My Interview with Watchfinder.net
with our eDealers - Richard Guerreiro
May/June 2002 Interview is with Richard Guerreiro (RG) of
PaladinLtd. As you read Richard's answers you will appreciate that he
provides valuable lessons about collecting watches in an intelligent
manner. I speak for all WISs when I say that we are lucky to have
Richard as a resource for our watch collecting.
WF.net: What are some of your personal favorite watches that you wear?
RG: Being a dealer and sometimes taking trades gives me the opportunity to wear some very nice watches. For example an A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Soiree - even with the Mother of Pearl dial it fits in with anything I wear. Elegant yet understated. Probably the best watch made today. Girard Perregaux Foudroyante in white gold with a black dial - Way Cool! Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph in stainless steel with a silver dial - my favorite sports watch. Girard~Perregaux Vintage Chronograph 18Kt. yellow gold on a bracelet - my everyday watch. I sure wish I could afford the new Patek 5002!
WF.net: Paladin has grown very quickly from being one of many new watch sites/dealerships in the late 1990s to being a leading site/dealer. What besides your hard work do you think has created your success?
RG: I have been blessed with a fine supporting cast of people who find the best product and at the lowest prices. It does take a lot of hard work and very long hours, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. I really enjoy everything about this business: my vendors are now good friends. Most of my clientele are the nicest people and also have become friends. The best part, for me, is knowing that I have done my job well and to the best of my ability. Therefore, everyone is happy in the end. I accept this definition of success and by that standard I guess I am successful. A lot of credit also goes to my wife Luisa. She is very undestanding and puts up with my long hours and the phone ringing 15 hours a day.
WF.net: One comment I hear a lot from Watchfinder.net visitors is that you actually talked them out of purchasing the watch that they were originally inquiring about. I also know that you receive a lot of repeat business. I think that your honesty and your being a direct person builds trust quickly with customers. There is a post on our Feedback Forum from someone who has purchased 15 watches from you in the past 12 months!:
RG: It's too easy just to take an order for a watch and ship it. I prefer to ask a few questions and find out a little about the person: what their wants and needs are. Finding someone the right watch for their needs is much more important than simply shipping something that they ordered, but will never truely enjoy.
An important consideration is the size and shape of the watch in relationship to the size of your wrist for example: a lot of people have never seen some of the watches that they wish to buy and it is always best to go over the entire watch with them so they can understand what to expect when it arrives.
Another thing I like to know is if someone is starting or adding to a collection. The two situations require different questions. Starting a collection takes a lot of thought. Two key issues/questions are: Which brands to start with? How much to spend? This scenario takes time and planning. Always best to do your homework first. Adding to a collection usually brings a more experienced buyer. Someone who knows watches and wants to add the new piece. If someone knows what they want, it's easy. I never try to talk someone out of buying a particular watch, I try to give them other options to explore. Maybe a watch they never considered up until we speak. Ultimately, the decision is the customer's, but it's always best to have choices.
I think that most customers and even just potential customers have come to realize that I am on their side, and I want to give them the best watch at the best price. In the end they all seem to come back. My first Internet client will be getting his 88th watch from me this week! He and I are now the best of friends.
WF.net: Please tell us more about your incredible selection of A. Lange & Sohne watches and how you can offer them at such great prices:
RG: I decided about a year ago that Lange was the best watch on the market (Yes better than Patek). I talked to my main supplier (now my partner) and told him to buy me as many Lange watches as we could afford. He thought I was crazy. I told him that I wanted to be the biggest A. Lange & Sohne dealer on the net and that I wanted to sell these watches at a lower price than anyone. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the best watch made. We discussed which models to buy and at what prices. The first 50 pieces sold within a month and the rest is history!
My biggest problem is meeting the demand for these fine watches as it seems that a lot more people than I thought really want a Lange. Most of my clientele have come back for a second or a third. This is really remarkable as the Lange line is still very limited. The best thing about A. Lange & Sohne is that you cannot go wrong with anything they make. From the entry level 1815 to the Datograph, their quality is very high and very consistent. I can't wait until we get in the new LangeMatik Perpetual.
WF.net: What convinced you that Langes are the best watch?
I always knew that Lange made a fine watch. It wasn't until I actually tried on a Lange 1 that I realized how superior a watch it really was. Their fit & finish is second to no one. The more I wore the Lange 1, the more I liked it. Then I loved it. I guess that is how it happened. Then I made the decision to concentrate on A. Lange & Sohne as a dealer also.
WF.net: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in collecting watches? And which watches do you believe offer the most value for the price?
1) Do a lot of research & looking around.
2) Ask a lot of questions from people who know more than you do.
3) Pick a price range & stick to it. If you cannot afford it now - WAIT!
4) Decide on how many watches you want in your collection.
5) Try to buy within the top ten of watchmaking.
6) Diversify: Don't buy all of one brand - This is sometimes hard to do, but either you want a collection of watches or a collection of one brand. Nothing wrong with having two watches by one manufacturer.
7) Trade up - Never down.
8) Always buy your watches right - You'll find out how you did at trade in time. Remember this: Sometimes the chase is in the hunt - Today's dream watch could be tomorrows trade in.
9) When in doubt - DON'T!
10) Know who you are buying from - Ask for references & check them.
In my experience the following brands represent good value and have good to very good resale value (meaning they retain their value):
* A. Lange & Sohne
* Patek Philippe
* Vacheron Constantin
* Glashutte Original
* Audemars Piguet
WF.net: You went to this year's Basel Fair... what watches/brands made the biggest impressions on you... positively and/or negatively?
* Patek Philippe - the 5002 blew me away!
* Glashutte Original - Great watches.
* RGM - He's one of us.
* Breguet - I have always loved this brand.
* Ulysse Nardin - The Freak & a freak it is
* Rolex - Anything new?
WF.net: Thank you very much for your time Richard. I have to say, every time we speak I learn something new... but this time you have outdone yourself. Thanks for your thoughts, observations and collecting wisdom.
RG: Thank you Rob