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Buy the seller, not the watch: A story of a fake watch sale

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It’s a watch lover’s nightmare: You’ve saved up large sums of money to buy your favorite stainless steel watch. You transfer the money. And then, 2.5 months of excuses later, a watch arrives. You take the watch to an Authorized Dealer, who tells you it’s not authentic. But the seller seemed reputable! He had a huge YouTube following! He ran Australia’s biggest sales board on Facebook!

This is exactly what happened in one transaction outlined on the RolexForums, a saga that seems to have shut down a prominent watch “blogger’s” online presence and cast the roles of buyers and reviewers into new light.

The story is all too common. A collector saved up $29,000 to buy a Daytona that was for sale by Chris Essery of Horology House, a YouTube channel, reviews site, and shop. Essery also was a moderator for AWF (Australian Watch Forum), a Facebook group.

A few days later, a user named Rob posted on the RolexForum:

My mate was sold a Daytona 116500LN for $29k AUD ($19.5k USD, yeah too good to be true I told him).

The seller has quite the online presence in Australia, so funds were transferred without question. I have a feeling there’s plenty of people out there that have been scammed by him without even knowing yet.

Watch was meant to be sent overnight, but it wasn’t till 2.5 months of excuses later, he finally sent the watch overnight express to my friend. 

Because of the time frame and endless excuses of why there was a delay, we started to suspect he was scamming us, turns out we were right.

I hope this post will help other in the future to not get suckered by this scum. It’s so sad, cause probably without my genuine Daytona to compare with, my mate would have not known he got scammed until his first service.

In other words, the seller was part of the new breed of watch blogger that actively mixes sales and “reviews” on the same platform. And in this case the reviewer passed off fake merchandise as real.

Always keep a paper trail

The user had multiple conversations with Essery and posted the logs are in this pastebin. Every time he confronted the seller the details come up not found. The seller said the shipping courier couldn’t locate the watch. It got worse.

Essery then speculated that the watch was stolen in transit. And then Essery said he didn’t have the funds on hand to refund the purchase until he sold another watch. He proposed to send another watch or return funds later.

It was a mess.

Note that there’s never any firm evidence of a police report or insurance cases in the logs, just mentions. Essery lied the entire time.

Patience wears thin, Essery sent a watch said to be from his personal collection, and a friend of the buyer received it while the buyer was traveling. The buyer’s friend owns a Daytona and is no slouch, immediately suspecting the watch he received for his friend is fake.

Essery wanted the watch back, and after some tense conversation, agreed to pay back a portion of the money first and pay the rest on receipt of the watch being returned to him.

And this works out: the buyer gets his money back. The watch goes into the crusher.

So why are we bothering to write about it?

Two reasons: First, even when someone unwinds a transaction if the seller misrepresented what was being sold, that’s wrong. The refund doesn’t erase what happened. Second, it appears to have happened to at least one other buyer.

Without going through the whole list of events, the second buyer also transferred funds, got a tracking number, and found the tracking number didn’t work. It took 4.5 months for the buyer to receive his funds back.

Our usual advice is, quite simply, buy the seller, not the watch. But when the seller is a person who posts videos showing the differences between fake and authentic watches, it’s easy to see how you might trust that seller blindly. It’s also why our site doesn’t sell watches: we don’t want to be responsible when a deal goes sour.

Further, one of the ways you might judge a person is how they react when the misrepresentation is suspected. Are they surprised, and grateful you’ve brought them your suspicions so that they can make sure it never happens again? Or, are they offended, and insistent that your suspicions are wrong? It seems that usually the people who are defensive are the ones that already knew their product was problematic.

Essery’s does admit the watch he sold was a fake. But he doesn’t say he’ll stop representing himself as a watch reviewer.

This doesn’t exactly mesh with the WhatsApp conversation logs, but is close. The logs indicate the return wasn’t nearly as smooth. It also raises this concern: if the fake Daytona that was sold came from Essery’s private collection, it becomes reasonable to question the whole collection.

It’s difficult. Private sales are a good way to save money and sometimes one of the only ways to purchase a watch that simply isn’t made any longer.

I thought idly about the need for there to be a forum that you could post pictures of a potential purchase, and have them safely reviewed. It would probably turn into a nightmare, but it’s something similar to how sneakerheads have a judge of authenticity at sneaker conventions.

But for a model that’s still offered, perhaps it’s better to purchase at an AD, or at least have a watch inspected by an AD to put the odds in your favor. And maybe watch bloggers should stop selling watches.

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