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TorontoSailor
January 2nd, 2011, 08:11 PM
Have decided to go on a 14-night southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation in January.

Was thinking of looking for a half-decent watch while on the trip. It stops in St. Maarten and also in Curacao, which I think are probably the two places to look. (No St. Thomas on this itinerary).

Does anyone have any experience shopping for watches in either of these two places? How are the prices? Can the jewelers be trusted?

I am not looking for anything super high end, like a Patek Phillipe or anything. Maybe just a Tag or Breitling or something like that. How much cheaper would they be than in the US or Canada.

Any tips or suggestions?

Thanks.

Booyakasha
January 2nd, 2011, 08:31 PM
Yes... buy the watch at home. Your price will be the same or less if you look around. Also many of the watch or jewelry stores in the Caribbean are not authorized dealers so if something goes wrong with your watch the warranty is invalid.

B.

mapsmith
January 2nd, 2011, 09:01 PM
Yep, Buy at home. I got a Breitling fake in St. Maartin a couple of years ago. Works fine. Appears to be Breitling Case, Face, and Band. Works are obviously Chinese or Korean. Watch is fine and cost $95 US. But ain't the real thing.

I usually buy a couple from the on board $10 Watch Sales to get me through the next year.

TorontoSailor
January 2nd, 2011, 09:08 PM
Hmmm. Certainly don't want a fake. Would only buy from a reputable authorized dealer. Surely there must be some of those, no? People have told me there are good deals down there, especially in St. Maarten. Are they wrong?

rigldbrg
January 2nd, 2011, 09:37 PM
My only attempt to do some serious watch shopping was in St. Maartin and I found the prices to be nothing special. I shop regularly online for intro level luxury watches (Oris, Tag, B&M) and I find much better prices from dealers that I would consider more reputable than those you'll find in a port stop.

mellow moog
January 2nd, 2011, 10:11 PM
Yep, Buy at home. I got a Breitling fake in St. Maartin a couple of years ago. Works fine. Appears to be Breitling Case, Face, and Band. Works are obviously Chinese or Korean. Watch is fine and cost $95 US. But ain't the real thing.

I usually buy a couple from the on board $10 Watch Sales to get me through the next year.
$95 dollars for a Breitling??? And you're shocked it's a fake??? Sorry to be sarcastic but you gotta be kidding if you think you can get a genuine breathing for $95 anywhere in the world!!!!

I just got a last season Tag Heur Aquaracer in Cozumel for $1600 instead of approx 26-2800 in the US but because it was from the pervious year.
The current year's watches were 2200-2400 Dollars instead of 2600-2800 in the US. Tag now explicitly tells them they can only reduce upto 15% off the MSRP (+ the difference in tax).

You need to go with an authorized dealer to be sure for the warranty.

ORV
January 2nd, 2011, 11:10 PM
The naysayers are out tonight. LOL, There are plenty of authorized dealers in the Caribbean, make sure you shop at one. If you are in Aruba go to Kay's Fine Jewelers(not the USA mall chain). I bought a Hamilton there, (great value for the money)and they have much higher end stuff also. I got a great price on mine but it was worked into a package deal with a diamond for my wife.

On major brands you generally won't save over much more than 10 -20 percent. What you will save is the sales tax. Assuming you buy a 3k watch and your local tax is 8% you would save $240. That'll buy a couple of drinks.

For every bad experience story you read about on jewelry in the Caribbean there's probably 100 positive ones you're not hearing about.

Can'tstopcruising
January 2nd, 2011, 11:21 PM
The best thing would be to do your research in your home city before you buy in the Caribbean. First learn the best price (tax incl) in Toronto. There may be places that discount the watch you want.

We have bought watches in Little Switzerland and Columbian Emeralds (Breitling) many years ago. No problem. The watches can be serviced at authorized dealers at home.

captain_oats
January 2nd, 2011, 11:28 PM
My family buys jewellery and watches (Phillip Stein) in the Caribbean all the time... I would only purchase things like this in a cruise ship recommend store. A friend of ours did not do this and bought what she was told was a designer watch, something broke on it , she took it in to a local jeweller at home to be fixed and she was told it was worth no more than those $10 watches you get at the mall. We have had things happen to things bought at a ship recommended store and they took care of it all! That would be my advice...know your prices too..unlike home, you can usually get the salesperson to go down on the price with some bartering. I agree with ORV, Kays is great! they have locations on a few islands..another great place is Diamonds International and they are everywhere down there!

househunter
January 2nd, 2011, 11:36 PM
My husband and I have both bought Movados in St Maarten for about 30% less than what we could have bought them for at home. We did our research first and knew the prices ahead of time.

sharkwl
January 2nd, 2011, 11:56 PM
Have decided to go on a 14-night southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation in January.

