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Brand-Name Luxury at Bargain Prices?! Why Japan is the Best Place to Buy Quality Watches!

Brand-Name Luxury at Bargain Prices?! Why Japan is the Best Place to Buy Quality Watches!

Date published: 19 June 2018
Last updated: 16 July 2018

Whether we’re at a meeting or out on the town, when we want to make an impression, what’s on our wrist says as much about our personality and identity as the rest of our outfit. Although watches are appealing as practical accessories and even as gifts, luxury brands tend to be pricey and out of reach for many of us.

But here's an intriguing secret: the truth is, in Japan you can buy authentic wristwatches at irresistibly inexpensive prices compared to many other countries – without the fear of wondering if you’re getting a fake in the process. Here we’ll share why prices in Japan and in other countries are so different, plus a selection of our recommended stores in Japan where you can take home your own quality timepiece.

Shopping: One of the Main Reasons People Come to Japan

Shopping: One of the Main Reasons People Come to Japan

Japan is a major tourist destination, with millions of foreign tourists visiting Japan each year. In 2017, there were 28,690,000 visitors, and the number this year may well exceed that. Along with sightseeing, another major reason why people come is shopping! Japan is such a shopping mecca that there are many people who consider shopping, instead of sightseeing, as their number one reason for visiting.

As one would expect, items exclusive to Japan are popular with shoppers from abroad, but along with electronics and cameras, watches sold in Japan are bargains in terms of value. In fact, when foreign visitors to Japan were surveyed about their purchases in-country, their degree of satisfaction with the watches they'd purchased was quite high. When asked why they made such a purchase here, “because [watches] were reasonably priced/cheaper compared to my home country” ranked at the top (Source: 2017 Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan, Japan Tourism Agency). As you can see, there are many people who have bought watches at bargain prices in Japan!

The Secret: Specialty Stores Pass On The Savings to Customers

The Secret: Specialty Stores Pass On The Savings to Customers

Why are wristwatches often purchased in Japan? To say the least, the number one reason is “inexpensiveness.” Foreign brand-name wristwatches can be purchased in Japan at astonishingly low prices! There are several reasons for this. Firstly, regular prices in Japan are low to begin with, as wristwatch specialty stores in Japan have strong purchasing power. Such stores specialize in wristwatch sales; and because they buy up their stock through unique routes, the breadth of their inventory and prices are nowhere near the inventory and prices of mass retailers.

For example, the regular price of a “Seamaster Planet Ocean” by Omega in China is 980,900 yen (US$8,900), but in Japan, its standard price is 780,000 yen (US$7,080). And in a wristwatch specialty store listed in this post, the watch has a discount of 350,000 yen: the genuine timepiece can be bought for only 428,000 yen (US$3,800). Amazingly, the difference with the regular price in China is more than 550,000 yen (US$4,900)! Simply put, the regular price in Japan is cheaper by about 20% compared to the regular price in China; and on top of that, the price at a wristwatch specialty store in Japan is about 45% cheaper compared to the regular price in Japan. As a result, the prices at these specialty stores are about 56% cheaper than regular prices in China.

Now that is a bargain to check out!

*All prices listed in this post do not include taxes, and are the prices as of June 6, 2018. Prices may be different when you visit the store(s).

Professional Staff at Specialty Stores Will Help You Find the Perfect Purchase

Professional Staff at Specialty Stores Will Help You Find the Perfect Purchase

The great thing about visiting a watch specialty store isn't merely the price. Staff who are extremely well-versed in the timepiece trade will help you choose the one that best suits you, your budget and intent. There are also many stores with staff who can speak several languages, so you can shop confidently even if you aren't fluent in Japanese. This level of service is quite encouraging for visitors from abroad.

That said, since there are many wristwatch brands, it may be quite difficult to narrow down your choice if you just go inside a shop without prior research. Below we’ll share a selection of 3 luxury wristwatches plus different specifications and functions to keep in mind when shopping around.

Recommended Brand 1: “Seamaster Planet Ocean” by Omega

Recommended Brand 1: “Seamaster Planet Ocean” by Omega

Regular Price in China: US$9,000 (990,000 yen)
Regular Price in Japan: 780,000 yen (US$7,080 - about 20% off the regular price in China)
Over-the-Counter (Store) Price: 428,000 yen (US$4,900 - about 56% off the regular price in China)

Specifications:
Case: Stainless steel
Case diameter: 43.5 mm
Dial color: Black
Water resistance: 60 bar (600 meters / 2,000 feet)
Movement: Automatic

Omega is a Swiss watchmaker. It is a strong brand with sophisticated technology and a long history; and it produces many world-class, luxury wristwatches.

The Seamaster, which was created as a diver's watch, is one of their main collections.  Imbued with the latest technology, the Seamaster Planet Ocean is highly water-resistant while featuring a sleek modern design, and has been a popular choice among consumers since its launch in 2005.

