Buy a watch from me Ja?

One of the advantages in working here at tourBULLion is never needing to worry about having a budget to travel around the world to cover events like SIHH (the ‘Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneve ‘) or Baselworld. Which is just as well, but when the opportunity to do a bit of horological sight-seeing while you’re on official work presents itself, any decent writer worth his power-reserve would surely not pass the chance up.

Especially when its Germany; land of big sausages, superb architecture, strong beer, big bearded men, fast cars, super-highways, big bearded men, expensive coffee, engineering wonders and big bearded men. And of course ja, the fantastik watches. In truth my travels did not bring me around to the rustic countryside or mountainous terrain or underwater caverns where centuries-old watchmaking firms or families love to plonk their factories and stroke their long, white beards all day long (big bearded men ja?). In the German cities though, the big chains dominate both sale and retail scenes.

Bucherer and Wempe are two large family-owned, centuries-old jewelery and luxury-watch retail companies that are not only well-established in Germany but in Europe as well. It sounds funny for me to reiterate such a point (especially to a German) since this is as obvious as drinking beer in October to a Munich dude. But you got to remember man, I come from a small little country where luxury watches are usually sold in dark back alleys by shady-looking men in trenchcoats with East European accents. I got to keep it real you know? But I digress. Wempe is the other major luxury-watch chain in Germany and has stores in practically every street of the shopping-district in Berlin and Frankfurt. You walk a few steps and another one pops up with the regularity of Starbucks or barefeet street-chiropractors.

The nicest thing about the Wempe stores were the very impressive window displays; they had as many watches on show as a curry bratwurst stall had dubious sausages. Once inside though it was a bit of an anti-climax; I found mostly jewellery and a few Pateks and Langes that the store thought better to conceal. It does get a bit inconvenient to keep running in and out of the store to point at a particular piece and gesture to the sales rep, “nien, nien, not dat varn, dis varn!” Like Bucherer, Wempe too has its own manufacture, which is not available where I hail from but had wanted to investigate for quite a while now. That will be the subject of a future post, but for your information, I did buy something. The whole experience was typical teutonic efficiency: the service was excellent, the explanation clear and concise, even if the attitude was not exactly the most caring and concerned I’ve ever experienced. I think I’ll pass on that though. Especially from a big bearded German.


2 Responses to “Buy a watch from me Ja?”

  1. Kurt Weiss Says:

    I live in Munich and your observation of Germany’s watch shops is accurate. But Wempe is a much larger chain than Bucherer especially internationally but I would say that Bucherer has a better selection.
    I think you live in Asia? How do you find the price in Germany compared to your country? I would like to visit Hong Kong or Thailand one day.

  2. Dirty Willy Says:

    Hi Kurt
    I think the base prices for several watch brands I saw in Germany are similar to in Singapore. However tourists can claim up to 19% in tax rebate over there which might be more than the discounts we get over here.
    I notice that several watches that are on long waiting lists here are readily available over in Germany, that means no premiums. E.G. Wempe had a Rolex GMT Master 2 ceramic bezel, which is a waiting list item over here, and will sell at a premium. Over in Germany there is no discount, but no premium either.

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