Was thinking of looking for a half-decent watch while on the trip. It stops in St. Maarten and also in Curacao, which I think are probably the two places to look. (No St. Thomas on this itinerary).

Does anyone have any experience shopping for watches in either of these two places? How are the prices? Can the jewelers be trusted?

I am not looking for anything super high end, like a Patek Phillipe or anything. Maybe just a Tag or Breitling or something like that. How much cheaper would they be than in the US or Canada.

Any tips or suggestions? Thanks.

Maybe just a Breitling? Are you kidding me? I tried on a $100,000.00 Limited Edition diamond encrusted Breitling watch when I was in St. Maarten a few years ago! It was just incredible! These are VERY exclusive, high end, chronograph automatic watches! Wow, you should really be reading some of the watch magazines to get an idea what models and prices are available! I purchased an automatic, hand made Swiss watch for about $3500 and I saw the exact same watch in a high end jewellery shop back in California for $6600. a month later! Wow, was I ever happy! So yes, watches can be a good deal cheaper if you do your homework and shop wisely! Automatic watches are not for everyone as you need to wind them every day or use a watch winder but they are timeless and elegant! There are sooooooo many shops to buy from in St. Maarten so take your time and purchase wisely! :)

TorontoSailor
January 3rd, 2011, 12:15 AM
LOL. Well, I certainly wasn't talking about one of those Breitlings :). Seriously out of my league. More like one of the 5K kind.

Thanks for some of the tips/advice everyone. Certainly an interesting topic. I will definitely price a bit before I go. I have a pretty good idea about many. Problem with watches is that there are so many models, it makes it very hard to compare. Kind of like buying matresses, huh?

But I have a pretty good idea of range on most makes.

Just curious about potential savings and reputable merchants.

Great advice. Thanks.

espmass
January 3rd, 2011, 07:10 AM
We have bought watches in both St Thomas and Barbados. Just make sure you go to a reputable dealer. The best price we got for a Tag was actually in the ship gift shop and we bought it.

ozark74
January 3rd, 2011, 10:27 AM
Compared prices online with St Thomas and the ship gift shop. The prices on the ship were just as good as on the islands. My DW bought me a Tag Aquaracer on the ship at the same price as St Thomas. On the ship they give you a 30 day price guarantee, they will match a cheaper price. I am guessing but think the watches on the ship my be fresher because they don't keep as many as the stores onshore.

lipping larry
January 3rd, 2011, 11:06 AM
find the watch you want here and check prices on line. take a print out with you i found prices were best in St Martin. Larry

spencerdrivecruiser
January 3rd, 2011, 11:28 AM
Curacao - Freeport

Aruba - Shivas

St Martin - Art of time

All the above have excellent reputations. I have used all three and they are Authorized Dealers for the brands they sell.

We're The Groupnors
January 3rd, 2011, 12:17 PM
I had an excellent experience buying a watch in the Caribbean. I, too, am from Toronto, so I looked around here for a watch I wanted, and had the jeweller write down the model and the price for me on one of their cards (in my case it was a Concorde at Birks). When I looked around the various ports I only went to authorized Concord dealers, and negotiated until I got the price I wanted, which was more than 50% off the Birk's price. Having the card with the Birk's cost on hand really helped as some of the store's beginning prices were actually higher. Also, be prepared to walk out if you're not getting the price you want; most Caribbean jewellers realize they are not the only game in town and will come down more.

Once you get home I would recommend getting the watch valued from a reputable appraiser like Gem Scan.

Good luck and have a great vacation!

