Let’s face it. Sometimes the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a luxury watch can seem a little foolish. Today, counterfeit watches are big business and many of them look virtually identical to the real thing. In fact, without opening the case, some experts have been routinely fooled into believing a fake watch was real. So is there anything wrong with buying a replica watch? We think so, and here are fifteen reasons why.
Today, we have a very special article that I really meant to have written up and posted last week. While the vast majority of RWI’s uniqueness is bundled up in its community, a large part of that community is the collection of trusted dealers who are exactly what the title implies: dealers that are a trusted part of RWI.
One problem with buying replica watches from places like DHGate or AliExpress is that you never quite know whether or not you’ll receive anything at all, let alone exactly what was described on the page that you ordered. RWI’s trusted dealers, on the other hand, are explicitly trusted to fulfill your order, give equivalent value, or provide a refund. Furthermore, RWI’s help desk is available (to RWI members!) to help mediate issues that may arise when dealing with the trusted dealers.
This is the first of a very special series of articles I’m hoping to be able to produce regularly.
Ryan was gracious enough to give me a few hours of his time to chat with him on WhatsApp; due to the format of the interview, I’ve taken some liberties with the presentation (but not the facts!) to make it a little more readable. He was also very kind in taking several pictures that I’ve been allowed to share with you — perhaps the first pictures of a TD’s office that have been made public with RWI.
Enjoy, and I hope this reveals a little about the people on the other side of the screen!
Ryan was born in Hong Kong — of course his real name isn’t Ryan, but many people in the Chinese school system choose English names either as a part of their education or on their own. Even so, he’s used it for over 20 years, so it might as well be!
I have always loved watches, especially the luxury brands, but I couldn’t afford gens, so collecting high quality rep watches gradually turned into my hobby . . . Thanks to the RWI team, and TB [trailboss99] especially, I got the incredible opportunity to be part of the RWI family and do all I can in order to help watch lovers from all over the world have easy and smooth access to the best reps in the world.
Watches are a big part of our lives and hobbies, so it’s no surprise to find that it’s the same for Ryan, who became interested in watches at 25. Like many of us, he could not afford the pieces he was most interested in and instead, found reps — his first watch was an Explorer II 16570 (black dial), quite nostalgic for many!
Through his purchase of reps to fuel his hobby, he became close friends with many of the high-end factories, most especially MK, JF, and ZF; he especially loved them because they buy the genuine watches for replication, which he appreciated as a watch lover. His closeness to the factories led to him entering the replica watch industry as a dealer about 10 years ago.
After becoming a dealer, Ryan came to appreciate the makers in a different light; many factories had bad after-service, but MK, JF, and ZF would repair faulty watches. Even today, his relationship with ZF remains quite good.
For example, some members at RWI have spoken up about QC failures on ZF’s part requiring TDs to exchange watches frequently, especially IWC models. Ryan is aware of the issue and has been talking to ZF about improving their QC process to help everyone. In addition, Ryan revealed that not only is he aware of the Blancpain reps from ZF that are coming out, but he is also aware of some unannounced pieces that should generate a lot of excitement soon!
When I asked why he doesn’t create threads to highlight his involvement with ZF — like his good friend Angus (of PureTime) has — to share information with RWI, Ryan demurred, saying that he prefers to stay out of the limelight and focus on selling good replicas and providing solid service to RWI instead of spending time as a publicist for factories.
I’m a watch enthusiast. I like to study the detail of the watches and love it when I get a chance to start my own Franken watch projects. So that often puts me on the side of a watch buyer too. As a buyer, I totally understand what the customers could be thinking (moreover, many of them do not keep it for themselves and share their fears with me). Usually the biggest fear is spending a few hundred to purchase a watch from abroad without ever receiving their timepiece. However, I take pride in never having a customer pay for a watch but not receive one. Even in cases of customs seizure or couriers losing the package, I send a full refund or offer a free replacement . . . I really think it is important when anyone orders from me, they will get a watch no matter what — no matter what mistake the shipping company makes or whether customs seizes the package!
