timepieces which do not have "with serial numbers" within their item description come with their serial numbers polished off."" [Verified March 2003]
Diamond.com "In order to provide you with the best savings on the Internet, our vendors must protect their sources of supply. For this reason, the serial number has been removed from certain of these new genuine brand name watches." [Verified April 2001]
Diamond Depot No stated policy on serial numbers posted on their web site. [Verified April 2001]
World Of Watches "In order to provide you with the best savings on the Internet, our vendors must protect their sources of supply. For this reason, the serial number has been removed from certain of these new genuine brand name watches." [Verified April 2001]
World Watches "We do not alter any watch but some of our suppliers do remove their identification number to protect their identity..." [Verified April 2001]

Chronocentric believes there is no justification for any legitimate business to engage in such a practice. Even worse is when consumers are not adequately informed. Even sites which do have disclaimers may word them to make this sound like a common business practice, or a step required by the manufacturer in order for certain dealer to offer greater discounts. Those are lies and misdirections. The suppliers of these altered watches are violating their contracts with OMEGA and may be violating national, state and local laws in removing these serial numbers.

Removal of serial numbers is not condoned by OMEGA or other watch manufacturers. Heavy discounting to consumers is not condoned by OMEGA and most other premium luxury product makers. It ruins their image as a premium brand and severely hurts their authorized dealers if their products are readily available at near wholesale to consumers.

If these gray market dealers are legitimate,
why must they remove serial numbers to obscure the sources of these watches
the way common thieves do when fencing stolen merchandise?

When evaluating any watch dealer, try to read all information they have posted online regarding warranty coverages and how to send a watch in for repair. If the seller states that the watch you buy must be returned to them, not the manufacturer for warranty service, then they are not an authorized seller for that brand. Further, it is usually in the warranty disclaimers that shady dealers may address the removal of serial numbers--if they mention it at all.

Understand that these sellers may change their policies at any time. Or they may do it for some watches and not others--even two of the same model may be different if they obtain them from different suppliers. To be removed from this list, a dealer must notify Chronocentric of a permanent change in policy or post on their site an updated policy statement declaring to all their customers that they deliver all new OMEGA watches with serial numbers intact.


What about rare or collectible OMEGA watches I see for sale?

OMEGA has made a number of rare and limited edition models that are now collectible. Some older models in excellent condition are also collectible because of their history or limited availability.

But particularly when buying through an Internet auction or in a private sale, make sure you get sufficient verification that the watch you are buying is really as rare or collectible as the seller claims. In particular, look out for:

  • Sellers claiming a watch is rare just to get buyers excited. Often these are very ordinary models.
  • Sellers claiming a watch (especially the Speedmaster 'Moon Watch') is a rare or special edition simply because it has extra inscriptions on the back. Many regular models of the Moonwatch bear an inscription.
  • Non-authentic collectibles, which are ones where an ordinary model has had parts replaced with those of or similar to a rarer model.
  • Counterfeit rare models. Even the OMEGA limited editions and skeleton watches have been replicated by the makers for cheap fake watches.
  • Vintage fakes, which are counterfeit OMEGA watches made back in the 1950's and 1960's that have aged enough that they look authentic and might be mistaken as a rare or obscure model.

So how can you tell for certain that a model is really rare? The best solution is to obtain the serial number and have OMEGA verify it as described under Tell Me About My OMEGA. Also check the Rogues Galleries of OMEGA Fakes for known counterfeit models. And as always, ask on the zOwie OMEGA Forum and visit the other reliable information sites on the Network of OMEGA Sites for further information.

Ultimately, if you do not have time to have a collectible verified before you have to make a purchase decision, you probably should pass on buying it. Any seller that has a truly authentic collectible should be willing and able to assist you in providing adequate documentation of its authenticity or allowing you to verify it yourself before consummating the sale.

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