Conrycol
January 3rd, 2011, 12:27 PM
Bought my breitling at a Little Switzerland on St. Thomas. Great price and watch.;)

gregg4
January 3rd, 2011, 12:39 PM
Just back from a East Carib. cruise and picked up a Breitling at St Thomas's Little Switzerland. Great price. Shopped at other islands but best price was at the Havensee Mall right at the port. Beats stateside pricing easily.

desperatewifeandmother
January 3rd, 2011, 12:41 PM
Another "Do your research reply" Excellent prices and reputable dealers in St Maarten, DH got a beautiful Tag( yes, genuine) for2/3 of price as in Canada. We are going again in February to do more shopping.

curiouscat
January 3rd, 2011, 12:44 PM
We bought my Tag last year at Little Switzerland in Curacao... only place that had the style I wanted...

If we do high end jewelry we only buy at Little Switzerland

Priced it back home and we saved $700 :p

CC

PS hubby has Brietling but couldn't find a ladies one I liked (in my price range)

hockeyboy
January 3rd, 2011, 05:31 PM
You can save 15% and sales tax on watches in the Caribbean. For me that's 21% which is a decent chunk of change on a 5k watch. Duh, over 1k if my quick math is right (it is).

For 5k check out the Breitling Super Ocean Heritage with sharkskin (metal) band. Awesome looking watch. Should be about $4400.00 I think.

The best thing to do is go to Breitling's website and see where the authorized dealers are.

I ended up buying a Michele watch for my wife at Jewels in St John. It ended up being $1400.00. It was about $250.00 cheaper than in the states plus no sales tax.

For me I got a Tag Heurer Aquaracer 'Caribbean' on Freedom of the Seas. It turned out to be $50.00 less on the ship than on Cozumel.

Booyakasha
January 3rd, 2011, 05:55 PM
Remember just because a jewelry store says it is an authorized dealer or has a sign that says so does not mean it is true. Many times part of being an authorized dealer means that the price the store charges is regulated by the manufacturer. I would check with the manufacturer before you buy the watch to see if they say the store is an authorized dealer.

For example Breitling has only 6 authorized dealers in St Maarten.
http://www.breitling.com/en/index.php#/retailers/central-america/

B.

GeneD
January 3rd, 2011, 08:42 PM
I've purchased a Rolex in St. Thomas and a Breitling in St. Maarten. Little Switzerland and Colombian Emeralds would be a good recommendation. I've even purchased Swatch automatics there when I couldn't get them in the US to add to my swatch collection. Now my recommendation is for a Rolex as it hasn't given me a bit of trouble in over twenty years and now is my every day watch. (It is the Explorer II white face) . The original Old Navitimer Breitling Chronometer on the other hand looks great, keeps good time, but I have had it repaired three times now and I baby it.
Something that most people don't realize is that when high end watches need to have maintence service (as they all do) it will cost the owner upwards of $400 just to open it up and clean and lubricate it. The recommended frequency for maintanence is evey two or three years. Repairs on the other hand by authorized repairmen will cost you even more!
I will always look at watches but it takes something special to get my attention.
Also you will need an electric winder box ($100-$200) that alternates direction every so often so when the automatic watch is off the wrist the winder doesn't let it run down.

TorontoSailor
January 3rd, 2011, 08:46 PM
Well, for people from Ontario, Canada, a 15% discount plus no tax would be the equivalent of 30%. And you are right: on a $5K watch, that is a serious chunk of change.

Thanks for the post to the Breitling authorized dealers. If Breitling authorizes them on its website, you can bet they are legit. I will also check out Tag and a couple of the other brands, put together a rough price and do some comparison shopping.

I think the people that are automatically writing off buying a watch down there may be missing out on some very good buys. But we'll see.

Definitely caveat emptor when it comes to this stuff.

sharkwl
January 4th, 2011, 04:14 PM
Yes, there are some amazing deals in the Caribbean! Happy purchases!! :)

BroncosFan2010
January 4th, 2011, 04:24 PM
St. Maarten has good shopping. I bought a decent Fossil watch on St. Thomas in August. I love the watch and got it for less than half what my local mall sells the same model for.

notl342
January 4th, 2011, 04:24 PM
I usually buy a couple of $10 watches on the ship and toss them when the battery craps out!

deise17311
January 4th, 2011, 04:30 PM
Be careful about coming back through customs...I was stopped wearing my OWN Rolex and was accused of buying it Grand Cayman..It was a Christmas gift so only a month old and they demanded a receipt to prove I bought in US...very insulting and wasted tons of time arguing...finally found pics of me wearing it on my phone before cruise and was "released"!

Never again!!