As a part of luxury4ubest’s service, he has come up with a subtly clever shipping system to avoid customs problems for many American customers; however, he asked me to not reveal the details here lest other TDs copy his idea. For now, know that even though most trusted dealers (including luxury4ubest) will redeliver or refund in the event of a customs seizure, luxury4ubesthas a system to reduce the number of seizures — it has proven incredibly effective by the numbers he revealed to me.
Ryan is as customer-focused as he is watch-focused and revealed that some of his favorite moments from work are when customers come back after delivery and thank him, or mention his service on the forum.
Unfortunately, being a trusted dealer isn’t all good service and piles of money — there are also many down sides to being a dealer.
One of the worst, he said, was quality control (QC). An all-to-common occurrence is that the factory provides a watch that is not up to his and luxury4ubest’s personal QC standards, so luxury4ubestis forced to exchange it; this can happen several times before they receive a watch that they feel is good enough to present to the customer.
While luxury4ubest rejects watches directly from the factory, the customer often feels slighted because their order is taking so long. Customers should understand that many times, delays in order fulfillment are happening due to unavoidable delays caused by the desire to provide top-tier service.
Another common problem is when unhappy customers seem to blackmail him by asking for free replacements or discounts by saying that they’ll post negative reviews — it’s a bunch of bad feeling for nothing since Ryan will always replace brand-new watches or repair broken ones as a part of his after-service. He keeps in contact with three watchsmiths who can perform repairs when a factory refuses to do so, ensuring that he can provide the repair service to his customers.
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One reason he is confident enough to offer this level of service is that he has a hand in each and every single order that his company processes, especially in QC. When he sees potential issues, he gives advice directly to the QC department so that they can improve their performance.
However, as a replica dealer, luxury4ubest has problems of another nature.
. . . the Chinese government has become more aggressive in raiding the rep factories and dealers now, and it’s getting worse day by day.
luxury4ubest tries to not keep stock on hand due to government raids. They average over 300 pieces on hand at a given time. These are not watches that have been stocked for sale, but watches from canceled orders or unreturnable QC rejections.
For example, one customer rejected EIGHT watches in a row that were unreturnable, meaning that luxury4ubest then had eight of that watch in stock ! However, Ryan said that the actual rejections and having to keep watches in stock didn’t matter to him; the worst part was that the customer then decided that he didn’t like the watch and canceled his order.
There isn’t much warning when a raid starts; usually the police will begin by raiding lower-end rep dealers in the watch market, so as soon as luxury4ubest hears about a raid, they begin packing up their office.
As you can see, their office is quite sparse. When they receive word of a police raid, the employees cannot simply run away — they have to pack up the laptops and stock and move to another location as quickly as possible.
Though nobody from luxury4ubest has been caught yet, they work under constant pressure every day knowing that the government is increasing the number of raids. When I asked if it had become necessary to try to bribe the police to evade raids, Ryan said that it had not — touch wood.
I have very high rate of return customers because I have a good system to keep buyers happy. Usually, the main issues are the watch not working or shipment issues. Shipment issues are easy to fix. Watch issues, I always try to repair the watch for free . . . or maybe offer a premium price to get new parts installed.
Despite the dangers and difficulties, Ryan prides himself on being able to constantly provide top-tier service to his customers. So the next time you’re interested in buying a rep, consider looking through his catalog. If you’re an RWI member, you can find more information about his site and specials in his subforum.
This is the first in what I hope will become a series of interviews with our trusted dealers. If you have any comments on this article, please post in the thread on the forum so that Ryan can see — even if he doesn’t post much, he does keep tabs on the forums.
Being able to show that these articles are being read will make it easier for me to do more interviews with other trusted dealers, so let me know what you thought and if there are any questions you’d like to see answered in the future!