Although the saying “your network is your net worth” is generally considered trite I strongly believe that as watch traders, it not only highly-applicable but a motto we should all live by. However, there is one thing I would like to clarify; a watch trader’s “network” (and therefore net worth) isn’t defined necessarily by the number of connections, but rather the quality of the connections especially in four main categories – REAL Retail Clients, Wholesalers/Other Traders, Authorized Dealers (especially for high demand brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet), and Local Watchmakers/Jewelers.
In this article, I will discuss all these categories but I will mainly focus on the local Watchmakers/Jeweler relationship with the hopes of giving you some actionable tips to improve your relationship with this important category of your network.
REAL Retail Buyers
Even if you are new to the WTA community, by now you should realize the importance of retail buyers. This type of network connection is the holy grail of a watch trader’s network and, in my humble opinion, you really only need a handful of REAL retail buyers to have a solid 5-figure per month business. For example, at the time of writing this article (and less than a year into my watch trading journey), I only have about 4 REAL retail clients, but I seem to do about $20k per month in buy/sell/trade business with just these 4 individuals.
So you don’t confuse REAL retail buyers with the proverbial “tire-kickers” (someone will never buy anything from you or if they ever do, they will be a pain to deal with) or a fellow trader (later in the article, I will discuss more about these connections fit into the overall network), here are some characteristics that seem to be consistent with REAL retail buyer behaviors:
- They understand that YOU are adding value to the transaction say things like “I want to make sure that you get paid on the deal”
- They talk to you about things OTHER than just watches – family, food, other hobbies, interests – and invite you to participate in these other aspects of their lives… even if it’s just sending you a picture of the watch you sold them on their wrist or other the random “flex” picture
- They actually take your watch-related advice; rather than just telling you what watches they want to buy
- Overall, REAL retail buyers will see you as a professional and realize that you have special talents, training, and skills that they themselves do not possess
P.S. – Note there is also such a thing as real retail SELLERS that I may discuss in a future article 🙂
Wholesalers, Watch Dealers, and Other Traders
One of the biggest mistakes that I see many WTA members making is treating other Trader/Wholesalers as REAL retail buyers. Understandably so as it happens to me all the time (and I am sure it happens to you too) someone will reach out to me, inquiring about a watch I have for sale, and then after exchanging a few questions, I realize they are a member of the WTA community.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of value in cultivating relationships among fellow traders, but just realize the relationships are just categorically different. Generally, a watch trader/wholesaler is willing to buy your watch if they can get it at a low enough price to make money when they go to sell it. In other words, they are a watch reseller who is trying to steal your margin.
Again, there are benefits to creating and maintaining relationships with your peers in the industry, for example, other traders, wholesalers, and Dealers…
- Are willing to buy (almost) any watch at a price close to BCV.
- Can serve as “references” and vouch for you during watch transactions.
- Might allow you to broker or even consign inventory to you
- Can provide advice on everything from buy-bids, insight on how certain models sell, etc
But just remember, outside of the true friendship you may make with your peers, the typical relationship with other dealers can usually be categorized by the phrase “what have you done for me lately”. For your benefit, don’t confuse other traders as retail clients.
I won’t touch on the category too much in this article, but in general, Authorized Dealers (often referred to as “ADs” for short) can be great connections to have in your network, but you CAN build out a sustainable watch trading career without ever having a relationship with an AD.
The only real benefit that an AD relationship provides is the ability to get direct access to timepieces that sell over MSRP, and there are only a handful of models that meet these criteria.
Building a relationship with an AD can be pretty tricky (because the AD’s relationship with the manufacturers like Rolex, Patek, AP, can be at risk if it is found out that a watch they sold is available on the secondary market) but at its core, remember that you are building a relationship with a person and not necessarily a company. So the best tip I can provider here is rather than trying to build a relationship with an AD, think about it as trying to build a relationship with the Manager or Salesperson at the AD.
Local Watchmakers and Jeweler
This brings us to the last, and in my opinion, the most important relationship in a watch traders network – the local watchmaker/jeweler.
Before I start discussing why this relationship is so valuable, let me provide a little bit more context and definitions around “local jewelers” (I think the local watchmaker definition is pretty self-explanatory).
My definition of a local jeweler is an “independent” or “family-owned” jewelry store that generally doesn’t specialize in watches. Rather, as a jeweler, their areas of specialty are things like diamonds, gemstones, wedding/engagement rings, precious metals, custom jewelry design, jewelry repair, etc, and although they may also be an AD for some watch brands, they are usually not an AD for the top watch brands like Rolex, Patek, and AP. These local jewelers may even have multiple locations, usually, in the same town, but the owner is generally the one with the relationship with the REAL retail buyers – and their clients will ask for him/her by name.
As watch trader, it is VERY EASY to create a symbiotic relationship with local jewelers because we have the ability to add value to the relationships they have with REAL retails buyers. In other words, you can easily become their go-to “watch guy/gal” which can really help you take your watch trading to the next level.
Here are some benefits of cultivating a relationship with local jewelers and watchmakers
- They can provide quick repairs, polishes, etc without you having to send a watch off
- Since they have REAL retail clients, they are usually willing to pay more than the traditional dealer
- Oftentimes, they get offered watches for sale from their clients, and since they don’t specialize in watches, they do not know how to price them (or sell them) so they will look to you for advice.
- Since they do not keep up with market trends, they sometimes sell watches well below the current market price
- They may be willing to partner with you on certain watch deals that can provide large profits to both you and the watchmaker/jeweler
As you can see, there are a lot of tangible and profitable benefits to creating relationships with these connections, so the next logical question is how do you establish the relationship?
The best way I have found to cultivate these relationships is to provide some inventory to them on consignment. This is a true win-win for both you and the watchmaker since you are showing your trust in them, are investing in the relationship, and ultimately it will allow the jeweler to add more inventory to their showcase without any added cost. Just simply take pictures of your watch and list it on the sales platforms, then bring the watch to the jeweler and ask them if they would be open to a consignment agreement. This will allow you to open the lines of communication and will allow you to start discussing other ways to create other mutually beneficial opportunities.
As you can see, being a good watch trader requires you to have both breadth and depth of relationships with many individuals. I hope you realize how important it is to cultivate a relationship with your local watchmaker/jeweler and you put into action some of the things I recommend.