Getting your dream Rolex from an authorized dealer has become quite the difficult task in the last few years. Rolex dealers rarely have stock and watches are being sold as fast as they are coming in. Discounts are nigh impossible when buying a new Rolex. I was on a trip internationally, and I heard rumors that discounts were possible. I purchased my first international Rolex on this trip, with such a discount, and until now I just didn’t know how this process worked. Today, I am sharing this journey with you in hopes that you may find it useful on your personal Rolex journey.
How I Got a Discount Buying at an International AD
- Get Lucky
- Have the Correct Documents
- Getting the Discount
- Customs Charges
Buying a Rolex in the United States is a game, one of the most difficult games you can play. They have favorites, people they will call before you ever have the opportunity to purchase one yourself. It turns out, there are ADs internationally that will only sell one watch to an individual each year. Even if you spend thousands of dollars with them, they will sell you one watch. When you are ready to purchase another, you must come back the next year.
Even knowing this, the chances of having a specific watch in stock is still very slim. On my journey, my friend and I just happened to pass a Rolex dealer, so we decided to stop in. Obviously the first question I had was if they had men’s watches in stock. No, they were sold out. It’s a story told all too often at the moment. Being in the market for a watch for my wife, I decided to give it a try, and sure enough, they had a pink Oyster Perpetual in 31mm. For €5800, I decided to take it, especially since the market value in the US was $7500 at this time.
This particular Rolex dealer told me they receive watches and if they are not sold within 24 hours, they will go on display. I didn’t get into too many details, but I would assume Daytona is out of the question. This particular dealer made it seem like getting a men’s watch just takes showing up at exactly the right time.
Having the Correct Documents
One of the things I have heard as an American, is that tax is refundable when buying in the EU. Turns out it is even easier than it sounds. I had no idea what the price difference would be, but I knew buying the watch here with no tax would be less than paying MSRP plus tax in the US. The best part of this is, the two requirements are exceptionally simple.
- Cash or Credit
Since the Rolex was purchased in the EU, non-EU citizens are eligible for tax free shopping on many different purchases. There are stores that will even help with paperwork, or with the taxes up front. One of the things you can look for as a tourist are bright blue signs that indicate a certain vendor is proficient with helping tourists.
Getting the Discount
The amount I save, the “discount” is different depending on which country you are shopping in. I happened to be in the Czech Republic visiting my family. Each business can handle VAT in different ways and since this particular AD liked me, they gave me the reduced VAT since I would be receiving the refund anyways. This meant my savings would be 15% instead of the normal 21%. This was one of those vendors that deal with foreign shoppers professionally.
After purchasing my wife’s new Rolex, I had to save the receipt as it shows how much I paid up front in taxes. While each country is different, most major international airports have stations where you can get VAT refunds on the spot. Immediately before check in, it’s simply a matter of arriving early to wait in line at the station. The line can be long so be prepared, but once you get there, you will receive your refund through customs. This is especially helpful since you can prove that you are leaving in the correct time frame. After a quick inspection in customs to make sure the watch is brand new and not opened or worn, I will receive my money.
This is the part of the journey that can make or break any deal you have. Any goods brought into the country will be subject to import charges when entering the United States. If I had just purchased the watch online from a foreign dealer, customs charges would be expensive, sometimes more than 20%. Fortunately I was already travelling so it made sense for me to make this deal. Import customs for a person is usually closer to 7%. Customs fees can vary from country to country, so make sure you know what you will be paying upon return home.
I was supposed to pay 3% per the custom officer, however, they said, they will give me a break today.
In the end, buying watches abroad can be a great opportunity to get it tax free. That doesn’t alway mean you will get a great deal after import fees. Just make sure you are aware of what it will cost when you return home. There are times it will make sense, but not always.
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