I make no secret of the fact that my interest in watches is one which doesn’t include the internal politics between figures and personalities. However, recent events involving Chris from Horology House present a story which should be treated as a cautionary tale. Following my normal path with articles, this piece is not intended as an indictment nor a call to attack the discussed party but rather to present the wider picture of how the watch industry is changing.
What Am I Talking About?
For those unfamiliar with Horology House, this YouTube channel, website and podcast was known for extremely well-shot videos about watches from the likes of Seiko, Rolex and Glashütte Original. Chris Essery, the man at the helm of Horology House, is also known as the creator of the Australian Watch Buy, Swap & Sell Facebook group.
On YouTube and Instragram, Horology House has consistently provided very well shot and presented content. This ranged from reviews of the new platinum Omega Speedmaster with the calibre 321 movement to, rather ironically, a guide to identifying fake and replica watches.
The Unfortunate Story
A couple of days ago, I was preparing some content for the Watch Chronicler Instragram page when I first stumbled across the alleged story. This led me to discover the story posted online which showed Mr Essery attempting to pass of a fake Rolex Daytona as a genuine and sell it to a buyer.
Sinister in its own right, this situation is worsened by the publishing of email and WhatsApp correspondences which show Mr Essery attempting to prevaricate with issues relating to postage, travel and customs. The zenith of the display was the use of the Australian bush fires with the claim that a family house had burnt down only for it to be revealed that the photo used was published in a news article. At this point, numerous claims are appearing (substantiated to varying degrees with photographic evidence) but it seems difficult to disprove what has been labelled as a scam.
Other accusations have been levelled at Mr Essery including the claim that watches have been held at customs in order to request further payments for their release. Whilst this is plausible and multiple individuals state that their watches remain in limbo for this reason, I am in no position to confirm nor deny this accusation.
Following a veritable explosion on social media, the Horology House YouTube channel has disappeared whilst the Horology House Instagram page has become private and all posts have been deleted. Prior to the delete, Mr Essery posted an apology on Instragram which has been included below:
“Some of you may or may not know that I recently came into issues with the sale of a replica watch. I feel stupid, sick, numb, upset, and frustrated that I’ve potentially passed this on to a buyer. After a few days, the buyer returned the watch to me and immediately received a full refund. Upon inspection, the watch is a replica. The fake watch transaction had a lot of my personal information in it, so if this was a legitimate scam it’s been terribly executed. As for any sales that were delayed in delivery, these simply failed with the supply. I tried to fix the situation, make constant excuses and work through, only to fail. At the end of the day, these resulted in refunds to the buyers. Overall, I have stuffed up, and I take full responsibility. I am sorry, and I apologise to those impacted or anyone that I have let down. I know a lot of you trust me, and you follow for that reason. I don’t expect anyone to forgive and forget. I’ll be taking some time away with my family to personally deal with this. Chris”
The Moral of the Story
I am not in a position to judge whether Mr Essery was aware of the sale of fake watches or whether this was a misunderstanding, but the moral of the story is undeniable.
The watch market, and especially the Rolex and Patek Philippe markets, has reached a stage of ‘Tulip Mania’. For those who haven’t before heard the term, ‘Tulip Mania’ refers to the period between 1636 and 1637 when tulip bulbs traded for immensely elevated prices entirely out of touch with the product itself. Ultimately, this ended with a market crash.
For watches, a similar aspect is manifesting itself in the prices commanded by the likes of the Rolex Daytona at the core of this story — prices often in excess of twice the RRP. Of course, this has been cultivated with limited supply but it is inevitable that prices will eventually fall or speculation will result in a market collapse. This seems inevitable as rising prices direct these watches to an increasingly specific audience far removed from the casual buyer.
For the consumer, however, this recent incident has presented a harsh reality. Where there is money, there will always be those trying to take advantage of others. Whilst it may seem a reasonable way to acquire a watch more quickly than in Rolex’s immense waiting lists at a significant cost, one cannot deny that buying a heavily faked watch from a 3rd party is inherently risky.
Leave your thoughts about this unfortunate events and how you see the ‘grey market’ down below.