YOW
January 4th, 2011, 04:49 PM
Be careful about coming back through customs...I was stopped wearing my OWN Rolex and was accused of buying it Grand Cayman..It was a Christmas gift so only a month old and they demanded a receipt to prove I bought in US...very insulting and wasted tons of time arguing...finally found pics of me wearing it on my phone before cruise and was "released"!

Which brings up the subject of customs and duty. When doing the math, especially on a $5K watch let's say, wouldn't it be wise to figure for duty and taxes? In Canada, for example, on a $5000 watch purchased for $3500, duty + HST could be another $500 or more. Assuming one is being honest. ;)

CptSticky
January 4th, 2011, 05:00 PM
Last year, the DW bought an inexpensive, but still name brand watch in St Thomas. It stopped working in less than six months. As for the brands on board, they are not nearly as cheap as they try to tell you. Their best price after 40% discount on a Citizen Eco Drive is like $450. I bought the same watch at Kohl's department store here in the states during a Father's Day sale with a Kohl's 30% off coupon for like $260. Still, this summer, I bought the DW a watch while on board, sometimes you just need to buy her something;)

ORV
January 4th, 2011, 05:02 PM
Which brings up the subject of customs and duty. When doing the math, especially on a $5K watch let's say, wouldn't it be wise to figure for duty and taxes? In Canada, for example, on a $5000 watch purchased for $3500, duty + HST could be another $500 or more. Assuming one is being honest. ;)f

All I know is that I have repeatedly tried to tell customs what I have purchased and they just tell you to go on. I really don't think they're too crazy about paperwork.

iancal
January 4th, 2011, 07:39 PM
I think that there are savings on some of the high end products. But, it is essential that you compare model to model, finish to finish, strap to strap. Then, check on the warranty-worldwide or not-and ensure that the seller is an authorized seller (in case warranty is dependent on purchase from an authorized dealer). What I have found is that the price of the high end watches on board ship is not attractive...notwithstanding their claims. The prices are better on some of the islands. The high end watches that I priced onboard HAL could be purchased for less from an on line store at home.

I do not think that there is any saving on the low end. We have bought two Citizen ecos-one on Holland, one last week on Celebrity. Both were touted as 40 percent off list (I am not a believer in list prices, only in net price). The watch that we purchased on Holland...with all the 40 percent off and tax free fanware, was selling at a retail location if FLL for about $18. more that we paid on the ship. The watch that we bought on board Celebrity a two weeks ago was selling for $1. more at one of our stops-I think Aruba. I am certain that I could buy it retail at home for about the same price.

People really seem to get excited when they see signs claiming 40 off list or duty free. Many of these claims are just nonsense and retail hype aimed at the impulse buyer. If you are buying high end you need the know the market.

Arubamoose
January 4th, 2011, 09:48 PM
Do your homework ahead of time. Know what you might want to buy. Get prices. Go to a reputable dealer.

Years and years ago - I was shopping for a Rolex for my DH. St. Martin had the best prices in Little Switerland. DH decided he didn't want the watch and I didn't have enough $$$'s to buy the one I wanted. I got it quite a few years later in Little Switerland in Aruba. Paid $2600. In the States the same watch at the time was $3200. Forget about the price now!!! And I did declare it and with the four people in my family I was traveling with my duty was a pittance.

And I know it wasn't a fake - I sent it to Rolex recently to have it cleaned and serviced after many years of lots of use.

spencerdrivecruiser
January 4th, 2011, 09:48 PM
I also got stopped at customs due to a nice Rolex I was wearing and had to scramble to prove it was bought in the usa.

Now here is what I do.

I place the watches on my car with my CT tags and take pics in the camera with my watches and wifes jewelry on the car with the tags showing.

This proves I owned the Jewelry before I left for the cruise. It would be tough to find a CT car in St Martin for example and take pics,, plus they can check the tag number out to ensure its my car.

I keep these pics in my camera.

May save some time at the pier when customs starts asking questions.

Spence

YOW
January 4th, 2011, 10:23 PM
And I did declare it and with the four people in my family I was traveling with my duty was a pittance.

Ah, I forgot, US residents can combine their duty-free allowances as a family. Canadians cannot do this (wow, shocker eh -- Canadians taxed more again ;)).