Recommended Brand 2: “Flagship” by Longines

Recommended Brand 2: “Flagship” by Longines

Regular Price in China: US$1,700 (187,000 yen)
Regular Price in Japan: 141,000 yen (US$1,280 - about 24% off the regular price in China)
Over-the-Counter (Store) Price: 108,000 yen (US$980 - about 41% off the regular price in China)

Specifications:
Case: Stainless steel
Case diameter: 26.0 mm
Dial color: White
Water resistance: Water-resistant in daily use situations
Movement: Automatic

Longines is also a long-established Swiss watchmaker with a history dating back to 1832. It continues to solidify its status as a watch brand, having received numerous awards at watch trade fairs and having its pieces used at world-class sporting events such as the Olympics. As a centerpiece to mark the brand's 185th anniversary, the “Record Collection” was launched in 2017 at a ceremony held in Beijing, raising the collection's profile and popularity in China.

Among luxury wristwatches, the “Flagship” model exudes an antique flair. Its soft, round design is perfect for the ladies.

Recommended Brand 3: “TimeWalker” by Montblanc

Recommended Brand 3: “TimeWalker” by Montblanc

Regular Price in China: US$9,500 (1,045,000 yen)
Regular Price in Japan: 855,000 yen (US$7,700 - about 17% off the regular price in China)
Over-the-Counter (Store) Price: 368,000 yen (US$3,300 - about 64% off the regular price in China)

Specifications:
Case: Stainless steel
Case diameter: 43.0 mm
Dial color: Black
Water resistance: Water-resistant in daily use situations
Movement: Automatic

Montblanc is a world-renowned German brand. Originally known for its stationery, it is making its presence felt as a wristwatch maker, and fans of the brand in China and in other parts of the world are increasing. The heart of a timepiece and responsible for its drive, the “movement” part of a Montblanc watch is made in-house without relying on other companies. This “manufacture” form of production is characteristic of the brand. This chronograph features the “fly-back” function for timing wherein the elapsed seconds hand can be instantaneously stopped, reset, and restarted with one push of a button, indicating the brand's attention to detail.

The Timewalker collection's appeal lies in its watches' large dials and modern design. These simple yet sophisticated wristwatches are perfect for various occasions, whether for business or casual daily use.

Easily Accessible! Enjoy Shopping at Wristwatch Specialty Stores in the City

Easily Accessible! Enjoy Shopping at Wristwatch Specialty Stores in the City

As a fashion-forward city Tokyo sports many wristwatch specialty stores. Below we’ll introduce a selection of four located in areas that are popular with foreign visitors for their easy accessibility.

Shinjuku Area: GMT

Shinjuku Area: GMT
  • GMT
    時計専門店 GMT
    • Address 1F/2F Branshe Building, 1-12-5 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku Station
    • Phone Number 03-3342-3266

    Hours: 11:00am – 8:30pm
    Regular holidays: None
    Languages spoken: Japanese, English, Chinese
    Duty-free services: Available
    Credit cards accepted: JCB, VISA, MasterCard, J-Debit, Diners Club International, American Express, UC, DC, UnionPay, UFJ card

GMT

Ginza Area: GINZA NJ TIME

Ginza Area: GINZA NJ TIME
  • GINZA NJ TIME
    銀座NJタイム
    • Address 4-4-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Ginza Station
    • Phone Number 03-5524-3800

    Hours: 11:00am – 8:00pm
    Regular holidays: None
    Languages spoken: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean
    Duty-free services: Available
    Credit cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International, Discover, UnionPay
    Payment tools: Alipay

Shibuya Area: HOUSEKIHIROBA

Shibuya Area: HOUSEKIHIROBA
  • HOUSEKIHIROBA
    宝石広場
    • Address 3F/4F A2 Building, 28-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Shibuya Station
    • Phone Number 03-5458-5429

    Hours: 11:00am – 7:30pm
    Regular holidays: None
    Languages spoken: Japanese, English, Chinese
    Duty-free services: Available
    Credit cards accepted: VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International, UnionPay
    Payment tools: Alipay, WeChatPay

Ueno Area: TAKEYA

Ueno Area: TAKEYA
  • TAKEYA
    多慶屋
    • Address 4-33-2 Taito, Taito-ku, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station Ueno Station
    • Phone Number 03-3835-7777

    Hours: 10:00am – 8:00pm
    The first floors of main building A/building B, and the first floor of the interiors/miscellaneous goods building open at 9:30 am.
    Regular holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day)
    Languages spoken: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish
    Duty-free services: Available
    Credit cards accepted: VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International, MUFG CARD, NICOS, DC, DISCOVER, UnionPay
    Payment tools: Alipay, WeChatPay

A Brand-Name Wristwatch Bought in Japan is a Bargain!

A Brand-Name Wristwatch Bought in Japan is a Bargain!

We hope you now see why it's more economical to buy a brand-name wristwatch in Japan. Above all, being able to purchase a watch at a lower price is most appealing!

Please look for the perfect wristwatch for you at any of the four stores in this post. You're sure to find the one that best suits you.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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