A lawsuit has been lodged in San Francisco against one of the oldest jewelry retailers by a man who claims he was coerced into spending $220,000 with the expectation of purchasing a rare Patek Philippe timepiece that he ultimately never received. Over the past few years, reputable Swiss watchmakers such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet have gained notoriety for their limited availability through authorized dealers, a situation that has been exacerbated by the increased demand-supply gap caused by the pandemic. The fear of missing out on these coveted and exclusive timepieces has led some buyers to become victims of fraud or exploitation, as they are taken advantage of due to their desperation to acquire rare and desirable watches. This particular case appears to be one such instance.
Interestingly, the same watch is being sold for more than twice its retail price on popular watch reselling websites. On Chrono24, the Patek Philippe 5980_1R-001 has an average price exceeding $220,000.
According to reports, a customer was searching for a rose gold Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5980/1R and decided to visit a Shreve & Co. boutique in the Bay Area. When inquiring about the highly sought-after Patek Philippe watch, Rezaei claims that he was informed he needed to establish a purchase history in order to secure a spot on the waiting list. Eager to acquire the 5980, he agreed and commenced his purchases by spending $70,000 on a Patek 5905R in September 2020. This was followed by acquiring two watches from the Swiss watchmaker's women's collection valued at $100,000. Finally, in March 2022, Rezaei spent an additional $50,000 on a diamond bracelet. At this point, he had already expended $220,000 over an 18-month period to obtain a timepiece that typically retails for approximately $108,000.
The story takes an unexpected twist here. Established in 1852, Shreve is renowned as one of the oldest family-owned jewelry retailers in the United States. In fact, it was the second American retailer to represent Patek Philippe. However, despite its history and long-standing association with the Swiss watchmaker, Shreve & Co. lost its status as an authorized dealer in April 2022. This unfortunate turn of events occurred immediately after the customer's $50,000 bracelet purchase, during which he was still anticipating the delivery of the promised 5980 watch that never arrived. The customer alleges that the boutique's sales associates continued to encourage him to make further purchases.
The story perfcetly illustrates the lengths people go to purchase a PP watch and the associated risks in doing so.