Good idea, Spence.

chaka7969
January 5th, 2011, 12:10 AM
Less chance of getting ripped off. When you are talking high end I will only buy from a vendor approved by the cruise line. Maybe I'm paranoid. I have even considered buying onboard-it is definitely more expensive but you get piece-of-mind. Also do your homework, know what you are buying. I purchased a Breitling for $3000 (tax and duty free) at Diamonds International in Cozumel. The best I could do in the US at the time was $3800 (then add the tax). Besides being an approved vendor DI is very reputable. However since your are going to St. Maartin, that is the place to shop. Good luck.

goofysmom99
January 5th, 2011, 01:13 AM
DH (retired from the jewelry business) & I almost bought an Omega at Little Switzerland in St Maarten. Then had lots of regrets on the continuation of the cruise. When we got to St Thomas, we checked the Little Switzerland in downtown Charlotte Amalie and got it $2K cheaper! Dealt with the store managers at both locations. Doublechecked when we got home and price we paid was exactly the same as the cheapest he could have gotten through his contacts. Buying it in the Caribbean saved us a chunk of change on the tax. I've sent it to Omega for a cleaning, and it's definitely the real deal.

iancal
January 5th, 2011, 10:47 AM
I am not a big believer in ship approved stores. This is actually a revenue program operated by a third party company for the cruise lines. Essentially the stores pay a monthly fee for priviledge of being recommended plus a commission on the sale (why do you think that you fill out that little form to list your purchases and their price).

So, any dogs body of a store can be a recommended merchant provided they ante up with the dosh so to speak. And in the end, who really pays for this?? I think is a very deceptive practice. Never once have I read or heard someone from the cruise line letting cruisers know that the retailers 'pay' for this recommendation. They always seem to make it sound like a good deed.

lvcruiser
January 5th, 2011, 11:55 AM
I, too, am not a fan of ship recommended stores in port. I don't know if this is still true, but several years ago, Jamaica had a reputation for having the best watch deals in the Caribbean. But since this is not on the OP's itinerary, it probably has no bearing.

On a Western cruise in 2003, I decided that I wanted to buy a good Movado. Prior to the cruise, I shopped online for models and prices and made a list of about eight watches I wanted to view. Onboard the ship, the shopping director told me where I should buy my watch if I wanted the best deal on authorized merchandise. While on a private shore excursion, I asked the tour guide to take me to the shopping district in Ocho Rios and mentioned the names of the stores I had heard onboard the ship. He said they were not going to give me the best deals and suggested that I try another local jeweler with which he was familiar, dropping me off at that store. When I told the store manager that I had shopped online and wanted to see specific watch models, he showed all of them to me, giving me the selection that I wanted and immediately discounted every watch 50% from the suggested retail price. I purchased one and when I got back to the ship, was told by the shopping director that there was no way I could have purchased a genuine article for that price and I should have listened to him and bought from one of his recommended stores instead. When I got home, I took the watch to a local Movado dealer to ensure its authenticity and see how good of a deal I had received. The watch was the real thing and the price this store was asking was the retail price. So I saved 50% on the watch and another 7.5% on the sales tax. It has been sent back to Movado twice for battery changes and cleanings without a problem, but I had been told similar stories to what have appeared here about price fixing with authorized dealers and the manufacturers not honoring warranties. You simply have to do some research and know where you are shopping. There are deals to be had by authorized dealers - you just have to find them. And I will not shop at ship suggested stores for anything, having heard too many horror stories of the ship or cruise line not honoring its guarantee. If you shop away from home, you have to be prepared to not be able to return the item unless you have plans to visit the port of call again in the very near future.

michaelbyrns
January 5th, 2011, 02:42 PM
We'll see you on board. We are going on the same cruise as you.
Michael


Have decided to go on a 14-night southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation in January.

Was thinking of looking for a half-decent watch while on the trip. It stops in St. Maarten and also in Curacao, which I think are probably the two places to look. (No St. Thomas on this itinerary).

Does anyone have any experience shopping for watches in either of these two places? How are the prices? Can the jewelers be trusted?

I am not looking for anything super high end, like a Patek Phillipe or anything. Maybe just a Tag or Breitling or something like that. How much cheaper would they be than in the US or Canada.

Any tips or suggestions?

Thanks.

getagrip
January 5th, 2011, 04:17 PM
We saved about 20% over US stores from an authorised dealer, plus saved the tax. A suggestion though; when negotiating and you mention you are talking to another store about the same watch, dont tell them which store. I have a strong suspicion they phone each other and fix the bottom price.